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Pittsburgh's Osborn Plays Three Sports

May 31, 1987|Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Bill Osborn is Pitt's man for all seasons.

At a time when players are often required by coaches to devote year-round attention to their scholarship sport, Osborn plays football . . . and basketball . . . and baseball.

He's the first University of Pittsburgh athlete to play three major varsity sports since a guy named Mike Ditka.

"There's never a dull moment," Osborn said. "Every day is something different and sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day."

Why would an otherwise normal college sophomore get up at 5:30 on a frigid February morning to take baseball batting practice, go to class, go to basketball practice and then study football films at night?

"I live for the game," said the 6-foot, 188-pound Osborn, Pitt's leading football receiver last fall. "I love to play. I love to play in big games."

His friends call the Wildwood Crest, N.J., native "The Wizard of Oz." He's no Dave Winfield, who was drafted by three pro teams in three sports, but he's also no George Plimpton, who just likes to play for the experience.

"For me, playing three sports hasn't hurt me in any of them and has helped me in all of them," said Osborn, a business student with a nearly B average. "Baseball helps me develop my eyes, which helps me catch the ball in football. Basketball kept my legs strong in the winter and helped my quickness. In football, I learn to do a lot of things well because I hold on kicks and I'm on all the special teams."

There are disadvantages to always being in season.

"I'm sore 360 days a year," he said.

Osborn won 11 varsity letters at Wildwood High before being recruited by former Pitt football coach Foge Fazio. A high school quarterback, he initially played defensive back at Pitt before being shifted to wide receiver by Coach Mike Gottfried because of his versatility.

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