The 2018 football season was one for the record books for Kennesaw State University. The young program reached the Football Championship Series (FCS) quarterfinals for the second straight year, claimed back-to-back Big South championship titles, dominated conference postseason awards and said goodbye to the OGs.
Kennesaw State head coach Brian Bohannon affectionately referred to the first Owl recruiting class as the Original Gangsters, or OGs. The first signing class spent an entire year just practicing, not playing a single down until the second year on campus. Five years after the first team workout on Aug. 19, 2014, there are 18 OGs left.
“They came here on a whim and a prayer and a vision and a belief of something they couldn’t see, couldn’t touch, couldn’t feel and they made it happen,” Bohannon said. “They laid bricks. They did things that people normally wouldn’t do to lay a foundation for something that, hopefully, we’ll continue to build on, from program standpoint. I can’t thank them enough.”
The OGs have an overall 37-12 record and posted two consecutive 11-win seasons. Accomplishments continued to pour in this season, as KSU captured its second straight Big South title, with a 51-14 win at Monmouth Nov. 10, going a perfect 5-0 in league play. The Owls went on to claim the No. 4 seed in the FCS playoffs after a thrilling 60-52 win over then-No. 6 Jacksonville State in five overtimes at SunTrust Park, the first football game played at the home of the Atlanta Braves.
Seeded fourth in the FCS playoffs, the Owls received a first-round bye and hosted Wofford in the second round, claiming a 13-10 victory to advance in the playoffs.
Kennesaw State returned to the FCS quarterfinals Dec. 8, taking on South Dakota State, the second top-five ranked team KSU has faced, and the first at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The Owls knocked off then-No. 3 Jacksonville State on the road last year in the playoffs.
The 27-17 loss to South Dakota State ended KSU’s historic season, and the 18 OGs’ collegiate careers, but the foundation laid by these student-athletes never will be forgotten.
“We’ll look back at this group in 20 years and see the groundwork we laid and the culture we helped create,” said quarterback Chandler Burks, the first KSU football signee.
Since 2008, Kennesaw State’s 37 victories in its first four seasons are second among all NCAA Division I startups, second only to Old Dominion (38). KSU is the only team in its first four years to put together two separate 10-game winning streaks.
– Katie Beall, editor of Around Acworth.