Sept. 22, 2004
Not Your Average Defensive Back
by Melissa Amper, FSU Sports Information
He stands six-foot tall and weights 198 pounds. To most of the world, he appears to be your just another of the outstanding athletes playing in the FSU defensive backfield. To his friends, family, teammates and coaches, he is much more than that.
He is Claudius Osei. He was a German foreign exchange student with a dream. A dream that one day became a reality thanks to the NFL Futures Program sponsored by NFL Europe.
Claudius Osei’s dream was to travel to the United States to finish high school and compete for a chance to play Division I collegiate football. His wish was granted in 1999 when the German native traveled to Tallahassee to start his senior year of high school at North Florida Christian. Osei’s decision came shortly after former teammate and long-time friend, Constantin Ritzmann, finished high school at North Florida Christian and received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee.
“I saw how successful Ritzmann was in the United States and his national championship at Tennessee and I wanted to do the same thing,” says Osei. “He was the only one from our country to do that.”
Upon graduation from North Florida Christian in 2000, Osei was a highly recruited high school player at defensive back and wide receiver. He selected Florida State over Georgia Tech and the University of Tennessee.
Although Osei eagerly traveled to the United States to begin his career, he did not endure an easy journey along the way. Osei had to leave his family behind in his homeland of Hamburg, Germany to travel to an unfamiliar nation with different customs and a new way of life. He had to overcome the skepticism he faced from his country and from his football community to prove that he too could be successful in the U.S.
While some things came easier than others for Osei, he had to become accustomed to a new way of life in the United States. Although he understood about 80 percent of the English language, he still had difficulty adjusting.
“Everything was a learning experience,” says Osei. “The hardest part was trying to order off of a menu at a restaurant. I was familiar with the names of foods but I did not always know what the foods were made of.”
Although homesick at first, after six or seven months, Osei became well adjusted and comfortable with his new life in the United States. He thanks his comfort in part to his girlfriend, Precious, and her family.
“My girlfriend’s parents helped me out a lot because I had no family here,” he said.
Osei was first introduced to football at the age of 12 but was too young to begin playing competitively. He was forced to play with the 15 year-olds and after only a short while gave up the sport for three years. He would begin playing again at the age of 15 for the Hamburg Blue Devils Junior Team. After only two years, he made the senior team at the age of 17.
While Osei proved to be successful in football, it was not the only sport he excelled in. Osei held the 50-meter track record in Hamburg for the 12 and 13 year-olds for the LG Nord West club team.
Even with Osei’s family an entire continent away, they still do not miss the opportunity to participate in his success. While Osei’s parents have never traveled to the United States to watch him play, his older brother, Padmore, traveled to the 2002 Sugar Bowl to see FSU play against Georgia. His parents, however, receive a tape each Wednesday following the game to watch their son.
“I try to only tell them a little bit about the game,” he said. “They know if we won or lost but I usually wait to talk about how many tackles I had until after they have seen the tape.”
As Osei begins his senior season, he is ready to improve his game and finish his senior year with a bang.
“I have improved my speed, quickness and my overall athletic ability,” he said. “I want to show scouts that I have what it takes to play in the NFL.”
No matter when Osei’s playing days are finished, he would like to make use of his degree in real estate and business management. He intends to invest in and sell real estate.
Whether its playing football or selling real estate, there’s no question Claudius Osei has proven that he has what it takes to be a success.