Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota didn’t just impress scouts and general managers at the NFL Combine last week; they also impressed the wide receivers they threw to.
That includes Ohio State prospect Devin Smith.
“I was very, very impressed with Jameis Winston,” Smith said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He put the ball right on the money. There was times when I was just sitting back and just watching him. Man, he can throw that ball.”
“Marcus Mariota, he’s an athlete,” Smith said. “I enjoyed watching him play. He can also toss the ball very, very well.”
Smith, of course, played with four different quarterbacks – Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones – in his last two seasons at Ohio State, so he’ll be the first to tell you that a quarterback’s personality can affect a team. Winston’s outgoing nature will likely help him in the NFL, provided that he performs at a high level on the field – and stays out of trouble off of it.
“I got a chance to talk to him for a few (minutes) when we were (at the combine),” Smith said. “He’s a silly kid, but when it comes down to getting the job done, he does it. You can’t really take that from him. He knows how to win. That’s pretty much all he did at Florida State all the way up until they played Oregon. But he’s a very smart kid. He knows what to do, knows where to put the ball. I think any team that picks him up is going to have a good pick.”
Of course, the same could be said for Smith, who is projected to go in the second round. In his final three games as a Buckeye, Smith had seven catches for 269 yards – 38.4 yards per catch – and four touchdowns. For his career, Ohio State went 22-0 when he caught at least one touchdown pass.
The 6-1 Ohio native believes he performed well at the combine, and he also had some fun in the process.
“I enjoyed it,” Smith said. “It was long days, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. Just one of those experiences that you only get to experience one time in your lifetime. So I enjoyed it. I met a lot of guys that I’ve watched play or played against, so I made some friendships.
“I felt I caught the ball very well,” Smith continued. “I caught every single pass. I think I ran all the routes pretty good, and I really just (had) a good workout out there.”
Looking at last season, Smith was nervous when Miller went down before Week 1, and he was nervous again when Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan. Still, he didn’t lose hope.
“It was tough for all of us,” Smith said of Miller’s shoulder injury, “but the good coach that Coach Meyer is and the good coach that Coach Herman is, we knew that they was going to put us in the right position to keep continuing to have success. I was worried at first because you know how young J.T. was, so you didn’t know what was going to happen.”
What happened was a 14-1 season and a national championship – thanks in large part to Jones, who went 3-0 against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.
Barrett, who is close friends with Miller, believes he will return to Ohio State for his senior season. That said, he thinks Jones will be the starter Week 1 at Virginia Tech.
Regardless of who’s under center, it’ll be interesting to see if the Buckeyes can recapture their magic from this past season.
“It was unbelievable,” Smith said of the Buckeyes’ run. “Just from playing in those last three games of the season and being an underdog and coming out on top, I thought, was the best part. After we beat Alabama and we got into the national championship, we just told each other, ‘This is it, man. This is one more shot that we get at greatness.’ I think everyone buckled down and was like, ‘Let’s get to business.’ We went out there and did everything we could to execute the best we can.”
The Buckeyes committed four turnovers against Oregon – almost all of them unforced. Nevertheless, they beat the Ducks, 42-20, as the Ohio State defense allowed just one touchdown in the final 57 minutes of play.
“We all stuck together,” Smith said. “Whenever the offense screwed up or got a turnover, the defense never complained. It just went right back on the field and did everything they could to get a stop and get us the ball back.”