The Cleveland Browns selected Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi in the third round of this spring's NFL Draft. This is what he looks like.
Ogunjobi didn't always look like a chiseled Greek god. In fact, he spent most of his youth as an amorphous blob.
“He’d sit down, eat strawberry Pop-Tarts and just play games all day, all night,” Ogunjobi's mother Mercy told the Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram. “He started packing weight.”
Young Larry climbed to 350 pounds as a high school sophomore, drifting through life to the point where his parents feared he would eat himself to an early death.
And then fate intervened.
The Ogunjobis visited a Greensboro, N.C., park, where the family met fitness coach Robert Mitchell.
“He said, ‘You’re going to play football.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ He said, ‘Yes, you are,’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not,’” Ogunjobi told the paper. “He got the permission slip from the lady at the front desk (at school), and took it to my mom and my mom signed it and I was on the football field that next Saturday.”
Ogunjobi was too large to get into a 3-point stance for most of his first season, but he kept playing and kept working out. Winning a Most Improved Player award on his JV team spurred him, the first time, Ogunjobi said, he received an award he'd earned himself.
Soon Ogunjobi was going through his own workout after his high school team's workout. He started running half a mile and biking five, and worked up to running four miles and biking 15. He eventually dropped from 350 pounds to 237 -- nearly a third of his original body weight -- before bulking up to 267 pounds upon securing a scholarship to fledgling Charlotte and now 305 pounds of offensive coordinator's nightmare as a Brown.
"I’m really proud of Larry and how he handled himself in all aspects of his collegiate career – athletically, academically, as a team leader and cornerstone. He worked extremely hard to make himself a really strong player. I’m proud of all he’s done as a 49er," Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert said of Ogunjobi. He appeared in 46 of 46 possible games at Charlotte and became the first 49er ever drafted.
Ogunjobi has goals beyond football. He's read the Bible cover-to-cover multiple times, double majored in computer science and biology, and aspires to become a doctor after his football career ends.
How much of that would have been possible without a life-changing -- and life-saving -- intervention by a youth strength coach?