Ted Ginn Jr. works out at spring practice. The freshman ignited the Buckeyes with big plays last season.
JAY LAPRETE / AP Enlarge
COLUMBUS - Troy Smith replaced Justin Zwick as Ohio State's starting quarterback in the seventh game last season.
That was right around the same time freshman speedster Ted Ginn Jr. first started grabbing national headlines as a game-breaking receiver.
Ginn finished second on the team with 25 catches for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Twenty of those receptions came in the final five games, including a season-high six in the Alamo Bowl, where he was named offensive MVP.
Ginn, a third-team All-American who began his OSU career at cornerback last fall, also rushed for two touchdowns and returned four punts for scores while averaging a school-record 25.6 yards per return.
Smith believes Ginn - his former teammate at Cleveland Glenville High School - is the most dangerous weapon in college football.
Ginn, playing mostly on offense this spring, and split end Santonio Holmes (55 catches, seven touchdowns) comprise one of the most explosive receiving tandems in the country.
"He's got nothing but positive energy," Smith said. "He's a player that wants to get better, day in and day out
"Wisdom and time are going to do nothing but make him better. I think he's going to be a great, great player before he's finished at Ohio State."
NEW ROLE: Ashton Youboty began last season as the backup to Dustin Fox at right cornerback. Fox broke his arm in the second game and was replaced by Youboty.
When Fox finally returned to the lineup, Youboty flip-flopped to the left cornerback spot.
He finished with 61 tackles and four interceptions. This season, Youboty will replace Fox as the player in charge of making the coverage calls in the secondary.
"I'm used to having Fox and [Chris] Gamble do that," Youboty said. "Now I'm the other guy. It's fun. I like having that responsibility."
NOT HAPPY: First-year defensive backs coach Paul Haynes hasn't been pleased with the secondary's poor tackling techniques.
"They're missing too many tackles for me right now," Haynes said. "One thing we have to get better at is tackling. Being the last line of defense, we've got to be great, not just good, tacklers."
In addition to cornerback Ashton Youboty, two-year starter Nate Salley returns at free safety. Donte Whitner and Tyler Everett, part-time starters at safety, also are back.
Haynes already has abandoned a plan to convert Whitner into the starter at right cornerback. Everett will get an audition at that spot after he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery.
COMING UP: The Buckeyes will wrap up drills on April 23 with the annual spring game at 1:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. Tickets are $5.