Buffalo, New York and Miami, Florida are nearly polar opposites.
But for Hurricanes wide receiver K.J. Osborn, the decision was easy.
And quickly the 21-year old graduate transfer is changing the climate in sunny South Florida.
“One of the great advantages of our first offseason with the indoor is this place really is like our players’ playground,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “They have the ability to come in here and catch balls out of the JUGS. And what happens is K.J.’s doing it and all of a sudden, another guy will show up, and another guy will do it, and he starts to create habits in a room that didn’t really have habits. He’s doing exactly what we thought in terms of helping us change the culture of that wide receiver room.”
Since arriving in January, Osborn has garnered the respect of his coaches and teammates, especially junior receiver Mike Harley.
“That’s what we needed, that leadership,” Harley said. “Without him coming in, it would have been just me and Evidence [Njoku] and Jeff Thomas. We would have been the older guys. It’s a great feeling having that older guy who has been there for four or five years. He’s teaching us knowledge, pushing us more.”
Even the players defending Osborn in practice have noticed his drive.
“He was a leader the first day he stepped on campus. His work ethic is really what separates him from everyone else,” cornerback Trajan Bandy said. “After practice he catches a million balls. He gets after it. He’s a good kid.”
Osborn starred for the Bulls, finishing with 53 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. And while Miami’s offense ranked as one of the worst among Power 5 teams, the 6-foot, 205 pound pass catcher was tearing up the Mid-American Conference, earning second-team honors.
He completed his degree in sociology last fall at Buffalo and sought opportunities to play at a higher level but also wanted to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice.
And it came down to Miami and Florida State who were able to offer Osborn just that.
“It was a good fit for me I feel like,” Osborn said of picking the Hurricanes. “With Coach Diaz, I knew that whoever he brought in as the OC, the quarterback was going to get it done. I feel like we’re going to be fine. Last year was last year. We’re excited about this year. Whoever the quarterback is, it’s going to be a good situation. We’re going to get it fixed.”
Nearly five months before Osborn hit the football field in a competitive game for the Hurricanes, his presence has been felt in Miami’s receiver room.
“K.J. was brought in because we have very talented wide receivers, but we’re very young,” Diaz said. It’s not about whether they can play, it’s about do they understand how to practice, do they understand how to prepare, do they understand how to go to meetings? By all accounts of what we heard about K.J. at Buffalo, he was a star in all those things, in addition to the fact that he was a really, really productive player on the field. He has probably exceeded our expectations since he’s been here. We can’t kick him out of the building. He’s always in the meeting rooms.”
And that was evident after UM’s second spring practice.
Osborn wrapped up his first media availability as a Hurricane and stayed after to catch passes from Ohio State transfer quarterback Tate Martell inside the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility.
“Obviously, when you come in, you’ve got to earn your spot. You’ve got to earn it,” Osborn said. “Nothing is going to be given to you.”