Posey saw growth in young wideouts.

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Last updated: 04/30/2011 1:56 PM

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Posey Saw Growth in Young Wideouts

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — DeVier Posey should be preparing for the biggest football season of his life. Instead Ohio State’s star senior spent his spring trying to prepare others.

DeVier Posey
Photo by Jim Davidson
DeVier Posey

With a five-game suspension looming at the start of the 2011 season, Posey realized the only way he could help the Buckeyes get off to a fast start was to make sure the guys stepping in for him were ready to go.

“My whole thing as a leader coming into this room is getting those guys to understand that they need to practice hard every single day,” said Posey, who caught 53 passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns last season. 

“I want them to see how passionate I play, how the game is supposed to be played and how fast the game is supposed to be played, so that they can learn from that.”

It isn’t going to happen overnight. With Posey suspended and Dane Sanzenbacher headed to the NFL, Ohio State’s top returning receiver is tight end Jake Stoneburner, who had 21 catches for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season.

Stoneburner could be Ohio State’s No. 1 option while Posey is out, and for a while, it looked like he might be their only option.

“I think after about three practices we were thinking, 'Oh my gosh, we might be in three tights, a fullback and a tailback,” OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel said.

The only returning wideout with any practical game experience is sophomore Corey Brown, who worked his way onto the field as a freshman last season. “Philly,” as the Philadelphia native is known, had eight grabs for 105 yards and a touchdown last season, but he also had a few big drops.

That was something that become contagious among the young wideouts early in spring practice.

“They had some rough days. They had some days they didn't want to play football anymore,” Posey said.

“And they had some days where they looked like All-Americans. I felt like that was key to get those guys on a straight line and keep them consistent.”

Along with Philly Brown, the Buckeyes are hoping to get production out of youngsters like Chris Fields, T.Y. Williams and Verlon Reed, who Tressel called his “darkhorse” of the spring. A converted high school quarterback, Reed had some natural struggles in adjusting to a new position at the college level.

“He brings a nice physical presence on the outside at the X position and same with Tyrone Williams,” Posey said of the two redshirt freshmen.

“They’re pretty big, they’re not little kids. They bring exactly what you’ve seen from wide receivers here in the past.”

Williams in particular had struggled with dropped balls this spring. At 6-5, he would be a huge target for whoever is at the quarterback spot for the first five games, but not if he can’t hang on to the ball.

That was the big concern with all of the young wideouts heading into last Saturday’s spring game, but it would prove to be short-lived. After a rough start by the offense, Reed finally got them in the end zone on a 17-yard touchdown catch from Kenny Guiton.

Before the day was done, Williams and Philly Brown would also add touchdown catches as the offense won a convincing victory over the defense.

“I felt like a proud dad watching them score touchdowns and make plays,” said Posey, who still isn’t sure if he will be watching the first five games from the sideline or his couch.

“To me, that shows growth. At the beginning of the spring, I didn't know if they would make those plays. Now I can look forward to the next four months.”

Williams in particular had a big day, catching three passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t any ordinary touchdown either. The lanky wideout got free down the right sideline and outran cornerback Vincent Petrella and safety Ron Tanner for a 68-yard touchdown.

“That's definitely a confidence booster and they're happy,” Posey said.

“I am really excited for those guys. I know how it felt to be a young guy, and you just want to prove how you can play and how you're supposed to be here.”

They will get plenty of chance to prove it while Posey is out.

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