Not receiving his scholarship until last February, Kevin Ozier spent his first three years at ASU as a walk-on wide receiver. The junior believes that this experience has aided him in his growth and has turned him into a more dynamic player.
“It’s been a tough road, [and] things don’t always go your way,” Ozier admitted. “As a walk-on you have to work harder and outshine everyone else. That’s why I tell the walk-on players we have now that everything they do is magnified.
“If you do something good coaches notice you, but if you do something bad they look down on you. So as a walk-on you have to work ten times harder to get noticed. I really believe that attitude has helped me succeed this year.”
With a completely new coaching staff taking over this year, Ozier saw this season as a chance to gain a fresh start.
“I felt that when the new coaching staff came in it was another opportunity for me,” Ozier explained. “They didn’t know anyone personally, [so] they just went on what they saw on the field.
“That’s why I made sure to work extremely hard in Spring and Fall camp. I just focused on doing my job. If they tell me to do something I try as hard as I can to do my job.”
In five games this year Ozier has already collected 13 receptions for 188 yards and scored three touchdowns. None of his games this season were bigger than the role he played Saturday in Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium.
Leading the team with two touchdown receptions, Ozier set the tone for the offense early by making tough catches in traffic. The junior was then able to seal the victory for the Sun Devils with his second touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter.
“(Offensive Coordinator) Coach Norvell said we just had to focus on doing our job, I did my job and was in the windows I was supposed to be in,” Ozier recalled. “On the first touchdown catch, I knew it would be a tight window. I knew I was going to get hit, so I just focused on catching the football. On the second touchdown I got open at my correct depth and Taylor (Kelly) found me for the touchdown.”
Ozier credits his signal caller for leading the team by example and helping them stay calm during critical times in the game.
“Kelly did a great job of leading us down the field,” Ozier commented. “He is very composed. He has confidence in us as well as confidence in himself. He knows what he is doing. He is great leader on and off the field.”
Ozier believes that the extra work that the wide receivers did with the quarterbacks is starting to pay dividends for the team on the field.
“In the offseason all of the wide receivers would catch passes from the quarterbacks,” Ozier remarked. “Kelly and I would stay after and would work on completing passes to build that trust. I really think that has helped build better chemistry between all of us and helped us gain a better understanding of the offense.”
Ozier loves the new offense that has been implemented this season and the level of involvement that every position has in this scheme.
“I feel the new offensive scheme gets everyone involved,” Ozier said. “It gets the wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends involved on every play. The offense provides opportunities for everyone so we can keep the defense guessing.”
Now with a week and half to prepare for a road game at Colorado, Ozier knows that it is crucial for the team not to look ahead to the much anticipated Oregon contest a week later and to focus on game planning for the Buffaloes.
“We will be ready for Colorado,” Ozier stated, “[and] we believe that Colorado can beat us just like any other team. Some people will call them the underdog, but any team can beat us on any given day so we need to put in the necessary preparation.
“We have to look at them like they are a top team in college football and play them with a lot of intensity and discipline.”