In the grand scheme of things, Aaron O’Gorman’s touchdown in Saturday’s Gustavus Adolphus football game did not have much to do with the outcome.
Sure, it was the game’s first score on the Gusties’ opening possession but, considering the home team went on to defeat St. Olaf 45-19, it did not have a major impact. On a personal level, however, the touchdown could not have been bigger.
Aaron O’Gorman is a St. Peter native who turned out to be a pretty good high school running back. Good enough to earn All-South Central Conference honors and garner some interest from a few small colleges throughout the state. By the middle of his senior year, however, a lot of the interest had waned except for Peter Haugen, the head coach at Gustavus.
“They kept talking to me and, since I still wanted to play football, it seemed like the best place to go.”
O’Gorman, all 5-foot-7, 230 pounds of him, showed up for the first day of practice in the fall of 2010 and proceeded to get his kiester handed to him for two straight season. He was usually on the scout team during practice which means he regularly got hammered by the Gusties’ first-string defense as he tried to emulate opposing running backs.
“When they put out the first depth chart my freshman year I was the very last running back on the list,” O’Gorman said. “It was discouraging but, the way I looked at it, it just meant I had a lot of work to do.
“There were certainly times those first two years when I was getting pounded in practice that I wondered if it was really worth it. But every time I thought about it I just couldn’t imagine not playing football. I had too many friends on the team to give it up.”
O’Gorman had risen to No. 2 on the depth chart by his junior year and that’s where he remains today.
He’s turned a lot of his excess freshman weight into muscle and now stands 5-7, 225. He plays a little at running back when starter Jeffrey Dubose needs a break but otherwise is mostly a special teams guy.
That’s why Saturday’s touchdown was so special. It was the first of O’Gorman’s collegiate career.
“The only reason I got in was because Jeffrey’s helmet came off and he had to go to the sideline,” O’Gorman said. “After my first play I looked over, expecting Jeffrey to come back out, but he didn’t. Then we huddled up and they called my number.
“I thought, ‘Oh boy, here we go.’ I found a seam on the left side of the line and just ran to the end zone.”
Officially, it was a 10-yard touchdown by O’Gorman. Unofficially, it was the payoff for three years of blood and sweat equity left on the practice field. Today, all those years of being a tackling dummy seem worth it.
“I know I made the right choice,” he said. “There are memories here you can’t replace. I know if I would have walked away I would have regretted it.”
Jim Rueda is The Free Press sports editor. To contact him call 507-344-6381 or email him at email@example.com