COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A full 10 games into the season and DeVier
Posey will finally be permitted to make an appearance for Ohio
Can he save the day?
Twice suspended by the NCAA and Ohio State for taking improper
benefits, first cash and tattoos for signed memorabilia and then
being overpaid for a summer job, now Posey has a lot on his
shoulders as he returns for the Buckeyes' game on Saturday against
No. 21 Penn State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten).
Some are counting on him adding an emotional boost for the
Buckeyes (6-4, 3-3). Others expect his presence to open things up
for Ohio State's one-trick pony of an offense.
Maybe Posey might just allow the Buckeyes to have a passing game
for a change.
"I think it's going to help the offense as a whole," said
running back Dan "Boom" Herron, who was suspended along with
Posey for five games for their roles in the tattoo scandal at Ohio
State. "He's definitely going to bring great leadership and he has
great experience. I'm sure he's going to get open because DeVier's
a great receiver. He can help us out by getting some first downs,
catching some balls down the field and it also helps kind of open
the run game up a little bit."
A year ago, Posey was second on the team behind current Chicago
Bears receiver Dane Sanzenbacher with 53 catches for 848 yards and
seven touchdowns. That's a chunk of offense to lose. With a
freshman quarterback now starting (Braxton Miller), the lack of a
go-to receiver has all but eliminated Ohio State going to the air.
Over the last five games, the Buckeyes are averaging just more
than five completions a game. That is clearly not enough to keep
defenses honest by preventing them from loading up against the run.
"It's a challenge," center Mike Brewster said of having to
fight off extra defenders on running plays. "It's just something
that we've kind of gotten used to now. They know what we're going
to do and we just have to continue to try and grind it out and get
the job done anyway. Getting DeVier back definitely adds a threat
out there, so hopefully that'll help us."
Many of his teammates admire how he's handled his two
suspensions, each one five games in length.
"I was kind of amazed at how positive he stayed," said
defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, yet another player who also sat
out the first five games due to Tattoo-gate. "Being in his shoes,
I don't know if I would have held together like he did. We're
basically just always asking for advice. It's kind of weird. I'm
playing, my suspension's up and he's still suspended and I'm asking
him for advice and how to deal with things."
Posey returns just in time for senior day. Interim coach Luke
Fickell isn't sure how a crowd of 105,000 at Ohio Stadium will
respond to Posey when he's introduced before the game.
Will there be applause for those formerly suspended for staying
in school and continuing to practice without a game as a reward? Or
boos for making decisions that put themselves ahead of NCAA rules
and the team?
"I can't control that," Fickell said. "They've made a
mistake. They've served their penance. They've shown what they can
do in the way that they've handled themselves. (The fans) haven't
been there every day to see how they've been in that locker room,
what they've meant to those other guys, whether they were freshmen
or seniors along with them.
"So. hopefully they will understand that and give them their
The bottom line is that Posey's teammates appear to be thrilled
he's back. How much impact he has on the offense is almost
secondary to his presence on the field or on the sideline.
"DeVier's a good dude," Thomas said. "It's going to pay off
for him being humble and handling it the way he did. He's just
going to make the best of his two games. He doesn't point fingers
and he doesn't blame anybody. You can ask any of the younger guys -
he's still an outright leader on our team. He still leads.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)