Running back Bo Delande has put together quite a nice year for himself.
Last fall, he led Hilliard Davidson to the Division I state football championship with a stellar senior season. And recently he fulfilled a dream when he accepted an offer to join Ohio State’s football team as a preferred walk-on in August.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Delande (pronounced deh-LAND-ee) rushed for 2,214 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2006. In Hilliard’s 36-35 double-overtime victory over Mentor in the title game, he carried 47 times for 236 yards and five touchdowns. The latter statistics set a record for the D-I championship game. Oh yeah, and he also scored the winning two-point conversion on a very gutsy do-or-die call by head coach Brian White.
When it came time to choose a college, Delande had his pick of D-II and D-III schools, but he finally got the call he was really waiting for.
“Yeah, I had a couple offers from some other schools and I also looked into playing baseball for a while,” Delande said. “But when Ohio State came along, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s a dream of mine and I’ve always wanted to be a Buckeye. (Head coach Jim) Tressel is a great guy and he is going to turn me into a better person and a better football player.”
And Tressel has proven time and time again that he is more than willing to reward walk-ons with playing time and even scholarships if they earn it.
“Oh yeah, that’s my goal is to go in there and work hard and hopefully in the next couple years I can contribute on the field,” Delande said.
So where would the former Hilliard Davidson star have gone if the Ohio State situation never materialized?
“I’m not even sure because I was keeping my options open all the way through,” Delande said. “But I’m just glad the opportunity came up with Ohio State. I’m very thankful for that. I’m not even sure where I would have gone other than OSU.”
As for that D-I championship game thriller last year, Delande and the Wildcats were able to complete a storybook 15-0 season and no one will forget the final play of the game with everything on the line.
“I knew and everyone knew on the team that we were going to go for it,” Delande said. “I believed in myself and I told myself that I was going to get in. I knew that our O-line was going to bear down and hold up for one play and create the hole. I was confident and I knew we were going to get it.”
Delande will play in the Ohio North-South Classic on Saturday at Crew Stadium (7 p.m., ONN) and was all smiles at media day at Otterbein College on Monday.
“This is so much fun,” he said. “We’re having such a good time here just practicing and hanging out. All the new guys that you meet, it’s just a blast. This is the oldest all-star game in the country and it’s an honor to be here.”
And once the game ends, Delande will continue working out on the plan he was given by Eric Lichter and OSU’s strength and conditioning staff.
“I’ve been doing all the workouts they gave me and have been working really hard on that,” Delande said. “I report in August when camp begins. It’s great that it’s almost here. I’m going to go in there and work hard and do whatever I can to help the team.”
Hilliard Davidson has just five returning starters this year, but Delande is confident that his alma mater will keep its place as the premier program in Central Ohio.
“They’ll be fine,” he said. “They have a lot of great players that will step up and we’ll be good. Coach White is a great coach and I’m looking forward to taking that next step and playing for a great coach in Coach Tressel, also.”