When it comes to Kennesaw State becoming an FCS power, one has to give the Owls credit in the unique fashion in which they've gone about kicking off a program. For instance, this year the Owls have their first full senior class … known proudly as the O.G.
But what the heck does "O.G." stand for? The "Old Guard" would make sense, right? The "Owl Gang" would fit but might make anybody under the age of 50 cringe (probably over the age of 50, too).
No sir, the "O.G." is a group of 19 seniors and grad students (see full list below) known on KSU's campus as the "Original Gangsters", aptly named by the coaching staff who watched them smack each other around in the fall of 2014, with no opponent in sight. See, Kennesaw State was a new football program. Unlike Mercer, East Tennessee State and Stetson — FCS programs that restarted football around the same time after a number of years pigskin-less — the Owls had absolutely no football history. They were starting from scratch like you'd make a Southern Buttermilk Biscuit — which happen to be pretty good in the greater Atlanta Metro area KSU resides within.
"It just started out a couple of years ago, and it just started catching on and that's what our group became," said HERO Sports Preseason All-American center C.J. Collins, who is one of those original 19. "It feels like a long time ago that we started here, but at the same time it seems not long ago, if that makes any sense. It's wild to be here at this point, five seasons later."
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Fellow Preseason All-American QB Chandler Burks remembers when the O.G. moniker was born.
"I think it just happened organically," Burks told HERO Sports. "I think Coach Bo (Brian Bohannon – see podcast below) brought it up in a team meeting and said we're going to be the O.G.'s, and one day we'll look back at this group in 20 years at the groundwork we laid and the culture we helped create."
Collectively, this first KSU signing class has logged 315 starts and played in 617 games … winning 28 of its first 39 ballgames, good for a 72-percent winning percentage. How's that for a solid recruiting class? This year in particular, the 3-1 Owls — both the O.G. and the N.G. (Next Gangsters, I just labeled them) — are leading the FCS nationally in points scored (201). The team is coming off a quarterfinalist season where it was one touchdown away from being in the FCS final four — the semifinals.
In other words, there's good reason for KSU to be included in the Top Five of FCS polls everywhere, as it currently is. That's how far this program has come since this group of 19 showed up in the August of 2014 knowing it wouldn't get to play a college football game for 13 months.
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So how does its heart and soul leader on offense, QB Burks, feel about how things are going so far?
"You'd think my reaction would be very positive, but we're not clicking on all cylinders, we're missing a few things out there," Burks said. "It's great that we're hanging up points but we're not playing to our standards."
This weekend, the Owls will be tested by a Samford team that has seen some ups and downs this season. The Bulldogs, a team that also knows a thing or two about making the FCS Playoffs, nearly knocked off the Tomahawk Chopping Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee, Fla., and most the nation thought Samford not only could have won the game, but dominated much of it. But since then it's almost like the near FSU win took some wind out of the sails for the Bulldogs, as they've dropped two straight SoCon contests by a total of 13 points.
Kennesaw State is not fooled though. This will be the third matchup with Samford in 13 months (including the 2017 playoff rematch KSU won). They know how good record-breaking QB Devlin Hodges and his teammates are, and they know this is one of the marquee FCS matchups of the weekend and could go a long way in helping determine playoff futures. Burks even told HERO Sports he wished Samford had ended up with the 'W' in Tallahassee, and that he agreed with his QB counterpart Hodges when Devlin tweeted after the near FSU win saying the perceived talent gap between FCS and FBS "doesn't exist".
"Their record (1-3) is not a reflection of who they are," Collins said. "It's pretty cool to play them a third time in a year, and you hope that this is a rivalry just starting to get cranked. These are the guys you played against in high school and their school isn't far away (Birmingham, Ala.). Samford is a great football team and we're excited to play them."
The Original Gangsters (see list below) are pumped and ready.
|THE KSU "O.G."||POS.||STARTS||GMS|
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