THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2011
Four-year wonder: Osking will get masters
Ian Osking has started every game in four years at JU.
Ian Osking has started every game in four years at JU.
Dumb linemen.

Certainly if you have followed football for any length of time you’ve heard that expression and it turns out that as the game has evolved it’s an old school term that doesn’t have much relevance now.

Senior Ian Osking is big, about 6-4, 300 pounds, a lineman and anything but dumb. In fact, he is one of the few players anywhere who will complete his four-year study with a masters, yes, masters, degree in business administration.

“If you look at a lot of the guys we have now, there are a lot of smart kids on the offensive line,’’ Osking, from Fort Pierce, Fla., said. “It’s not just for dumb guys anymore. It may have been true at one time, like back in the 80s.’’

The evolution of the lineman, according to Osking, has to do with the evolution of the spread offense. The complexity of line calls has increased, new techniques introduced and new blocking schemes have evolved.

JU offensive line coach Andy McLeod agrees.

“With the offensive line, especially in our system, the checks and the identifications they have to make in a short amount of time in an angry circumstance, if they make a mistake from a mental standpoint they’re causing not only physical harm to themselves but also their teammates,’’ he said. “They have split second decisions that have to be correct. They don’t have the advantage of time or space.’’

The academic evolution of Osking started early and continued at Westwood High School. His mom, Kathy, taught courses in middle school and his dad, Dan, is a probation officer for the U.S. Southern District Courts. It doesn’t take much to connect those dots.

“I didn’t have perfect attendance (in high school), but I rarely missed,’’ Osking said. He had a 3.0 unweighted and 4.2 weighted grade point average.

While at Westwood he was in dual enrollment and accrued about 30 credit hours so when he enrolled at JU, he basically was a sophomore academically. Hence, early graduation and now the work on the masters which is a one-year program that ends next summer.

“He had a plan from the day he got here that he was going to leave here in four years with a masters,’’ McLeod said.

“It doesn’t come super easy but it’s not extremely challenging,’’ Osking said.

Statistics, particularly undergrad stats the fall semester of his sophomore year, when he was going through a life-changing time, has been most challenging, generally, Osking said, “all the classes are about the same level of difficulty.’’ He enjoys his management classes most.

On top of the academic achievements, Osking, a former center who now plays guard, has started every game since stepping foot on JU turf. Oh, and he started every game at Westwood.

“Coming from high school the offense was similar (at JU),’’ he said. “We didn’t have as many complexities but the foot work was there and I already knew the technique so I just had to worry about learning the plays and they came fairly easy to me.’’

And despite his accomplishments, Osking says he doesn’t look at himself as anything special.

“I look at myself as just a guy going through life,’’ he said. “People always say ‘you’ve done this, you’ve done that’ but I don’t really feel like that per se. I’m able to identify what I’m doing wrong sooner so I don’t get trapped and having the discipline to change it. I haven’t really been presented with anything that has stumped me. I’m able to adjust my ways.’’

Despite his thoughts, Osking is special, according to JU Director of Student-Athlete Services Chris Johnson.

“It’s extremely rare,” Johnson said. “It’s not often we see someone graduate in less than four years and that being said they’re still play well on the field and contributing to the team’s success. Ian’s got the intelligence to not only doing well on the field but is capable of performing well in the classroom in the College of Business which is not an easy college here. ‘’

Johnson remembers last year when he and coach Kerwin Bell attended graduation.

“We saw Ian walk across the stage and Kerwin didn’t know that he was supposed to be graduating and got a little scared for a second that he was going to lose him,’’ Johnson said. “He didn’t remember he had one more year of eligibility. We don’t have that too often; that kind of says it all right there.’’

McLeod clearly is a believer.

“He has been a saint,’’ he said. “He has started every game and I don’t’ think he’s missed a practice the entire time he’s been here. He’s been an unsung guy for us. You don’t talk about him a lot because he’s always doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s a 100 percent reliable person.’’

-- Jim Nasella