Aug. 31—KENNESAW — Returning to your alma mater and hometown can be a special experience.
That will be the case for Kennesaw State wide receivers coach Ossie Buchannon, who will return to the campus where he played his college football when the Owls open the 2022 season Thursday at Samford.
The Birmingham, Alabama, native played for the Bulldogs from 2001-05, finishing his career with 130 receptions, 1,472 yards and nine touchdowns. When he graduated with his degree in business administration, he left the program as its third all-time leading receiver, a team captain and the offensive MVP as a senior, and his numbers still rank in the top 15 all-time.
While having a solid playing career and accolades on the field were fulfilling for Buchannon, the biggest honor came from wearing the No. 5 during his senior season. Buchannon was the first recipient of the Charles Williams Memorial Jersey.
Williams was a junior cornerback at Samford when he died in a car accident in May 2003. In only two seasons, he had become a starter, a leader and was a standout student with one of the highest grade-point averages on the team.
Williams made such an impression on the program that, after his death, as a sign of respect, Samford did not reissue Williams' No. 5 in what would have been his junior or senior seasons. Then, going forward, the senior who most represented Williams' qualities would be honored by wearing his number.
"Charles was the first player I met when I joined the program," Buchannon said. "He was a true student-athlete. He was a great friend and a great teammate."
Buchannon, who had previously worn No. 88, said he was surprised to receive the honor, which was given to him during the end-of-the-season banquet following his junior season.
"I had no clue they were going to award it at the banquet," he said.
Buchannon said Williams was one of his best friends, and it was tough when he died. Having the opportunity to wear his number meant a lot, and he said he tried to live up to the honor, and he said he felt like he did.
"I hope so," said Buchannon, who is entering his sixth season on the Kennesaw State staff. "They awarded it because of the kind of person I was, and I hope I carried on his memory."