By Cameron Lee
April 26, 2017
The Charlotte 49ers football program is only four-years-old, and despite going through the struggles that many upstart sports program go through, the 49ers will have their first NFL draft selected player this year. Scroll through several NFL mock drafts and you’ll see defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi from Charlotte between rounds two and three on most draft experts lists.
Curious about how the explosive 305-pound defensive tackle from Greensboro ended up at UNCC, we reached out to ask him some questions. What we found out was pretty remarkable.
Having Nigerian parents and growing up in the states, how did you first get into playing football?
A lot of people know this story, but I was 350 pounds in High School and my parents said I was getting too fat. They took away the gaming systems and got me a coach. His name was Robert Mitchell, and he trained me for a little bit and got my weight down to about 330-pounds. One day, we were in the car and he took me to the high school. I asked him what we were doing, and he said, “You’re going to play football,” and I said “No I’m not,” he said, “Yes you are,” and after a five minute exchange, he got the permission slip from the lady at the front desk, took it to my mom to sign it and I was on the football field that Saturday. I couldn’t get through the first workout and my coaches came up to me the next day and said, “Larry, we just wanna make sure you’re still here,” I said “yeah, coach I’m still here.” In my head I was like, I’m only here because I have to be. Going through that season I ended up receiving Most Improved JV Player, which seems like a small award but it was the first time in my life I felt like I got something that I actually worked for. It made me realize that football was something that I could really do. After I saw other upperclassmen getting recruited, I asked my coach what I needed to do, and he said, “You have to get faster, stronger, and perfect your technique.” So that’s what I did, everyday after practice.
As a North Carolinian, what was the deciding factor in choosing the upstart football program at UNCC?
Charlotte was my first offer, among a few others. I prayed about it, and I just felt good about Charlotte. Like it was the place God wanted me to be. So I trusted him and made the decision.
How does it feel to be the first UNCC player at the NFL Draft Combine and what was that process like?
It was an amazing experience, there’s something about being the first. No one can ever take that away from you. Kids of future generations will look to you as the person to try and beat. It’s a humbling feeling really, and it puts things into perspective. Makes you realize it’s way bigger than just you.
My motto is attitude and effort; Control what you can control and be the best you can be. The combine is really just to see how mentally tough you are. The right attitude made everything smooth.
Which teams do you think have shown the most interest?
Uhh, I don’t know really, but I know how this process goes. I hear a lot of times teams that never talk to you are the ones that end up drafting you. It’s kinda like poker, no one wants to show their hand.
Did you have a favorite football team growing up?
Always liked the Steelers, their defense has always been stout.
What will you miss the most about UNCC and Charlotte?
The city, its almost like I’ve seen it grow from the ground up. It’s amazing all the things that are coming to Charlotte and just how fast it’s growing. It’s truly turning into something special.
What will you be doing on draft day?
I’ll be with my family and friends in Greensboro.
The 2017 NFL Draft kicks-off Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. EST in Philadelphia, PA.
Check out some of Larry Ogunjobi’s college highlights: