Walsh University inducted former running back Derek Besgrove (Clay), six individuals and two championship teams were inducted into the school’s Athletic Wall of Fame Friday night at a banquet and on Saturday at halftime of the homecoming football game against Tiffin University at Fawcett Stadium.
Besgrove, who stood 6-foot-2, 214 pounds during his playing days, was at Walsh from 2000-03. He carried the football to the Walsh and NAIA record books in a sensational four-year career.
Besgrove earned first-team All-Mid-States Football Association accolades and NAIA-All-American honors all four years and finished his career as the NAIA’s all-time rushing leader with 5,738 yards, a record that still stands today. He earned first-team All-American honors as a senior and second-team as a junior.
Besgrove rushed for over 1,000 yards three times and gained 1,288 yards as a freshman, 990 yards as a sophomore (despite being injured), 1,679 as a junior and 1,781 as a senior. He is the Cavs’ all-time leader in career touchdowns (71), points (424), rushing average (5.1) and is the single season leader in touchdowns (22), points (132) and yards gained (1,871).
Walsh’s 2001 team won their only MSFA championship with an 8-3 overall mark and 5-1 conference record. Walsh won 30 games in Besgrove’s four years.
The spring before his senior season, simply as a matter of working on his speed and staying in top condition, Besgrove joined the track team. He was named top performer at the league track meet, winning the 200 meter dash, finishing second in the 100 meters with a 10.86, and running on the winning 400 meter Walsh relay team.
Jim Clark, then and still the Walsh Sports Information Director, in 2003 promised, “Derek is an all-around outstanding kid, you couldn’t ask anymore from a person. The football program is only eight years old here, and some of the football players are now becoming eligible for the Walsh Wall of Fame. As soon as Derek is eligible, he will be on that wall.”
Clark’s promise is coming true, and right on time.
Besgrove had the good fortune of playing with several teammates from the Toledo area; including former Waite star, junior Daryl Lyons, a 2002 NAIA second team All-American at defensive back and kickoff returner, former Start wide receiver Brandon Carter, and Clay teammate Anthony Katschke.
Besgrove, a tailback who combined speed and power, came to Walsh knowing that he would be a good fit with the football program because head coach Jim Dennison ran a classic I-formation power running attack.
Besgrove, who reportedly had never been caught from behind in the open field, had at least six touchdowns covering over 60 yards and three for over 80 yards his senior year.
A dedicated year-round athlete, Besgrove was highly recruited coming out of Clay, but the interested NCAA Division I colleges all wanted Derek to concentrate on defense.
“I chose Walsh because I wanted to stay on offense. After I began doing well at Walsh, Division I teams were contacting my father about me transferring, but I decided to stay at Walsh because they gave me a chance to play at the position I wanted to play,” Besgrove explained to The Press during his playing days.
Since his playing days at Walsh, he’s helped out with coaching football at Northwood and his father, Jim Besgrove, is still an assistant for Coach Ken James today. ( — from a Press file story by P.J. Whitman).