Joel Osborn

Northwest Missouri State assistant coach Joel Osborn coaches the receivers during a 2018 preseason practice at Bearcat Stadium. 

MARYVILLE, Mo. — Joel Osborn has dedicated 15 years of his life to building up the Northwest Missouri State football program as a player and coach, but he is now excited to attack the next stage of his football journey.

On Thursday, it was announced that his next step would be as the next head coach at Benedictine College, a NAIA powerhouse program located in Atchison, Kansas.

“It is very similar to Northwest from the aspect of you being able to compete for a championship every year, and the support from the college, the community and the alumni is phenomenal, and people rally care about the football program there,” Osborn said. “… At the end of the day, it is a great fit.”

Osborn replaces Larry Wilcox, who retired after leading the Raven football program since 1979. Wilcox finished his career with 304-153 record.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to be able to be the head football coach at Benedictine College,” Osborn said. “The tradition there and the foundation that has been laid by Coach Wilcox and his staff is phenomenal.

“… We are just looking to build off what they have done and then do the best that we can to make it better.”

Osborn came to Northwest in 2004 after a standout career for Harlan High School in Harlan, Iowa. He became the only Bearcat quarterback to start two national championship games and was the MIAA MVP in 2008.

After his playing career, Osborn began to work his way up through the coaching ranks at Northwest, starting as a graduate assistant. In his personal life, he was diagnosed with cancer during his time as a graduate assistant, but was eventually declared cancer-free and has been for the past decade.

As a full-time assistant coach at Northwest, Osborn has coached the team’s wide receivers, tight ends and running backs during different portions of his career and also spent 2018 and 2019 as the team’s co-offensive coordinator.

Osborn thanks the coaches that he has worked with at Northwest for helping to prepare him for this opportunity.

“I was fortunate to play for great coaches in high school,” Osborn said. “And then coming here and getting the opportunity to play for Coach (Mel) Tjeerdsma and his great staff, and then getting the opportunity to work with them as a graduate assistant coach, and the get hired full-time by Scott Bostwick, and then being able to work alongside Adam Dorrel, Charlie Flohr, Rich Wright, Kenny Gordon, Chad Bostwick and Brandon Clayton, and most recently Todd Sturdy and Mike Cunningham — all those guys have been a tremendous influence in my life.

“I have other guys who were mentors too. You just do the best job you can to surround yourself with people who are successful, and then hopefully make good decisions and good things will happen.”

Coaching is also something that Osborn has been around his whole life with his father Mitch Osborn being a legendary basketball coach at Harlan with over 700 career wins.

“It starts with my dad,” Osborn said. “He been a tremendous role model for me. I’ve always looked up to him. I’ve always wanted to get into coaching because of him. It is in my blood.”

Osborn is excited about embracing the community in Atchison along with his wife Audrey, a former Bearcat track and field athlete, and their sons Jack, Colin and Isaac.

Osborn’s attention now turns to introducing himself to his new team and community.

“There is a lot of good football in our recruiting footprint,” Osborn said. “I’m looking forward to developing relationships with people in the community of Atchison. In terms of recruiting, I’ve already got those relationships developed, so it is just going to be a matter of connecting with the coaches that we need to connect with to bring in good football players who can be successful at Benedictine College.”