The journey in Maroon and Gold has been a long one for Kevin Ozier. The redshirt senior wide receiver did not receive any scholarship offers out of high school, and in 2009, he left his home in San Diego to walk-on in Tempe.
Ozier did not see any action in 2010 after redshirting the previous season. After being buried on the depth chart in 2011, he broke out 2012, catching 21 passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns while making 10 starts.
Ozier has always been a hard worker. He earned the Hard Hat player recognition award in 2010 for his work in ASU's offseason conditioning program. In 2012, Ozier's hard work payed off, as he earned a scholarship within two months of Todd Graham being hired.
With Rashad Ross and Jamal Miles gone, Ozier returns as the Sun Devils' leading wide receiver on the field and a veteran voice off of it.
"I'm the senior receiver, I feel like it's my job to have the receivers coming together to watch film so we can produce on the field," Ozier said.
The Sun Devil wide receivers were criticized heavily in 2012. Only one wide receiver tallied over 600 receiving yards. The leading Sun Devil pass catcher in 2012 was tight end Chris Coyle, who finished with 696 receiving yards, and running back Marion Grice led the Sun Devils with eight receiving touchdowns.
The Sun Devils bring back an inexperienced group of wide receivers in 2013. Behind Ozier, Gary Chambers, Alonzo and Richard Smith combined for just 256 receiving yards in 2012. Not yet in the fold are Jaelen Strong and Joseph Morris, two highly recruiting JUCO wide receivers who will join the team this summer along with three other newcomers.
Ozier says he expects the wide receivers to surprise Sun Devil supporters in 2013.
"People thought we lost receivers and we weren't going to be productive," Ozier said. "I thought spring ball went better than a lot of people expected. If you watched the film, the receivers were productive and we made some nice plays."
One thing that is sure to aid Ozier and his companions is the year of experience ASU signal caller Taylor Kelly now has under his belt. The quarterback looked sharp in the ASU spring game, completing 15-of-21 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
"I love him throwing me the ball," Ozier said of Kelly. "I feel like we have good chemistry, we get out here in the offseason and work and I think that it's showing."
Whoever is catching passes, Ozier, like many other Sun Devils, echo the fact that the end goal for this season is Pasadena. To get there, ASU wide receivers need to do a lot more than just catch passes.
"We have to go 100-percent, no plays off," said Ozier. "We have to downfield block, we have to catch balls, we have to come together as a team."