For older Ohio State players, spring drills are for fine-tuning. But for younger players, such as receiver Noah Brown, it can be the time to bloom.

For older Ohio State players, spring drills are for fine-tuning. But for younger players, such as receiver Noah Brown, it can be the time to bloom.

That certainly seems to be the case for Brown, who saw limited action last season as a freshman. A four-star prospect out of Sparta, N.J., when he signed with the Buckeyes in the winter of 2014, Brown had to wait his turn in a receiving corps that now must replace two key performers in Devin Smith and Evan Spencer.

It appears that Brown, who last year, at 6 feet 2, 240 pounds, looked more like a tight end than a wide receiver, not only is learning the part this spring, but he's also looking the part.

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"Noah Brown has probably had as good a spring as I could have wanted," receivers coach Zach Smith said this week. "He has dropped 25 pounds. He's on a different level than he was in the fall, so I'm really, really pleased with where he's at."

Again, with Devin Smith and Spencer gone and last year's other starter, Michael Thomas, recovering from sports hernia surgery performed last week, and with backup hybrid back Dontre Wilson on the mend from foot surgery, spring practice has become an opportunity for others to step to the fore.

"Young guys like Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, they're still working," Zach Smith said, referring to two players who redshirted as freshmen last season. "Every day, they're going out and blowing out. They're grinding to get better, and they're not there yet."

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But Brown's name has popped up several times in conversations with coach Urban Meyer and Smith the past couple of weeks. Meyer said Brown has moved into serious consideration for making the list of 10 players who should be given the chance to touch the ball with some regularity in the fall because of their playmaking ability.

"He's a competitor, he's a tough guy - you saw that last year when (he was) a true freshman blocking, and he goes hard," Meyer said. "We just had to say, 'OK, now he's a little bit too slow.' But now he has lost 24, 25 pounds, and he's doing a very good job."

The trick now is finding a spot on the field on a regular basis. That's why Smith said he challenged Brown at the start of spring drills to become proficient at split end, flanker and the hybrid back should a need arise at any of the three positions.

"He has that flexibility, so that when we need to get the best three on the field, whoever that is, I can plug them where we need to and they'll be really good at it," Smith said.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports