The NBA All-Star Weekend brought a ton of premier athletes and star-studded celebrities to the Queen City, but it also brought a former Charlotte 49er back home. Larry Ogunjobi stopped by Jerry Richardson Stadium on Friday, Feb. 15 to sign autographs and converse with his 49er family. Ogunjobi played football at Charlotte for four years before being drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 65th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Ogunjobi reflects on his life in the NFL, compared to his time at Charlotte.
“I’d probably say the lifestyle, just the difference in having all that free time to really focus and master your craft rather than you going to class [where] you’re doing this and doing that. When you’re in the NFL, football is your job [that] you do almost 24/7/365, so I think the biggest thing would be the lifestyle,” said Ogunjobi.
Balancing football and school is a task for any collegiate athlete, but Ogunjobi managed to excel in athletics and academically. He was First Team All-Conference USA in 2016, and Second Team All-Conference USA in 2015. Ogunjobi ended his illustrious career at Charlotte with 217 total tackles, 49 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 33 fumble recoveries and he started all 46 games he’s played in. He’s currently the program’s all-time leader in tackles for loss and sacks and previously held the title for tackles as well, but has since moved to fourth all-time, having been passed by Karrington King, Ben DeLuca and Jeff Gemmell.
Ogunjobi wasn’t solely a force on defense, he was a force in the classroom as well. He was named to the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Athletic Director’s List and Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Ogunjobi graduated December 2016 with a degree in computer science, and while he considered medical school, the NFL seemed to be his destiny as he was the first player from the Charlotte 49er football program to be drafted into the league.
Ogunjobi hasn’t played for Charlotte since the team’s 2016 season, so it’s been quite a while since he ran onto McColl–Richardson Field and heard the “Pride of Niner Nation” marching band blare the Charlotte 49er fight song. Ogunjobi may no longer attend Charlotte, but he hasn’t forgotten the relationships he made when he was here.
“I’d say the people, I have a lot of friends and family here, they helped me a lot throughout my college career. So I think that’s the biggest thing, just being far away from home,” said Ogunjobi. “It’s a little different, but I have the guys come up to Cleveland every now and then so it’s always good to keep in contact with everybody.”
According to the Cleveland Browns official website, in 30 games Ogunjobi has accumlated 80 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and one forced fumble so far in his two-year career with the team. His performance thus far dignifies why he sees himself as one of the top players at his position.
“One of the top defensive tackles, so that’s pretty much the goal right now,” said Ogunjobi.
Training camp doesn’t start for months, so Ogunjobi doesn’t have to report to the Browns for a while. Nonetheless, there isn’t any doubt that Ogunjobi is training and working daily because he is, and always will be, a 49er.
The previous version of this story stated that Larry Ogunjobi is currently the all-time leader in tackles and has been corrected to state that he is now fourth all-time behind Karrington King, Ben DeLuca and Jeff Gemmell.