Sept. 11, 2002
In the life of an evolving program, especially one under the direction of legendary head coach Howard Schnellenberger, every day, every week and most especially every game is a milestone. And September 7, 2002 is no exception as it marks the first home game of the 2002 season.
Today's contest, dedicated as "Spirit Day," is the first grudge match in FAU football's short history thanks to a 31-28 last-second electrifying victory over Bethune-Cookman College a year ago to the weekend. The essence of "spirit" is exemplified between these two schools and one family in particular: the Osborne family.
This is not an MTV family chronicling their day-to-day lives, but a football family that began as "Wildcats." John Osborne played at B-CC from 1970 to 1973, earning All-America honors as a cornerback/kick returner. This is where he met his future wife, Rosa Lucky. The couple has three children: LaTara, Erika (a student at FSU and the youngest Taurian, a sophomore cornerback at FAU. As a family, the Osbornes have returned each year for the Florida Classic and when possible Bethune's homecoming.
It is no wonder that on a Daytona Beach rain-soaked night (September 8, 2001), John Osborne was escorted across the field and received the accolades due a famous alum. John's spirit and love for the game as an outstanding college player was paralleled in his high school football-coaching career, a career that set the stage for today. Coach Osborne was a high school coach for Mark Richt, the current head coach at the University of Georgia and former FSU offensive coordinator. Howard Schnellenberger recruited Richt to play at Miami.
So 20 years later, it was Osborne promoting, not Schnellenberger. He was promoting his son Taurian to FAU assistant coach and longtime friend Arnie Romero.
"I really didn't talk to FAU until after my final high school game. My dad and Coach Romero are close," says Taurian. "My dad researched the school and he likes and believes in Coach Schnellenberger. He really promoted me to the coaching staff. It was between FAU and Appalachian State. Dad felt FAU would provide better exposure and it was close to home."
Some 20 days after Taurian entered FAU's first pre-season camp he returned the program's first fumble recovery for a touchdown, a 99-yard scamper, and shifted the momentum for the fledgling program against B-CC.
"I had an interception in high school, but it was nowhere near 99 yards. After it happened, I didn't celebrate. In my mind, I just wanted to get back to the sidelines, sit down and catch my breath. The play was over," says Taurian.
Osborne suffered a concussion that game and can only note the score as his first recovery for a touchdown, ever. He would miss a game while recuperating from the concussion, but would later suffer a "stinger" versus Gardner-Webb that he speaks of as lightly as his heroic fumble recovery.
"The Bethune injury I didn't see and then I didn't remember it. The injury at Gardner-Webb I saw happening. It was the way I went for the tackle. My family is very spiritual. I talked with my mom and I'm sure she got on the phone and started a prayer chain. With that, there wasn't a doubt that I would be okay. With a family as spiritual as mine, you don't worry."
That same spirituality helps drive Taurian's character. The character his coaches describe as leadership. He describes it as leading by example.
"I appreciate my teammates and the closeness we have. I want to lead this team by example, motivate my teammates through my actions," says Taurian.
A good example of Taurian's leadership is his work ethic, especially his time in the weight room. He worked throughout the off-season, including the summer, to improve his squats from 315 pounds to 435.
While the FAU fans show their spirit and the marching band takes the field for the first time against a school rich with tradition and historically known for spirit, FAU continues to build it program through the spirit of its players, players like Taurian Osborne.