Receiver makes belated appearance for Buckeyes
A full 10 games into the season and DeVier Posey will finally be permitted to make an appearance for Ohio State.
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 due.''
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.
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap.