2020 NFL Draft

Browns DL Larry Ogunjobi shed weight, video games on unusual path to NFL

Larry Ogunjobi didn't think he'd be here, holding up a Browns jersey Saturday afternoon in front of a room full of people.

The former Charlotte defensive lineman and second-round draft pick smiled for photos after recounting a long and winding journey that watched him go from a self-described couch potato to one of Cleveland's first five picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.

"When you're younger, people talk about the NFL as something they want to do," he said. "Me, I was still on the couch eating potato chips and playing video games. That wasn't one of my dreams."

Ogunjobi, who started playing football his sophomore year of high school in Greensboro, North Carolina, is poised to compete for playing time on the Browns' new-look defensive line, which also added Texas A&M defensive end and first-overall pick Myles Garrett.

"I think he's going to be a tremendous football player for us," head coach Hue Jackson said.

Before any of this was possible, though, Ogunjobi had to be almost forced into playing football. The son of Nigerian parents who emigrated to Greensboro, North Carolina, Ogunjobi was an overweight, 350-pound sophomore in high school. His parents, Masa and Larry, confiscated his game system and made him workout with a fitness coach, who eventually insisted he play football.

"He took me to high school. I asked him what we were doing here. He said, 'Larry, you are going to play football,' and I said 'No, I'm not.' He was like, 'Yes, you are,' and I was like, 'No, I'm not,"" Ogunjobi said, laughing. "He got a permission slip from the lady at the front desk. He took it to my mom. My mom signed it and I was on the football field that Saturday."

A breakthrough of sorts came later that year when Ogunjobi received an award for the Most Improved Player on the junior varsity squad.

The Cleveland Browns draft Larry Ogunjobi at No. 65 in the 2017 NFL Draft.

"That seems like a small award," he said. "But you know, in retrospect, that was the first time in my life where I felt like I earned an award that I actually worked for. That's what kind of set the framework for everything that has happened up to this point."

Ogunjobi went on to become a four-year starter at UNC-Charlotte, where led the team in tackles for loss each season. A double major in computer science and biology, he made history this past weekend, becoming the first-ever player drafted from UNC-Charlotte, which launched its football program in 2013.

Now, he'll be part of a young Browns team that's building from the ground up.

"My mom always tells me a story that I was in front of a TV screen when I was like two, yelling, 'I want to play football.' It's crazy that now this is what I'm doing," Ogunjobi said. "When I got to Charlotte, I just had this chip on my shoulder that I wanted to be the best and I wanted to prove to everybody that it's not where you go; it is what you do there. You don't have to be a victim of your situation. You don't have to be put into this box that everybody says that, 'If you go to this school, you won't be able to do these things.'"

"It really wasn't about proving everybody else wrong. It was about proving myself right and believing in myself," he continued. "When my body started transforming, I started becoming a better player and realizing that this goal was attainable. I just knew that if I was the best and if I worked at it, then the NFL would be something that would have to come, and it did."

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