As one of the first members of the UNC-Charlotte football program, Larry Ogunjobi didn't face too much competition as he rose the ranks to become an immediate starter.
Needless to say, it's been a much different experience in the NFL on a Browns team that is loaded with depth on the defensive line, but that's the way Ogunjobi prefers it. And, well, he's risen to the challenge.
Following a game in which he logged significant snaps with the first-team defense, the third-round rookie sat down with ClevelandBrowns.com as he eyed his final preseason game.
CB.com: You're nearing the end of your first preseason with the Browns. How would you assess how you've done so far?
Ogunjobi: I'm enjoying it. I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm making the most of my opportunity to try to get better each and every day. Coach (Gregg) Williams and Coach (Hue) Jackson are training me and teaching me things I didn't learn in college. I'm just becoming a better football player each and every day.
CB.com: Going back to the start of training camp, what's something in your game they identified as an area you really needed to improve?
Ogunjobi: I'm an over-thinker. I like to analyze stuff a lot. It really just got to the point where I'm just going and getting off the ball and just trying to be as disruptive as possible. They were like 'you just think too much' and I had to cut that out. It's the difference between being instinctive and being robotic and they needed me more instinctive, so that's what I did.
CB.com: What do you attribute being an over-thinker to?
Ogunjobi: Just being a smart guy. I was into computer science and biology in school. I'm very analytical. That's how I was raised so I just like to think and break things down. In football, sometimes you've just got to go and be a football player.
CB.com: When did it click on the field?
Ogunjobi: Right before we started playing the Saints, that last week of the grind. I started seeing the transition, I started seeing flashes of things I was working on. It just kept building each and every day.
CB.com: Going back to the Senior Bowl, you got to know the Browns coaches as you prepared for the draft. Did you envision yourself ever coming to Cleveland?
Ogunjobi: To play with the Browns? Not at all. They were probably the last team I felt was going to draft me because I didn't know they'd switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3. I'm more of a 4-3 type of guy. I was shocked but I was happy. My mom told me God wants you to do something special and I believe her.
CB.com: What's it been like working with a former pro like Clyde Simmons?
Ogunjobi: Great. Coach Simmons is a very chill guy. He knows how to talk to you because he was a player. He knows how we feel, he knows what we've been through because he's done it. He just does a really good job of talking to us and teaching us the things we need to work on.
The Cleveland Browns draft Larry Ogunjobi at No. 65 in the 2017 NFL Draft.
CB.com: What have you learned from the guys around you in the defensive line room?
Ogunjobi: There's a lot of talent in the room and it can only go up. We just have to continue to build each other up and keep raising the bar and keep repeating it each and every day.
CB.com: At Charlotte, you were able to play right away and make an impact. What was it like in the initial stages working your way up from the bottom?
Ogunjobi: It's humbling but my favorite verse in Matthew is for those who humble themselves will be exalted and those who exalt themselves will be humbled. There's a time where God has to teach you certain things and in order to be a great leader, you have to be a great follower. I had to come in and learn how to get better, how to do the things I had to do. I'm still learning and I'm still getting better. I'm not where I want to be yet but I know I'm on the right path.
CB.com: What does this defense ask of a guy at your position?
Ogunjobi: Be disruptive and make plays. Get up the field and just wreak havoc.
CB.com: What are the different spots you're learning?
Ogunjobi: Three-technique and nose. It really just depends. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it at full speed.
CB.com: You're the latest member of this rookie class to work yourself into a prominent spot on the depth chart. What's it been like to see this group emerge?
Ogunjobi: It's good just because I think that's the reason we were drafted here. This is a very young team and I feel like the talent is through the roof right now. That's good because the rookies we have and the guys who are already here are starting to mesh and become a brotherhood and understand the biggest thing and most important thing is winning.
CB.com: You were running sprints by yourself after Tuesday's practice. What kind of shape are you trying to put yourself in?
Ogunjobi: I'm just trying to be the hardest worker I can be. I'm trying to be the best player I can be. Every day I find things I can work on, I work on my stance, my starts, my sprints, just extra because in the long run it will pay dividends.
CB.com: You've got a connection with Cincinnati DL Geno Atkins. What's it been like to have someone like that in the NFL help you out?
Ogunjobi: I trained with Geno in Atlanta so he's been a really good mentor to me, telling me things like what I need to work on. He texted me after the Giants game and stuff like that. He's really been a big brother to me. He called me a couple days ago just to check in. It's good to have somebody of that caliber be able to help you out.
CB.com: What's the best piece of advice he's given you?
Ogunjobi: He said don't be mesmerized. There's going to be times when you line up against Pro Bowlers and guys you read about in college. You can't be mesmerized. When it's your time, it's your time. Whoever it is in front of you, just make sure you go full speed. They've got to feel you.
CB.com: How's the family reacted to what you've done so far?
Ogunjobi: They're excited. They're sending me support, text messages, they're praying for me, all those things. They're watching whenever we're on TV. They always check in to see how I did. They've been really supportive and it's always good to have a good support system.
CB.com: What are you trying to get out of this last preseason game?
Ogunjobi: Just be the best I can be. Go out there and continue to get better and be better than I was last game.