By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Things remain civil in the Osei Kusi household in Brampton.
So far, big brother Ricky, the all-conference defensive end of the Western Mustangs, hasn’t made much of a fuss over the fact that kid brother Chris has chosen to cast his football lot with the arch-rival Queen’s Golden Gaels.
Chris Osei Kusi chuckled at the suggestion that Ricky might have already engaged in some good natured trash talk. “Just a bit,” he said. “We kind of talked about it.”
Ricky Osei Kusi is a highly touted prospect for the Canadian Football League draft in May, and is a good candidate to play in the league next year.
“If my brother ends up going back to Western, there will probably be a little more taunting in Week 4,” Chris said with a grin. “I’ve already got it marked on my calendar. I’m ready for that week.”
Chris Osei Kusi, one of the most highly sought recruits in the province, hopes to be playing by then. Uncommon as it is for freshmen to start at Queen’s, Gaels coach Pat Sheahan won’t discount that possibility. Osei Kusi, he said, “has it all.”
“For first-year kids, it can be a humbling experience when you go to the next level, playing against older guys, but he’s one of those players we think could be a fast-track guy. He’s fast, he’s big, he’s physical, he’s muscular—he’s a cut above.
“To be honest, we have high expectations for him coming in here. He’s a guy who appears to acclimate to the level of competition. It’s going to be good for him to get up against better players.”
Getting Chris out from under the nose of the school where his older brother has distinguished himself, “really was a coup,” Sheahan said.
“I did coach his high school coach, which helped a little bit,” Sheahan said, “but it didn’t help me (four years ago) with the brother.
“He also knows we’re rebuilding the receiving corps, so that may have had a little bit to do with it, too. The kids all know now; they’re very well informed. They know who’s graduating, they know who’s looking (for people at their position). I think he just felt his opportunities here at Queen’s were more favourable, to play earlier, and the style of offence that we play, he liked that a little bit better.”
Osei Kusi said that, indeed, is the case. Rather than finding Sheahan’s expectations imposing, he shares them.
“I feel strongly in my ability, and if I come with my head straight and I’m able to get my playbook down, I feel I can get in there early,” he said, “and, hopefully, be on the OUA all-rookie team. I set these goals, so when I work out during the summer I realize what I’m doing it for.
“It’s always good to have a plan. My plan is to come in and work hard, try to beat out whoever’s in front of me and make an impact as soon as possible.”
Osei Kusi said the scale tipped in Queen’s favour for a couple of reasons. “I was a little more comfortable here with the coaches,” he said, “and also I like the academic support a little bit better here. Academics has always been important to me. Queen’s excels in football and academics, and that was something that pushed me over the edge.”
Familiarity played a part, too, both with the program and particularly with Gaels offensive co-ordinator Ryan Sheahan, who was a member of the Team Ontario coaching staff last summer when Osei Kusi was part of the Canada Cup gold-medal winning team.
“I know Queen’s sends the most receivers to the CFL, and that’s my ultimate goal—to go to the CFL,” Osei Kusi said. “Working with Coach Ryan on Team Ontario, I know what kind of coach he is, and I know he sees me as a guy who can come in and make plays. That’s what I want to be recognized as: As a guy that can make the big play when it’s needed. I know that he’ll be able to move me into the offence properly and use me in a way that I’m able to excel.”