Kevin Ozier celebrates his touchdown against Colorado (Photo: ASU)
Few things excite fans more than the next big thing.
The promise of that elite "can't miss" prospect who is coming to save the program. Visualizing all the exciting, jaw-dropping plays that the ultra-talented player will make. Figuring out which BCS bowl game he will lead the team to.
No words of that kind were ever spoken about junior wide receiver Kevin Ozier. And that may suit the 2012 Sun Devils just fine, thank you very much.
For the last three years, while big name players have come, gone (and largely disappointed), Ozier has worked relentlessly in the shadows and the margins of the program. As a walk-on at a BCS conference school, there really are no other ways of going about it. The temptation to give up is ever-present, but if the desire, will and just enough talent are there, great things can happen.
Such is the case with Ozier, although to the casual observer, that may come as a surprise. Even now, on the fringe of a great opportunity, he is best remembered as the the player involved in the locker room fight with Vontaze Burfict last August.
With career totals of 11 receptions and 169 yards, what else is there to know? Plenty.
Two years on the scout team and a Hard Hat award for excellent weight room work finally resulted in Ozier seeing action in 2011. Although the team featured a deep and experienced wide receiver corps, Ozier appeared in all 13 games. His defining moment came in the first quarter against Colorado, when he scored his first career touchdown on a 33-yard reception.
After the season, that logjam ahead of him on the depth chart opened up with the departure of four senior. Instead of feeling comfortable that a larger role is in his future, Ozier has stepped up his already potent work ethic and refined his craft. This quickly caught the attention of head coach Todd Graham, who awarded the former walk-on with a scholarship in February.
"In the two months that I've been here, Kevin exemplifies what we're talking about with character and class, not only on the field but also in the community. We evaluated the tape and saw that he contributed last year, but we think he'll be even a bigger contributor this year," Graham told The Arizona Republic.
Befitting a former walk-on with a blue-collar approach, Ozier is never going to "wow" observers or stand out in a crowd with his athletic ability. There are teammates with better speed, bigger size and greater explosiveness, but Ozier fits the "greater than the sum of his parts" mold perfectly.
That's not to discount his nice size at 6'2", 200 pounds or his good speed and route running. In fact, no wide receiver on the roster may have more of a complete skillset than Ozier.
So far this spring, Ozier has put those tools to work to meet his new coach's expectations.
Almost every practice, he has been a model of consistency, making catch after catch, running good routes and being a contributor at a position that is a primary area of need. Such work has put him in a position to see considerable time this fall, and perhaps even lock down a starting spot.
If he continues on his career-long upward trend, that should be able to excite fans considerably.
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What do you expect from Ozier in 2012?
All-Conference honors (4 votes)
Solid starter (40 votes)
Valuable role player (10 votes)
Bench guy (0 votes)
54 total votes