Posey’s Emotional Return Could Spark Buckeyes on Senior Day
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Inside the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, DeVier Posey can breathe free air.
He is not an outcast, but a brother; not hated, but loved; not condemned, but accepted.
A year ago, that’s how Posey felt everywhere he went. He was one of the brightest stars on one of the most talented Ohio State teams in recent memory.
Everything was looking up.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes had won their seventh-straight Big Ten title and were headed for another BCS bowl game. Competing for a national championship the following year seemed like a foregone conclusion for a class that came to Columbus with very high aspirations, not to mention expectations.
Only that’s not how it unfolded. The story took a violent and unexpected turn into an off-road terrain that has left the program exposed and scarred. At the center of the controversy is Posey.
Along with his close friend Terrelle Pryor, the wide receiver out of Cincinnati committed multiple NCAA violations that ultimately led to the forced resignation of head coach Jim Tressel and the current state of affairs at Ohio State.
The damage that was done has been immeasurable, but Posey has also paid a severe price for his sins.
“He’s unbelievable in how he’s handled this adversity he’s been through,” OSU receivers coach Stan Drayton said.
“This has been extremely hard on this young man. You close the door and he bleeds on you.”
After missing the first five games of the season because of his suspension stemming from the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that rocked Ohio State last December, Posey was hit with an additional five games for his involvement with now disassociated booster Bobby DiGeronimo.
Posey was overpaid for the work he did at DiGeronimo’s Cleveland-area construction company, Independence Excavating, Inc. The total amount was less than $800, but the price he paid was steep. Not only has he missed the first 10 games of his senior season, but Posey has, in many ways, become the villain in Ohio State’s fall from the top.
“When he walks into the facility, he’s escaping from all that,” Drayton said.
“He knows that he’s around family. He’s around his brothers. He’s around coaches who believe in him and trust in him. We know him, so this is his comfort zone. You don’t really see that when he’s in this building, but I know he hurts when he’s not.”
Posey’s first game back will also be his last in Ohio Stadium. He hasn’t played in that stadium since catching five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in last year’s Michigan game, a 37-7 beatdown of the Wolverines.
“He’s going to be emotionally on fire. I think that’s something a young group is going to benefit from,” Drayton said.
“Not only that, the way DeVier prepares during the course of the week, the process before the actual game. He absolutely loves it. The amount of time he puts in on his own to watch film, the amount of time he puts in to study the scheme and study the game plan. Our young men are going to learn from that. He’s going to be the guy who pulls those guys in and says, ‘this is how you do it,’ so I’m excited about that.”
Ohio State has been lacking that leadership at the receiver position all year, at least on game days. With Posey suspended, the Buckeyes have been forced to play all sophomores and freshmen at the receiver position. They have often looked lost on game days, but Posey has done his best to bring them along during the week.
“He’s like our big brother,” sophomore wideout Corey Brown said.
“He’s basically bringing us in some mornings, some evenings, making us watch extra film. He asks us questions throughout the day, ‘what’s their favorite coverage.’ He’s out there on the practice field making sure we catch everything and do our jobs right. He’s an emotional leader, so it’s going to be good to get him back.”
Without him, the Buckeyes have struggled to throw the football this season. They are ranked 118th in passing offense and their leading receiver—Jake Stoneburner, a tight end—has only 12 catches all season.
Only two wideouts on the team—Brown and freshman Devin Smith—have more than 10 catches in the first 10 games, and they are both sitting at 11.
“It’s a process. They’re still learning. It’s what comes along with the territory when you have such a young, inexperienced group,” Drayton said.
“I think they’re doing a really good job with their approach every single week. No one’s hanging their heads and they’re not disappointed in themselves. That’s half the battle right there.”
The other half is actually getting open and making plays. If Posey’s suspension wasn’t bad enough, the Buckeyes lost starting wideout Verlon Reed to a season-ending knee injury in their conference opener and have had to play much of the season without fellow starter Corey Brown.
As a result, teams have loaded the box with eight or even nine defenders at times, daring freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to find something open down the field.
“I'm sure we can always block better, but there does come a point when they're bringing a safety down and there's just going to be one too many guys,” center Michael Brewster said.
“I'll have to look at the film, but it just felt like there was always an extra guy hanging around today.”
The Buckeyes are hoping Posey can have an instant effect on the way opposing defenses game plan for Ohio Sate.
“I’m looking forward to getting DeVier back because with him back they won’t be able to put so many people in the box,” said Brown, who reinjured his ankle before the Purdue game.
“It should make things easier for Boom (Herron), and DeVier can get his catches. Maybe they double-team him and I can get some catches, Chris (Fields) can get his catches. We should be clicking then.”
It’s not exactly like the Buckeyes are getting Dane Sanzenbacher back—they wish—but Posey is a guy who made 124 catches over his first three seasons at Ohio State. He had over 800 yards receiving in each of the past two seasons and has scored 16 touchdowns through the air.
“He’s the guy who grew up in this program around some first round draft choices. He’s had that experience passed down to him and he’s been playing and been in the fire a bunch,” Drayton said.
“Missing that type of game day experience along with the midstream adjustment that he has, he’s definitely missed.”
But how will he be received? Posey’s name has now become synonymous with the scandal at Ohio State and many fans believed he should have been kicked off the team after the latest round of violations were revealed by the NCAA back in Oct.
“What we’ve talked to him about and what I’ve talked to him about is not being concerned with those things,” said Drayton, who is in his first year at Ohio State.
“Those things ultimately, in my opinion, will not make or break him. If there’s anybody who has an interest in getting to know this young man, they’re going to know right away from the first conversation what kind of young man he is. Those things he can’t control outside of that, he doesn’t need to be concerned with that at all.”
Posey will have to concern himself with the crowd at least once Saturday. He will be introduced along with the rest of the seniors—including Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas—for Senior Day at Ohio Stadium.
“He’s gonna be hyped up,” Drayton said.
“I know DeVier, but I don’t know DeVier on game day yet. So that’s something I’m going to be watching very closely so he doesn’t do anything outside of what he needs to do.”
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