Feb. 5, 2013
By David Boyce
Northwest Missouri State wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joel Osborn was a picture of contentment Saturday afternoon at Bearcat Arena.
Osborn chatted with friends and watched the men’s basketball team pull out a hard-fought 52-51 victory over Emporia State.
The Bearcats gave maximum effort for head coach Ben McCollum and assistant coaches Austin Meyer and Andy Peterson.
“Our guys are playing hard,” Osborn said during the first half. “They are a well-coached team. It is fun watching them play.”
Nearly a decade ago, Osborn was playing point guard for the Bearcats while redshirting for football.
“Coach Mac was a graduate assistant coach,” Osborn said. “Austin was a junior and AP and I were in the same class. We were freshmen.
“It is awesome to see them do well. They are such good friends. They do such a good job together. They know each other well. You can tell they know what each other is thinking. They do a great job recruiting and once they get the players here, they do a great job coaching them.”
Osborn fits that same mold in football. He eventually gave up basketball to concentrate on football and it paid off with four straight trips to the NCAA Division II championship game.
As the Bearcats quarterback, Osborn played a key role in helping Northwest reach a couple of those championship games.
Once his playing days were over, Osborn, a native of Harlan, Iowa, stayed in Maryville and became a graduate assistant football coach.
When Osborn first arrived at Northwest, he never figured Maryville would become such an integral part of his life.
“Coming back to Maryville from your hometown feels like you are coming home. It doesn’t feel like you are going to college. This is definitely home,” he said.
Over the years, Osborn has matured from a thoughtful, intelligent teenager to a thoughtful, intelligent man, who is about two months away from becoming a father for the first time with his wife, Audrey. They are going to have a son.
“It is exciting,” Osborn said. “I’m looking forward to it. I get to see all the other coaches with their kids after practice and that is something I am excited for.
“I’m still the same now. I’m sure I will have to start thinking about decisions in a couple of months and think what will I do if I had my son with me?”
Before the ultimate big day, Osborn will experience another fairly big day on Wednesday. It is national signing day. All across the country, high school seniors will be signing a piece of paper that will commit them to a college.
Osborn, now in his second season as the recruiting coordinator at Northwest, obviously wants the Bearcats to bring in another solid group of student-athletes to keep the strong football tradition going for many years to come.
“He has helped our football program grow in two years as a full time coach,” Northwest head football coach Adam Dorrel said. “He has taken this recruiting coordinator job, which a lot of guys don’t like the job or the title, and has embraced it and run with it. He has improved the way we recruit. He has made us more efficient and more dynamic.
“Because of Joel, our student-athletes get a lot more time with their professors than we have ever done in the past. He has done plenty of things to make us a better football program. It’s a very time-consuming job, a very tedious job. I’m very proud of him for the work he has done in a short amount of time.”
Of the 29 to 32 football players Northwest expects to sign Wednesday, seven were recruited by Osborn. His recruiting areas are central Iowa, Kansas City and Kansas.
Osborn remembers when he was recruited by former head coach Mel Tjeerdsma.
“Coach Tjeerdsma told me you will have a chance to compete for a national championship,” Osborn said. “My four years I was eligible, we finished second place every time. He did not lie.”
Now, Osborn is selling Northwest football to high school seniors in the Midwest. He enjoys the process.
“It is pretty exciting,” he said. “You sell the program. You sell the student-athlete at Northwest. This school does such a good job of developing the student-athlete. You sell the winning and to be a part of a family atmosphere. It is an easy sell for me because I went through the program. I know what it is all about.”
Through the ups and downs on the football field to the adversity that struck after his playing days, Osborn has always known he has the support from the players and coaches at Northwest.
“Watching him as a graduate assistant, the thing I will always remember from that time period is watching him battle cancer,” Dorrel said. “He didn’t want it to affect our football team. I always had a lot of respect for him, but it went up after watching him do what he did at a young age. He is very mature for his age.
“He is a kid I have always had a special relationship with. He is the guy who always worked really hard at a young age. He had a lot of confidence. He was one of those guys from a coaching standpoint, you always love having kids like that in your program.
“There were a lot of things that made him a great player at a young age, a great leader and a guy you knew was going to be very successful.
“He has a great personality. He is very easy to talk to. He is very loyal. There are a lot of things I can say about Joel Osborn.”
Indeed. This is a very happy time for Osborn and his wife. All the people at Northwest and in Maryville who have had an opportunity to watch him over the years know he has earned all the good things that are coming his way.
“It has been neat listening to him talk at work,” Dorrel said. “The time I have been around him and listening to his wife, Audrey. They are very excited. Joel is talking about baby showers. You can tell he is really starting to embrace being a dad.”
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