Stanford, Owusu enjoying national notoriety while it lasts


Francis Owusu has had a television crew following him the past few days and he acknowledged enjoying the attention. His older brother, former Stanford star Chris Owusu, now playing with the New York Jets in the NFL, fielded more questions about Francis' catch than anything else.

"I'm still in a state of disbelief," Cardinal coach David Shaw said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "I don't know how he did it. He picked the perfect time to clasp his hands on the football. Wow."

Sacred Heart Prep grad Ben Burr-Kirven and his Washington Huskies will face Stanford on Saturday. Photo by Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports.
As soon as Saturday's 56-35 victory over UCLA was over, players were scrambling to catch highlights. Everyone except Owusu, who had a paper to write.

"I was up until 4 or 5 in the morning to finish the paper for one of my communication classes," he said. "I was pretty fired up writing it."

Owusu's catch, pinning the football against the defender's back and holding on without any clear view of the pass has been dissected from every angle and every speed and has achieved legendary status, thanks to the miracle of television, in just a few short days.

"It's surreal just to see it on ESPN," Owusu said. "I'm enjoying the moment and hope to continue to make plays. When I got bumrushed by my teammates, that's when it was a touchdown."

Cardinal cornerback Ronnie Harris said players wanted to watch the play just to see how he caught it.

"He's worked so hard and he got himself in position to make a big-time catch," Harris said.

Two years ago, also against UCLA, Kodi Whitfield, in his days as a wide receiver, produced a highlight reel touchdown catch, grabbing a ball out of the air with one hand and retaining possession.

"We joke about who had the better catch," Owusu said. "Of course, I think mine was better."

Ben is back

Washington freshman linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, who helped Sacred Heart Prep win the Central Coast Section Open Division title a year ago, also had Stanford on his short list of potential schools and Shaw liked what he saw on film.

"I loved watching him play," Shaw said. "He went sideline to sideline and found a way to get to the ball carrier. He's a very good football player who plays hard on every single play. He reminds me of (Palo Alto grad) Kevin Anderson. I saw Kevin line up on one side of the field and make a play on the other side."

Unfortunately, Stanford could not offer Burr-Kirven, who has appeared in all six of the Huskies games thus far and has 11 tackles, including a sack. Former Gator Derek Hunter, who transferred to Washington from Georgetown, is also on the roster . He's listed as a redshirt sophomore tight end.

"It's always a numbers crunch," Shaw said. "T.J. Tarpley was the only inside linebacker we lost last year and we had four safeties."

Loving the lights

Shaw and Harris have different views of playing late games on Saturday (and one Thursday). Shaw is fine with a few, though with the exception of its season opener against Northwestern, the Cardinal has played seven straight at night.

"There are are a few positives in terms of preparation," Shaw said. "We don't have to rush first thing in the morning. We can do a walk through. We recruit nationally, so its tough on the eat coast kids, and alumni as well. Players have a hard time trying to get home by 2 a.m., wasting half of their Sundays as they walk around like zombies."

Harris prefers the all-night schedule.

"There's a comfort level getting used to playing at night," he said. "It gets us into a rhythm."

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