Delande Ready for Next Challenge

No one expects Bo Delande to make a large impact in college, but history shows it might be folly to bet against him.

Not being recruited by any Division I schools for football has not stopped the 5-11, 190-pound running back from making his mark in nearly every important football game he's played in during the past year.

First came the state final in which he led his Hilliard Davidson Wildcats to the Ohio Division I title, a first in school history. Delande scored five touchdowns and ran for 236 yards on 47 carries in the 36-35 overtime win against Mentor, but his biggest moment came when he raced in on a two-point conversion to give the Wildcats the walk-off state title win.

Fast forward six months to the June 16 Ohio North-South Classic and there again was Delande, streaking across the middle of the field and catching a pass from quarterback Chris Smith with no one around him. As he waltzed into the end zone at the end of the 27-yard score, the preferred walk-on at Ohio State upstaged his more ballyhooed future teammates who will be on scholarship.

His next challenge will come when he first suits up as a Buckeye. After 25 touchdowns as a senior at Davidson and more than 2,000 yards on the ground, Delande had football offers from places such as Findlay and Youngstown State but the local product decided he'd rather be on the sideline wearing scarlet come September than suiting up for the visiting team.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to walk on for the Ohio State Buckeyes and get a chance to play there," he said. "I know Coach (Jim) Tressel is a great coach and I like that. Since I was little I always wanted to be a Buckeye and the opportunity came along, so I decided to take it."

In doing so, Delande will hope to become one in a long line of walk-ons to make their mark while wearing the scarlet and gray. Skill position players such as wideouts Terry Glenn (1993-95), Brian Stablein (1989-92) and Chad Cacchio (1998-2000) all excelled as Buckeyes, while former Buckeye punter Andy Groom, one of the stars of the 2002 team, also came to Columbus as a walk-on.

More recently, Delande can look to a player like Antonio Smith for encouragement. The Columbus Beechcroft grad worked his way up through special teams before playing all 13 games in 2006 and making 71 tackles, good for a tie for second on the team.

Even if Delande doesn't quite reach the level of Smith or Glenn, he can look at someone like K.C. Christian for hope. With Ohio State down to one scholarship tailback this spring, the Kitts Hill, Ohio, native stepped in and had many fans wondering who the man wearing No. 46 was and if he had the chance to earn playing time in the future.

Delande said that his goal going in is simply to contribute during his time at OSU.

"I'm excited to go there and be a Buckeye and have fun and just work hard," he said. "Hopefully I can contribute in the next couple of years."

If that doesn't work out, Delande has a fallback. A catcher, he drew interest as a baseball player and was recruited by schools like Louisville, Kentucky and Toledo. He said that if his gridiron career does not pan out, he could return to the diamond.

"If everything doesn't work out with football, I might go baseball or look at other things," said Delande, who also wrestled in the 189-pound weight class at Davidson. "They were kind of saying something to me, but for right now I just kind of want to chill after playing three sports in high school all the way through."

He also showed his versatility on the football field as well during the Ohio North-South contest that his Scout team dominated by a 50-7 score. He served as an upback during kickoff returns, was on the kickoff coverage unit and even lined up at fullback at times. During his touchdown catch, he was split out wide to the left and came across the middle to catch the pass from Smith, something he termed as fun.

"You want to win it and do well, but to come out here and have fun is the main key in an all-star game," he said.

That versatility could help him find the field as Ohio State as well. He expects to play running back but said he could play in the defensive backfield if need be even though it's not something he did a whole lot of in high school.

He enters OSU with the kind of attitude one would expect out of someone who hopes to make the best of their dream.

"I just wanted to be a Buckeye," Delande said. "They gave me the opportunity and I'm very thankful for it."

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