DeVier Posey has gone through a transformation in 2017. The Toronto Argonauts’ receiver has improved his game and improved his outlook and he believes he owes much of his upturn in fortune and his improved outlook to his head coach, Marc Trestman.
“I’ll be repeating things that Coach Trestman has told me to my children,” said an appreciative Posey, standing on the sidelines at a windy TD Place, moments after the Argos had finished practicing for this weekend’s 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw.
The coach has gotten to the second year Argo, for the better. “He’s meant a lot to me,” Posey said.
In his rookie campaign of 2016, Posey showed flashes of brilliance as he battled for playing time behind a trio of stud receivers that the Argos had in their employ; Vidal Hazelton, Kevin Elliott and Tori Gurley. Yes, he had only thirteen catches and 161 yards in four games played but his talent was easily discernible even within that small sample size.
In 2017, with the three receivers ahead of him now gone, it was expected that Posey would step up and into a more prominent role with the Argos, which he has done but not without some growing pains and some guidance from Trestman, coupled with Posey’s own willingness to change.
A little more selflessness was in order.
“In my career, I’ve been searching for consistency,” Posey said quietly, happy to get to the story of how the CFL’s Coach of the Year helped him find it.
The 27-year-old Ohio State grad believes he can pinpoint the moment when things started to change for him, when things started to become a little more clear. It’s the moment when Trestman broke through, shortly after a game against the Calgary Stampeders, the same team the Argos will face this Sunday.
Posey had taken a bad penalty against the Stamps during that game, back on August 26th, his first game in the line-up after being sidelined for weeks due to injury.
“We were playing against Calgary and I got a fifteen yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct,” said Posey. “To him (Trestman), it meant a lot more than just fifteen yards.”
“We were driving and I put our team in a bad position.”
The two, Posey said, texted back and forth about the incident and while Posey was keeping the contents of the communication private, he made it clear that Trestman came at him with a clear but also positive message, and that the way the coach had treated his players all season helped ensure that Posey would hear it. And accept it.
“Coach Trestman has coached with love this whole year,” said Posey, hinting at why the coach’s texts after that game against Calgary were so welcome. “Coach Trestman is a guy who believes in the universe. He believes in Karma, God, whatever you wanna call it.”
The coach’s beliefs and his way of communicating resonated with Posey, who had a choice to make. Embrace some change, or continue on the same familiar path.
“I remember that being a turning point in the season, attitude-wise for me as far as just shuttin’ up and playing and coming to work everyday and just showing that I’m not gonna demand anything,” Posey said. “I’m just gonna show you my effort. That kind of turned a switch on with me.”
Posey’s season has tracked in a positive fashion since the trading of texts with the coach. Finishing the year with 52 catches and 744 yards in twelve games, he made seven trips to the end zone, including a spectacular, crucial, diving touchdown catch against Hamilton on September 30th.
As we talked about that touchdown, one that helped garner Posey a Shaw Top Perfomer nod, teammate S.J. Green came over.
“I watched him run that ball down,” said Green, getting more and more excited as he described the catch. “Ricky throws the ball up kinda high so D-Po can run up under it.”
“I just saw a burst from D-Po I hadn’t seen all season. I was like ‘man, I don’t know if he gonna make it!’ That’s my favourite moment for him this whole season.”
When Trestman took to the stage along with Calgary Head Coach Dave Dickenson at the Grey Cup Head Coaches Conference earlier this week he was asked about the Argos’ receiving corps and specifically about Posey. He talked in glowing terms, obviously happy that Posey had heeded the message.
“I really love where Posey’s at right now,” Trestman said. “He’s gone through, I think, a personal transformation of how he approaches the game. He’s become a selfless player.”
“I think he’s grown up a lot as a person, and that’s what I’m most proud of, of him. And he’s been able to make plays when we’ve needed to make plays throughout the second – or the last third of the season, and that’s exciting as well. So the entire development as a person and as a player has been impressive and a joy to watch.”
When told of Trestman’s remarks, Posey nodded his head slowly, appreciatively. What exactly did the coach mean?
“He believes that If you do good, and you work hard, that it’ll come back to you,” said Posey. “I think that’s what he’s kinda referring to.”
“I just want to make sure that people know me by hard work. People know me by being a good person. People know me by positivity and just loving life. That’s what I’ve been trying to do this year.”
Last week, in the Eastern Final, Posey caught a touchdown pass in the late moments of the second quarter and added a splendid, clutch, sideline catch during the Argos’ late touchdown drive to victory against Saskatchewan. He could talk about either of those moments, or the one in Hamilton as personal highlights but instead chose to talk about three catches he didn’t even make when asked what stands out.
“S.J. Green in Saskatchewan, (Anthony) Coombs, in Winnipeg, when he had that tipped ball and had that run after catch, and then third and sixteen against Winnipeg, ol’ Jimmy Ralph from south Alberta goes big for 25 yards and gets us in the red zone for the win,” said Posey.
His own heroics took a back seat and that might be just the kind of thing that Trestman was talking about and the kind of thing that Posey has been striving for since the switch got flipped, in Calgary, last August.
His diving grab in Hamilton might be Green’s favourite Posey catch, but if you ask the man himself, he might opt for another.
He could tell you that, instead, his best reception was the one he made of a text message sent by his head coach.
“We’re all better for being around Coach Trestman,” Posey said.