Shelby Osborne, standing at 5’ 6” and weighing 140lbs, is making football history this year by becoming the first female defensive back in collegiate history. She is going to be the second female non-specialist position player in collegiate history, as there have been several female placekickers.
The senior in high school will be playing at Campbellsville University in Kentucky next fall. This small university is a member of the NAIA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes, an association similar to the NCAA. Campbellsville plays teams that would compare to upper-level Division III and mid-level Division II NCAA teams.
Osborne signed a letter of intent with Campbellsville in early June. According to SBnation.com, the new defensive back had played a full year of football serving as the Junior Varsity captain and played five games for the varsity football team at Jeffersonville High School in Indiana.
Campbellsville reached out after Osborne filed numerous recruiting questionnaires, and after a visit to a scrimmage she decided to take her chance and sign with the school.
Chris Megginson, the Sports Information Director at Campbellsville University was one of the first to reach out to the newest recruit. He said he became a filter for her from the media.
He made it his priority to help her ward off media attention so she could have a regular first year of college experience.
“We tried to not adjust her schedule for her summer workouts with her team, leaving the process up to her,” Megginson said. “We did not want to pursue media attention.”
Megginson said both he and the university, “wanted to give a kid a chance to pursue their dream of playing college football.”
He said the first-year defensive back and other late additions to the team have yet to play due to a series of paperwork that is currently underway which will allow the first female defensive back to be able to play soon.
There has been some controversy and backlash over letting her play. Some critics claim she is too small, at 5’ 6,” to cover a 6’ 2” wide receiver with an extra 80 pounds on her. While her impact on football is not as acclaimed as Pee Wee football and YouTube sensation Sam Gordon, her accomplishments and addition to history are motivating and inspiring nonetheless.