With the combine just days away, defensive line prospect Larry Ogunjobi took time out of his busy training schedule to speak with us. The former Charlotte 49er leaves the program for the NFL with an impressive 29.0 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks to his name. Among other topics discussed, Ogunjobi spoke about his mindset entering the combine, disputing the notion that football players are “dumb,” and more. Enjoy.
We’re here with Charlotte DT Larry Ogunjobi. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Larry. With the combine just days away, how have you been preparing?
Ogunjobi: I’m trying to excel at everything, I’m just out here working hard, trying to perfect my craft.
Is there a drill in particular that you’re expecting to perform especially well in?
Ogunjobi: The plan is to really just do well at all of them. I want people to see how I move, how my body works and how I attack every drill at full speed. I’m going to bring my full speed to the drills and really just focus on my craft. I want to show off how hard I’ve been working. I’m the kind of person who wants my hard work to speak for itself. I don’t really like talking about things before they happen. I’m just gonna’ go out there and do my best. God will take care of the rest.
Speaking of how Ogunjobi’s body works, he can be seen here doing a nice job shedding the block and making the tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Is there a drill that you’re least looking forward to?
Ogunjobi: Not really. Every drill is an opportunity to showcase yourself and if you have any self-doubt, or if you feel as if you’re not going to do so well in this drill, well then, you probably aren’t. I think that the man who says he can and the man who says he can’t are both right. I think that self-belief is very important. I’m just gonna’ go out there and do what I do.
I like you’re mental approach. In years past, we’ve heard reports regarding some strange questions a scout may ask a prospect in the interview room. How do you plan on answering some of those peculiar, non-football related questions?
Ogunjobi: I think that the best thing to do is to just be honest. I plan on being myself. I think that if you try and put on a show and try to fake it, they’re [teams and scouts] gonna’ see right through it. There’s no point in doing that. I think that if you’re honest with who you are and with your answers, if you answer truthfully, you’ll be fine. But if you go in there and try to come up with the best answer or what you think that they want to hear, that’s not being real. At the end of the day, whoever you are is gonna’ show up at some point. So if you’re fake now, and the person you try to show them during the interviews isn’t the person that you really are, then you’re gonna’ end up in a pretty difficult situation down the road regardless.
That’s a very good point. You’re the son of Nigerian immigrants, which gives you a pretty unique path up until this point. What has that taught you about hard work?
Ogunjobi: It’s taught me that talent can only take you so far. You have to be willing to put your nose down and get to work. Not everybody is gonna’ notice what you do, and not everybody is gonna’ see the work that you’re putting in behind the scenes, but that work has a purpose and it’s for a reason. It will all pay off if you just keep your head down and stay focused.
Spoken like someone who has worked hard to be in the position that he’s in. You graduated as a computer science major, and you’re hoping to apply to medical school one day. It’s clear that academics and life after football are important to you.
Ogunjobi: I majored in computer science and biology. I finished my computer science degree in December. I also plan on re-taking some bio classes at some point as well. School is very important and I feel like a lot of young athletes need to hear that. It’s not just about what you do on the field, but off the field as well. I feel like if you can find a way to be productive at both, you’ll be successful in everything that you do.
I guess I’m trying to dispute the stereotype that football players are dumb. Some of the stuff that we go through in the team meetings, we do analytics, we do breakdowns, we do statistics; there’s so many things that go into this game. We’re not just out there running and hitting each other in the head. This is a complex and intricate game. We do scouting reports, game breakdowns, film studies – there’s so many aspects to this game and I believe that if you’re a good student in the classroom, it’ll all correlate in the film room as well. If you’re good at taking notes in the classroom, you’re going to be successful in the film room. It’ll all translate when you’re scouting your opponents. I watch offensive linemen game tape, what’s his skill-set, what does he do in his zone reads, inside vs outside zone, just different things like that. It all comes together nicely.
I think that teams are going to love your intelligence and approach off the field. You were part of Charlotte’s first ever recruiting class, which made you part of the team that made the jump from the FCS to the FBS. I imagine that being difficult.
Ogunjobi: It wasn’t too bad. I think that’s why we play this game. It enhanced our competition and allowed us to compete against what is known as the best players in the country. That makes you want to go out there and show that you’re just as good, if not better than them. The opportunity to go out there and showcase yourself and just compete, I think that’s great. It was a lot fun for me personally. I feel like I did the same things in the FBS that I was doing in the FCS, and I think that people wanted to see if I was capable of that. For some people, when the competition goes up, so does their play. Sometimes you gotta’ go out there and make the most out of every opportunity. It’s not always about proving others wrong, but proving yourself right and if you believe in yourself enough to understand that, then I think you’ll be able to take care of yourself.
That’s a good way to look at it. I feel like I know who your answer is going to be, but who’s the best player you played against once you made the jump to the FBS?
Ogunjobi: Probably Lamar Jackson.
Yeah, that’s what I expected.
Ogujnobi: He’s a special player. He’s really fast, and overall he just possesses a lot of talent.
Ogunjobi remembers Lamar Jackson well, but I bet Jackson was thrilled to be out of the game at this point when Ogunjobi absolutely leveled backup QB Kyle Bolin.
In closing, why should a team draft Larry Ogunjobi?
Ogunjobi: Because they’re going to get a hard working player who refuses to let anyone outwork him. Because I understand that football right now is from the neck up. Everybody’s fast, everybody’s strong and everybody’s talented, but who’s gonna’ be the smartest football player on the field, and who’s gonna’ use all of their tools and resources both on and off the field to help their teammates win games? I want to help my team get to the playoffs and to the Super Bowl, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get better. That’s the type of work ethic I bring to a locker room – hard work, dedication and a will to win by any means. In closing, I have to thank God for where I am today. Without him, none of this would be possible.