COLUMBUS -- DeVier Posey's first appearance in Ohio Stadium for 2011 will also be his final game there. The senior wide receiver from Cincinnati comes off 10 games worth of suspensions just in time for senior day and the Buckeyes' last home game of the 2011 season, against Penn State on Saturday.
And just in time to provide some punch and some balance to a consistently vanilla offense.
Posey, who had 124 receptions in his first three years at Ohio State, returns at a time when the Buckeyes rank last in the Big Ten in passing yards and are near the bottom of that category nationally.
"We all know. We've said it a million times: Balance has got to be the key," Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said about using the pass more often and more effectively when his team faces the Nittany Lions.
As for how Posey might fit into that plan, Fickell declined to specifically outline what role he has in mind for Posey.
"We've got to go out there and see how that whole thing works out," Fickell said this week. "He'll have an opportunity. We're confident in what DeVier can do."
Fickell's brief track record in dealing with players returning from suspension would indicate Posey will be a big part of the offensive approach.
When running back Dan "Boom" Herron and offensive tackle Mike Adams returned from their five-game suspensions related to their roles in the tattoo and memorabilia scandal and Herron's additional game off for being overpaid for work he did for a booster, they started immediately. Herron had a big impact on the rushing game when he returned from suspension, as did Adams.
"Hopefully, it gives him a spark, kind of like it did with Boom," Fickell said about Posey, who was slapped with the five extra games off the field when the NCAA decided he was the most egregious offender in the pay scam.
"Throughout this entire process, I promise you the guy's respected for the way he's handled himself, the way he's practiced, what he's shown, what he's learned from the situation, and hopefully that gives him a spark."
Ohio State receivers coach Stan Drayton said he expects Posey's return to be more than that. He is looking for an offensive explosion from Posey, and the Buckeyes could use it -- they rank ahead of only Minnesota in offensive production among Big Ten teams.
"He's going to be emotionally on fire," Drayton said about Posey, who has not played a game in Ohio Stadium in nearly a year. He had a touchdown catch in the win over Michigan here on Nov. 27 of 2010.
Fickell is hoping Posey's return to the offensive huddle also will elevate the entire receiving corps, a collection of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores.
"He's a senior. He'll be playing his last game at home, and those guys ... you look around, and you're in a huddle, and you've got a guy that's got some confidence and has been there and done it," Fickell said. "He brings some emotion, he brings some energy and some confidence. Hopefully, they can feed off of that. That's what we're looking for."
Drayton lauded Posey for remaining a "team guy" throughout the ordeal and providing leadership for the younger players at practice and in the meeting room.
"He's unbelievable in how he's handled this adversity he's been through," Drayton said. "This has been extremely hard on this young man. You close the door, and he bleeds on you."
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