BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Two years ago, John Oglesby had an outstanding freshman season at Bakersfield College. But last fall the defensive end faced a dilemma: whether to continue in college or walk away.
He withdrew from BC in the fall after becoming academically ineligible to play football. But Oglesby returned to the college in the spring, got his academics in order and has returned to the football program this season.
Fullerton (1-1) at BC (1-1)
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Stadium
Series: Fullerton leads 13-4
State ranking: Fullerton 22nd, BC unranked
SoCal ranking: Fullerton 13th, BC 16th
Radio: 1180 AM (pregame 5:30 p.m.)
Tailgate: Best tri-tip ($500 prize to winner)
Notes: Jan Stuebbe, former athletic director, football assistant coach and former quarterback at BC, will be the honorary captain and will participate in the coin flip before tonight's game. ... Arguably BC's most memorable game, the 1988 Shrine Potato Bowl, featured the Renegades and Fullerton in a battle of 10-0 teams. BC won 30-24 to win the JC Grid-Wire national title. That was BC's last undefeated season. ... BC, despite only four wins in 17 prior meetings vs. Fullerton, has won the last two meetings, 54-20 in the 2005 Golden Empire Bowl and 34-31 in overtime in the 2006 season opener. ... Both teams are coming off losses. Fullerton lost 46-30 to Cerritos and BC lost at Mount San Antonio, 34-14. Fullerton opened its season by beating Long Beach 52-21 on Sept. 1.
"I didn't have my stuff together. I wasn't focused on school," Oglesby said of his decision to withdraw from BC last year.
"I was focused on me at the time. I've come a long way from then."
Oglesby, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end, will join his Renegades teammates tonight at 6 when they play host to Fullerton College in a battle of 1-1 teams at Memorial Stadium.
Oglesby said he missed playing football during his ineligible period.
"I missed it a lot," he said. "I missed the atmosphere and just being a part of the team. It's like you're with family, and that is what I missed."
To be eligible this season, Oglesby had to do the job academically last spring, and then needed two summer school classes to ensure his eligibility. He said he met several times with BC coach Jeff Chudy, who helped steer Oglesby back to BC.
“You have only so many chances in life to do things,” he said. “This is my last shot. I’m just giving it all I have.”
Chudy said he emphasized to Oglesby that he had to be completely dedicated if he wanted to return.
“I told him he had to be passionate,” Chudy said. “It requires too much time and effort not to have passion. It came down to this: he missed it. He realizes he has a chance to do something special if he’s 100 percent all-in.
“As a coach, using the old cliché, you can lead a horse to water but at the end of the day the player has to want to get it done. I think he’s figured out what it’s going to take to be special. He has moments where he’s dominating. Other times he’s not. He’s just got to get over that hump.”
Oglesby admitted it was a big adjustment once he graduated from Highland High in 2009 and then began taking college classes at BC.
“The school part is what caught me,” said Oglesby, who is studying ag-business and plans on a career with his family’s farming operation. “Up here, you don’t have people on you every single day, saying ‘You need to be here,’ or ‘You can’t do that’ or ‘You can’t do this.’ You have to be self-motivated.
“If you don’t do the work up here, it will hit you real quick. I got a reality check real fast.”
Oglesby enjoys the competition, and he’s already decided to pursue rugby after he’s done with football.
He’s played some rugby in the past, most recently with the Kern Rugby team. Some of his rugby teammates are in their 40s. Oglesby is 21.
“Oh, yeah, I’ll definitely be doing it into my 40s,” he said. “If things don’t follow through in football, rugby’s my backup plan.”
There are some similarities between rugby and football.
“The tackling is the closest thing,” Oglesby said. “And you’re a team, you’re united. Outside of rugby, you’re united, you’re together. It’s one big happy family in rugby.”
Oglesby has also added punter to his football responsibilities this season.
“My senior year at Highland I ended up punting, and I did some rugby kicks,” Oglesby said. “This year I asked Chudy about doing it and he wasn’t having it because I had a hamstring (injury) at the time. But they had me do it once the season started.”
His longest punt in practice is 60 yards, Oglesby said. He had a 55-yard punt in BC’s opener against Santa Ana.
“I’m just trying to get better,” Oglesby said. “It’s just repetition. I need to practice more.”