OKLAHOMA CITY — Ronnie Osborne had it all.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound running back’s speed, power and finesse made him a highly sought after recruit from tiny Piedmont, America. He’s still the most high profile recruit in the school history.
“He’s a Marcus Dupree type,” former Piedmont head coach Steve Lykes told the Daily Oklahoman in 2001, recalling the University of Oklahoma tailback that once pulverized Big Eight defenders in the early 1980s. “In his (Osborne’s) running style and in his size, he really reminds me of him.”
At the peak of Osborne’s recruitment, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Florida, Kansas and Notre Dame, among others, all offered scholarships to Osborne. He still has a box full of mail sent by schools from coast to coast. The nation’s top college coaches flocked to Piedmont with good reason.
In 1999 as a sophomore, Osborne rushed for 2,143 yards and 26 touchdowns. The next year, he rushed for 2,082 yards and 31 touchdowns. In the two seasons combined, he averaged 201 rushing yards per game.
During his junior season, Osborne helped lead Piedmont to a 10-2 record and the quarterfinal round of the playoffs — its best season in school history — while also averaging 23 points per game on the basketball court on his way to All-State honors.
He seemed destined for stardom, but it never happened.
Osborne liked Alabama best and hoped to sign with the Tide. But when the school went on NCAA probation, they rescinded his scholarship offer. Oklahoma State, his second favorite school, did the same shortly after. His recruitment quickly became an enigma, with one school after another withdrawing their offers, though Osborne was fully qualified academically and rushed for more than 1,200 yards as a senior.
On Signing Day in February 2001, Osborne signed with NEO.
“I don’t really know what happened,” he said.
After a semester at NEO, Osborne finished his career at Southwestern Oklahoma State, where he graduated college. Osborne never turned into the football star many thought that he would, but that’s long behind him now.
For the past eight seasons, Osborne has taught ninth grade geography and coached defensive backs at Putnam City West High School. He also coaches track and basketball. Osborne tries to keep a relatively low profile about his playing days, but his players know about them. They’ve even found his old recruiting profiles on the internet.
“For some reason they love google,” Osborne joked. “They really love printing those off and putting them on my classroom door.”
Osborne fires back, though, and genuinely enjoys being back on the football field again.
“If they get beat, I joke with them that that wouldn’t have happened to me back in the day,” he said.
Osborne shepherds Patriot stars that go through the recruiting process each year, which this year includes star receiver Nick Robinson, who recently committed to the University of Memphis.
“We talk about recruiting a lot. I tell him to enjoy it,” he said.
Osborne’s parents, Ronnie Sr. and Dawn, still live inside the Piedmont school district and he said keeps up with the Wildcat program. He also keeps in touch with former teammates like Joe Daves and Grant Potter.
Even if he wanted to forget his playing days, it’d be hard. “I can hardly go to WalMart without seeing someone that wants to reminisce,” he said, my wife always asks if I really know all these people.”
“The friendships are what I value most from my high school days,” he said. “I truly think I had the best high school experience anyone could’ve had.”
Osborne and his wife Charmine recently gave birth to their first child, a girl named Olive, who is four months old. Osborne has few, if any, regrets about the path his football career took.
“What would’ve happened if things were different? I think about that sometimes,” he said. “If I’d gone to Alabama I probably wouldn’t have met my wife or had my daughter. God always has a plan and I’m just trying to play my role.”
osu junior day, got called into les miles office. wearing a blue and gold sweater. gave me a hard time about. thought that was oretty funnt
I still see coach Bakewell.
think we’re scrimmaging. it’ll be weird seeing those Wildcat helmets.