Colorado State’s football team meets regularly to be addressed by coaches and to analyze film. Last Thursday’s meeting went a little differently than the regular routine, though.
During the meeting, head coach Mike Bobo announced to the team that Kevin O’Brien, a walk-on at that point, had been granted a scholarship.
The announcement to O’Brien and the team can be seen in a YouTube video released by the school.
“If we had 22 Kevin O’Brien’s, we wouldn’t lose a game,” offensive coordinator Will Friend said in the video.
Bobo was quick to second that.
“I agree with you, coach,” Bobo said in the video. “That’s why I’m giving him a scholarship.”
It was then, as one would expect, that the room exploded. O’Brien’s teammates were visibly and audibly ecstatic to hear the news.
“I was shocked and really excited,” junior offensive lineman Fred Zerblis said after Tuesday’s practice. “I was really happy for him.”
O’Brien, who was not made available to the media, had to earn his stripes. He competed every day with teammates who were on scholarship and proved to them, along with the coaches, that he deserved it.
“I haven’t seen a guy put in more work than Kevin does,” senior offensive lineman Sam Carlson said. “He’s a guy who didn’t get the money but was still putting in as much work as everyone else, if not more work.”
O’Brien – or K.O., as Zerblis called him – started in 10 of the 11 games he played last season for CSU. He was a vital part of an offensive line that helped lead the Rams to their best regular season record (10-2) since 2000. His presence and versatility on the offensive line has become key to the unit’s overall success.
“K.O. is really smart, like probably the smartest kid that I know,” Zerblis said. “He’s picked up on everything and I think it’s a benefit having him at center.”
The Rams are hopeful that the offense can put up big rushing numbers again this season and keep the quarterback upright with O’Brien at center, but they still have some things to work on in practice.
“There’s always things we can work on as a unit,” Zerblis said. “We can work on being more physical or finishing, but I think the main thing is getting into the playbook a little bit more and making it second nature.”
Finishing is another thing that the offensive line, and the offense as a whole, can work on before the season opener Sept. 5 at Hughes Stadium against Savannah State.
“In the scrimmages, we’ve had times where we are moving the ball down field and just get stopped by the defense in the red zone, so we’ve just got to work on finishing and executing in the red zone,” Carlson said.
Bobo still seems pleased with where his offense is at in the first week of school and with the opener right around the corner.
“I thought, for the most part, the guys did well,” Bobo said. “I thought the offense responded from the scrimmage on Saturday and came out and had a great day.”
How about the team? Are the players feeling ready for the season to start?
“Definitely. We have guys buying into the system, learning everything and putting in extra time,” Carlson said. “I think we’re going to be right where we need to be at kickoff on Sept. 5.”
Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Huebnermedia93.