Where in the world is Austin Osborne?
The answer is obvious in some ways, and frustratingly unattainable in others. Literally, Osborne — Washington’s 6-foot-2, 199-pound redshirt freshman wide receiver — is standing on the sideline while his teammates play. He’s there for practices, meetings and warm ups. He was in attendance when the Huskies took on Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., on Friday.
But where is he, really? Why isn’t he in the mix? With impressive freshman Puka Nacua sidelined with a broken foot, a number of Husky wide receivers have emerged in recent weeks. Redshirt sophomore Terrell Bynum has caught a team-high 13 passes in his last two games. Redshirt junior Jordan Chin has hauled in touchdowns — the first two of his career — in the last two games. Redshirt freshman Marquis Spiker contributed his first two career catches against Oregon and Utah. Senior starters Aaron Fuller and Andre Baccellia have been unsurprisingly involved as well.
(Another former four-star redshirt freshman, Trey Lowe, has reportedly entered the transfer portal and is no longer with the program.)
But of the available bodies, Osborne seems to be the odd man out. And that might be hard to figure. When he signed with Washington out of Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School in 2018, Osborne was ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 242 overall prospect in his class by 247Sports. Last April, Petersen said Osborne “is really progressing. I know Austin is going to be a good player for us. He’s smart and he did some really good things in high school and played at a high level. So he’s one of the guys I really want to see take that next step where everybody starts noticing.”
To this point, nobody’s noticing.
Or, more accurately, nobody outside the program.
“It sounds cliché, but I think everybody on our roster could really be a guy any and everywhere. They just need an opportunity,” Bynum said this week. “Austin Osborne, for one, he’s really catching the ball. If you throw it to him, he’s going to catch it. So if he gets an opportunity I know he’ll take advantage of it. (Spiker), he’s coming along. He’s getting opportunities now. Everybody. You see Jordan Chin (scoring).
“Those guys have been working. They’ve been balling at practice too. It’s just, who’s going to get the ball and who’s going to go make the plays?”
Osborne — who has one catch for -2 yards in three games this season — has yet to really receive that opportunity. Maybe it’ll come in the final quarter of an underwhelming regular season. Or maybe the questions will continue to persist.
“He’s working. He’s working,” first-year UW wide receivers coach Junior Adams said of Osborne this week. “This week, Austin has made some really good plays for us in practice. So he’s going to keep working and we’re going to work on trying to get him in on some things.”