MOBILE, Ala. — While many high school recruits are motivated to accept scholarships to established universities with promises of early playing time, Larry Ogunjobi went completely against the grain with his decision to commit to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Charlotte’s football program commenced in 2013 and like all 2012 commitments, Ogunjobi took a redshirt season to train in preparation for the inaugural season. Not afraid of the hard work ahead to establish the program, Ogunjobi was drawn to that aspect of his decision to play for the 49ers.
“It was a combination of things,” he said. “First of all, I prayed about it; my faith is real strong. God let me feel like it was the right choice for me. As far as making my decision, it was an opportunity to be the first. To come into a program and lay the foundation; to be the example rather than having to look up to one. I just took the opportunity in stride and really tried to make the most of it.”
After starting each of the first 46 games in school history and being the only 49er to accomplish that feat, there’s no question that Ogunjobi relished his chance to set the precedent for future 49ers football players. Culminating with 1st-Team All-Conference USA honors in 2016, Ogunjobi was a highly productive player throughout his career totaling 217 tackles, 49 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and 33 quarterback hurries.
Here's a taste of what Charlotte DL Larry Ogunjobi offers. Nice frame combined w/both a power & quickness element. Performed well @ Sr Bowl pic.twitter.com/pxO3xwulaz
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) January 27, 2017
As one would expect, the number 49 is special to the program and Ogunjobi was selected to wear the honorary number 49 jersey in Charlotte’s inaugural game against Campbell — a testament to the hard work and commitment invested by Ogunjobi to the team as it went an entire season without even having a football game to prepare for. It comes as no surprise that Ogunjobi believes his work ethic is among the top qualities he offers a NFL franchise.
“(I’m) a hard worker. Somebody that understands that he has a lot to learn, (has) a high ceiling and just wants to come out there and play and try to make the most of it and take advantage of the opportunity and understands that nothing is promised so you can’t waste it. (I’m going to) come out there, work really hard, learn the game, the ins and outs, learn from the vets and try to make a mark.
“My goal is to be the best. I’m trying to prove it to myself that all my hard work is going to really pay off. The NFL is a product of that.”
Graduating with a double-major in biology and computer science, Ogunjobi is a three-time Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll honoree. Understanding the importance of intelligence, Ogunjobi compliments his NFL-caliber on field abilities with success in the classroom.
“I’m trying to get stronger, faster, perfect my technique and learn the game from the neck up. I understand that at this level everybody is going to be fast, strong and talented but you (have) to be smarter. You have to be more educated. You’ve got to go about your business in a different type of way.”
Continuing his trend of “firsts”, Ogunjobi is the first ever Charlotte football player to be invited to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. In typical Ogunjobi fashion, he is performing at a high level in the Senior Bowl practices and is among the overall standouts.
Having observed him over the course of the week, Ogunjobi is winning one-on-one drills with a blend of quickness and power. His effort is consistently outstanding and is one of the quickest and most fluid movers for his position group. There is a collective buzz about the way he has looked in practice and the manner in which he has conducted himself with team and media interviews in Mobile.
Ogunjobi’s resume is littered with firsts, but he has one more monumental first the check off his list — become the first Charlotte 49er to be selected in the NFL Draft.
With the way he’s performed at the Senior Bowl combined with his accomplishments in building the Charlotte program, the question isn’t if he will get drafted, but how high in the draft will he ultimately get selected.