Time has moved so fast. For Marquill Osborne, things are changing at a pace more rapid than the world’s fastest 40-time. Yet memories of that first day together as a complete family remain intact.
“My parents came into my life at 7-years-old,” the Tennessee signee said when asked about the day he was adopted. “I remember everything about the day. It was exciting, knowing that those were my parents.”
Osborne remembers it all: There were smiles, hugs and even a trip to Disney World. More importantly, there was a foundation laid, even at that early age, that would prove incredibly beneficial later in life. Osborne had the perfect environment to grow into a young man.
Osborne’s father, Carl Osborne, doesn’t think of his son as adopted. Quite simply, that’s “our son,” he said.
His son just happens to be one of the gems of Tennessee’s 2016 signing class. Osborne, a 4-star defensive back who will enroll in January, fills a dire position of need for the Vols. The standout from William Amos Hough (Cornelius, N.C.) is the No. 14 cornerback in the nation and the No. 7 overall prospect in North Carolina..
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound prospect is a perfect fit for the Vols – and that’s not solely based on physical ability. His maturity is a huge factor.
“He was raised around a bunch of adults to respect and always look a man in the eye and just be respectful,” Carl Osborne said. “He just grew up real fast that way and he’s become that young man.”
The Osborne’s first realized Marquill’s potential as a high school freshman. Suddenly, the childhood dreams of playing college football and eventually entering the NFL seemed realistic.
“That’s when I started realizing how good I was and that’s when coaches started telling me I had potential to go to the next level,” Marquill said.
Marquill wasn’t about to become complacent just because he had some early success in high school. It made him more determined. His father said the whole family became focused on football and academics to help Marquill reach his goals. The family created a support group called “Team Marquill.”
“That door had cracked open and we were going to crack it wide open,” Carl said.
Marquill committed to Tennessee in September over scholarship offers from Virginia Tech and Clemson. He took an official to Ohio State in October, but it just didn’t feel right.
“We’ve raised him to be loyal and be a man of his word,” Osborne’s mother, Ileana, said. “He kind of felt like he was cheating on his girlfriend when he was going anywhere else.”
So he didn’t go anywhere else. If there was ever a moment Marquill questioned his decision, it was shortly after the regular season when coaching rumors circulated around the Vols. Special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Mark Elder accepted the head coach’s position at Eastern Kentucky. Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez had been rumored to join good friend Mark Richt at Miami. Elder and Martinez were key in Marquill’s recruitment.
The Osbornes were understandably concerned. Then, Martinez and coach Butch Jones paid the family a special visit. With other undecided prospects waiting to be wooed, the two coaches took time to visit the Osborne family on Dec. 13, the last day before the recruiting dead period went into effect. It was an important weekend since Marquill would soon be headed to the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Fla., then off to Knoxville.
“It was the last time the family could be together before Marquill goes off to school,” Ileana said of the visit. “It meant a lot for us.”
Time continues to fly by for the Osborne family. Soon, their only child will be headed off to enroll in college.
“It’s a joy right now but I think when we get closer and closer to time to leave, everybody will get more emotional,” Marquill said. “Right now, everybody is just happy.”
Said Ileana, “As a mom, it’s been bittersweet. I’d say the most bittersweet moment is knowing that my little boy is leaving the nest, but it’s definitely for the best because as a parent, your ultimate goal is to do what’s best for your child and to see him be successful and live out his dream.”
Carl Osborne helped put all of this into action. He saw the potential in that high school freshman. He also saw a 7-year-old son that would grow into an impressive adult. High school football is done. College football is beginning. Now, hope lies in an NFL future.
“It’s a blessing,” Carl said. “Obviously God put him in our lives for a reason. We did this together. It’s been a great journey. We ended one chapter of the book. We’re entering a second chapter of the book and hopefully we’ll make the third chapter.”
Hindsight foretells Marquill should enjoy this chapter. His time at Tennessee will vanish as quickly as his time in high school. It’s now up to Tennessee’s coaching staff to try to make Marquill feel like a part of the family. He feels certain it will happen.
“They’re definitely a second family to me,” Osborne said of Tennessee’s coaches. “Everytime I go there, I feel like I’m at home.
“They’re going to take care of me, like my family does.”