Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TUESDAY ROUNDUP: FICKELL HOPES FANS PAY POSEY, SENIORS RESPECT

DeVier Posey
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — DeVier Posey hasn't played a down for the Ohio State football team since the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas last January in New Orleans.

Posey's 10-game suspension by the NCAA — for receiving improper benefits — has been well publicized, and his return this Saturday against Penn State will certainly be no different.

Some are anticipating Posey's return for the fact that the receiving unit at Ohio State this season has been anemic, hauling in 46 receptions for 745 yards and five touchdowns as a group through 10 games. Last season, Posey recorded 53 catches for 848 yards and seven touchdowns ... himself.

However, there are some who feel Posey should've been kicked off the team for committing repeated NCAA violations. After being hit with a five-game suspension last December for selling his 2008 Big Ten Championship ring, as well as receiving other discounted services, Posey was suspended another five games in October for receiving more money from a job this past summer than he actually worked.

It's been no secret that many will not be welcoming him back with open arms and celebratory cheers when he takes the field Saturday for his final game at Ohio Stadium.

Fortunately for Posey, those people will not be residing in the Buckeyes' locker room.

"He's been the guy that throughout this entire process, I promise you the guy's respected for the way he's handled himself," OSU head coach Luke Fickell said of Posey during his weekly media luncheon in Columbus on Tuesday. "The way he's practiced, what he's shown he's learned from the situation, and hopefully that gives him a spark.

"Obviously, he's a senior. He'll be playing his last game at home, and those guys, just like Boom (Herron), you look around and you're in the huddle and you've got a guy that's got some confidence and has been there and done it. Hopefully they can feed off of that. That's what we're looking for."

Although there will be 24 seniors honored prior to Saturday's final home game of the season, most of the attention will be on the crowd's response to those players who were suspended for much of it — Posey, Daniel Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas.

Will the fans show their displeasure with the aforementioned players, placing blame on them for a promising season going to waste and for costing the job of former head coach Jim Tressel? Or will they be celebrated for their wonderful careers and forgiven, being that it's the final time they will ever play in Columbus donning the scarlet and gray?

Fickell hopes it's the latter.

"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," Fickell said. "The fans and everybody probably doesn't know that as well. They haven't been there every day to see how they've been in that locker room. What they've meant to those guys, whether they were freshmen or seniors along with them.

"So hopefully they will understand that and give them their due."

NOT LOOKING GOOD FOR SWEAT AND HANKINS ... One senior who isn't going to be playing in his final game at Ohio Stadium is senior linebacker Andrew Sweat.

Sweat, the teams leading tackler (68), left Saturday's game at Purdue with a concussion. Fickell said Tuesday that the only thing that concerns him about Sweat isn't his playing status, but rather is his physical well-being.

"He got hit. Don't know if he's going to be available for who knows how long," Fickell said. "The biggest concern is that we make sure he gets okay regardless of the football aspect of things."

Sweat will be replaced by true freshman Ryan Shazier at the weakside position.

Sophomore defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins also appears to be out with a knee injury that he suffered in the loss at Purdue.

"Right now it doesn't look probably real good," Fickell said of Hankins. "We'll see as the week moves along."

The 6-foot-3, 335-pound Hankins is third on the team in tackles (54) and second in tackles for loss (9) and sacks (3) this season.