Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs receiver Owusu used to competition

TAMPA — Chris Owusu faces a fierce battle to earn a receiver spot with the Bucs.

But the former Stanford star is no stranger to standing out in a crowded competition, especially with his high-achieving siblings at the family's Oxnard, Calif., home.

One brother, Brian, 22, is a defensive back at Harvard. Another, Francis, 18, will be a freshman receiver at Stanford. His sister, Crystal, 20, plays basketball at Columbia, and youngest brother, Michael, 15, is rated among the top-50 ninth-grade football players by

But Chris, 23, the oldest child, set the standard.

"They all look up to him," said their father, Francis, a former Olympic sprinter for Ghana. "He's a great role model."

Owusu has been impressive in training camp. He seemingly makes a great grab or two each practice, including Saturday, when he took some snaps with the first team as Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson sat out.

"He's done a good job of taking advantage of his opportunities," receivers coach John Garrett said. "He's making the expected plays … then making some unexpected plays sometimes; tough, physical catches, getting open against some good guys. He's just playing with confidence."

All Owusu has wanted was a chance, having gone undrafted in 2012 as teams were concerned about the three concussions he suffered during a 13-month span while at Stanford. Owusu, a biology major, said his symptoms were gone quickly and after studying the issue believed it would not get in his way of playing professional football.

Even if Owusu had to take the long way, beginning last season on the Chargers' practice squad after being one of the final training camp cuts by San Francisco then signing with the Bucs in September.

"I always dreamed of getting drafted into the NFL, and when that didn't happen, you've got to look to other things," said Owusu, who was active for five games last season and made his only catch, for 24 yards, against the Saints on Dec. 16.

"It's not where you start, but where you finish. I'm just trying to embrace that motto."

Owusu's parents, Francis (Ghana) and Luaiva (Samoa), taught him the importance of balance from the start. They immigrated to the United States for a better life and wanted their kids to "do something substantial to help the country grow."

Education was one of their core values. So while the kids were all athletic, each playing multiple sports, Francis wouldn't let Chris play until after fourth grade.

"I said if he makes anything less than an A, he was never going to play sports," Francis said. "And he never made anything less than an A."

Chris said the kids pushed — and supported — each other through their whirlwind schedules, having to learn time management.

"There was definitely a sibling rivalry," Owusu said. "That household was a mess at all times. We were over here. We were over there. But it helped us embrace each other and just come together as a family and get into good schools and balance academics with athletics."

Owusu, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, said he wants to be just like his father, who ran the 400 meters for Ghana in the 1976 Olympics. Owusu has some of his dad's speed, which he showed in beating corner Anthony Gaitor on a 57-yard touchdown during Saturday's practice.

Owusu said he has been helped a lot by veterans such as Jackson and Williams and tried to learn all the receiver positions to become more versatile.

"That guy is awesome; very talented guy, fast," Gaitor said. "And he's a pretty good route runner. He's getting better each and every day competing."

With all of their successful children, Francis said he's told almost every day by someone that he and his wife should write a book. Everyone wants to know their "secret."

Francis says the key is great kids — who listen. As for a book, he said that could eventually happen. They have a story to tell, but it won't be written by him.

"It'll be the kids," Francis said. "They will write it themselves."

And Chris will likely take the lead.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith

Bucs receiver Owusu used to competition 08/04/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 4, 2013 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.