BGSU's head coach Dino Babers talks to his team during the BGSU football scrimmage. Blade/Amy E. Voigt
BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University football coach Dino Babers had a surprise for his team following Wednesday’s practice.
After a few announcements, Babers asked senior Victor Osborne and junior Dernard Turner to step forward.
The Falcons first-year coach announced that the pair of walk-ons had earned scholarships.
“I had talked to the coaches about it over the summer, but I had talked to the last staff about it as well,” Osborne said. “I really didn’t expect it at all. I was preparing myself to work, so to get this is really exciting.”
Turner also was excited, adding, “I’m just happy to be playing here after two years as a JUCO. I’m excited — now I don’t have to focus on paying for school.”
While the players obviously are excited about the offer, Babers admitted he gets excited about the announcement too.
“Those guys will tear up — they’re trying to hold back because they have their [football] family in front of them,” Babers said. “But they’re standing next to me, and I can see their eyes water.
“They’re out here playing for ‘free.’ And when someone says the way you’ve been playing for free is worth getting paid by getting their education paid, that’s emotional.
“And think about the call they get to make to mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, auntie and uncle, to tell them all the sacrifices are about to paid off. That’s emotional.”
Babers said there were several factors that led him to offer the scholarships.
“[I saw] their dedication, their work ethic,” he said. “They come to practice every day, and they’re contributors. They are guys who are going to help us win football games. And they’re doing it right off the field, in the classroom, as well.”
Turner, an All-American at College of DuPage last season, realized the scholarship was in part a reward for the hard work he had put in academically.
“I had to get my grades right,” Turner said. “When I left in BG in 2012, my grades weren’t on point.
“So getting my grades right this summer was really important.”
For Osborne, the reward was for three years of hard work that had led to time on special teams, where he has made 23 tackles in the last two seasons.
“The last staff had talked about it, but it hadn’t happened,” he said. “It’s hard to not lose faith on it. So for this to come out of nowhere — yes! To know the hard work you put in every year and in the summer is paying off — and that the coaches see it — is rewarding.”