Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Leaving a legacy: Philly Brown
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The final chapter hasn't been written yet for Ohio State's senior class, and a handful of Buckeyes have a chance to author something pretty memorable. This week, we'll be looking at five players with a chance to leave a legacy with the program with one more productive season, what kind of impact they might have this fall and how they might be viewed down the road.
The Buckeyes want to see more yards out of leading receiver Philly Brown in his senior season.
So far: The veteran wideout already has led Ohio State in receiving twice in his career, though it only took 14 catches to do it as a sophomore. Even his breakout campaign a year ago came with some occasional criticism from the coaching staff, since his yardage didn't explode at quite the same rate as his reception total on the way to 60 grabs. But by the end of his junior year, Brown was showing the kind of speed and elusiveness that Urban Meyer values so highly on the perimeter, and that once again should provide no shortage of opportunities for the Buckeyes to put the ball in the senior's hands. Despite those modest numbers from the 2011 season, Brown is already on the brink of the top 20 in program history for receptions. He likely will be climbing the all-time yardage list steadily this fall, given his prominent role in the spread offense -- if he stays healthy -- putting him in prime position to stake his claim among the most productive targets in school history.
Numbers to date: 82 catches for 979 yards and 5 touchdowns; 13 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown; 24 punt returns for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns
Record chasing: Brown would need only to maintain the pace he established during his much-improved junior campaign to crack the top five in Ohio State history in receptions, with a projected 70 catches spread over a potential 14 games. He actually only needs to snag 58 passes to pass Santonio Holmes at No. 5 on the career list, and from there it's pretty elite company with the likes of David Boston, Chris Carter, Michael Jenkins and Gary Williams.
What's next: There is more help on the way for a thin group of receivers that was at least partially responsible for the heavy workload for Brown last fall, and the Buckeyes still have some experienced options on hand for quarterback Braxton Miller in Devin Smith, Chris Fields and Evan Spencer. Along with sophomore Michael Thomas and a talented group of newcomers, a bit of the weight should be coming off Brown's shoulders this fall. But he also deserves credit for his reliability and progress as a threat to extend plays after the catch, which was also a significant factor in how much he was used during the unbeaten season a year ago. Brown has good chemistry with Miller, he's a sold route-runner -- and is certainly still at the top of the priority list heading into his final year with the program.
Crystal ball: The feat wasn't exactly accomplished the same way the first two times, but finishing his career by leading the Buckeyes in receiving for a third year in a row would definitely give Brown a somewhat unique entry in the record books. It's no secret the Buckeyes want him to pile up more yardage as a senior, and if he can bring some of the game-breaking speed and moves he showed on his two punt-return touchdowns last year, they should get what they're looking for this fall. And in the process, Brown might find himself posting one of the most prolific statistical careers the Buckeyes have ever had at wide receiver.