BEFORE HE'D EVEN had his first team meeting in January, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called wide receiver Devin Smith into his wood-paneled office. Meyer wanted to talk with Smith about expectations, how he hoped the receiver would be a dynamic playmaker like the star he once had at Florida, Percy Harvin. "That was one name he brought up a lot," Smith says.
In fact, he brought it up with every wideout. Meyer has been blunt in his assessment of his receiving corps: He doesn't know if that versatile threat exists in Columbus. Meyer's spread offense has traveled with him from Florida and should bring vigor to a sickly Buckeyes attack that finished 11th
That's why Harvin, even more than Tim Tebow, was Meyer's favorite Gator during their 2008 BCS title season. And that's why he's staging an open audition this spring, to solve what he calls his Percy Problem.
Smith and receiver Corey Brown are candidates to play the Harvin role, but running back Jordan Hall is "the closest right now," Meyer says. Though just the fourth-leading rusher on the team last year, with 4.1 yards per carry, Hall showed reliable hands and open-field ability in leading the Buckeyes with 683 kickoff return yards. He's also looked good catching passes in spring ball.
Still, Meyer may not settle on a guy for some time. "If we don't have one, I want to go get one," Meyer says. "Because once you get that guy, the things you can do on offense are endless. I want the country to know we're looking for that guy."
Three Buckeyes have already gotten the message.