Smith turning heads as Buckeyes continue practice


The hype train surrounding Ohio State true freshman receiver Jeremiah Smith isn’t likely to subside anytime soon.

After arriving in January as an early enrollee and one of the most sought-after recruits in recent history, the addition of Smith to an already-loaded receiver room has been a primary talking point in an Ohio State offseason that hasn’t lacked sufficient source material. The removal of the black stripe on Smith’s helmet on Thursday, a right of passage for all Buckeye newcomers and an indication of when players are beginning to make their presence known in practice, suggests Smith is already beginning to make a name for himself inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

At 6-foot-3, 215 lbs., Smith looks the part physically as a player who may be ready to see the field on day one when Ohio State kicks off the season against Akron on Aug. 31.

Like most freshmen, though, the question of how quickly Smith can mentally acclimate to playing at the highest level of college football will ultimately determine whether or not his playing time materializes. Speaking with reporters after practice on Thursday, receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Hartline was complimentary of Smith’s approach as a player beyond his years.

“I love the way he lives,” Hartline said of Smith. “I love the way he approaches things. I love the questions he asks. I love the way he makes mistakes and then corrects mistakes. He’s very veteran-like. There’s so much ball he has to learn. He does things that are good and I’m like, ‘You know why that works?’ And he goes, ‘Coach, I have no freaking idea.’ So we’re trying to teach him all of that, why it works so that then the consistency with which it works just goes through the roof. But I’m very excited for and proud of the conversations we’re currently having, and I’m excited for them to keep going.”

Sophomore receiver Brandon Inniss, who befriended Smith at an early age as the two grew up in south Florida, is no stranger to arriving in Columbus with considerable fanfare. Before Inniss had ever played a snap in high school, he was already on the recruiting radar and went on to earn five-star status before committing to Ohio State’s 2023 class in June 2022.

Inniss, speaking like a proud mentor, called Smith’s growth “insane” through the years since the two were playing flag football together.

“The way his body has changed is crazy,” Inniss said. “And now seeing him out here today, it’s just like everything is coming full circle. He was the best player in the country last year, and for me, seeing him grow up and things like that, it’s been really good.”

Like his position coach, Smith has already made an early impression on Inniss through just four practices this spring. So much so, in fact, that Inniss didn’t shy away from declaring Smith an immediate difference-maker for a team with the highest of expectations this season.

“I feel like Jeremiah, he’s definitely a different caliber,” Inniss said. “When you watch him and how smooth he is and the physical abilities he brings to the game, I feel like he has to play (this year). Some way, he has to play because he’ll just better the team.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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