Ojuri’s Path to the Draft

STOCK PHOTO | THE SPECTRUM Former NDSU runningback Sam Ojuri is chasing his NFL dream. Ojuri was back in Fargo Wednesday for his pro day.
Former NDSU runningback Sam Ojuri is chasing his NFL dream. Ojuri was back in Fargo Wednesday for his pro day.

“You don’t stay hungry by sleeping in silk sheets.”

This sentence defined in two words would be: complacency kills. Former NDSU running back Sam Ojuri is one of many hope­fuls who are looking to hear their name called on the sec­ond weekend of May and Ojuri is anything but com­placent.

Growing up an hour outside of Chicago in Bar­rington, Ill., Ojuri has want­ed to be a professional ath­lete long before fans heard his name. Ojuri and his fam­ily moved out of the rough streets of Chicago when he was about four years old and he bounced around until the eighth grade. That was when he was put into the Bar­rington school system.

Ojuri says that moving to Barrington “was the best move my parents could have done for me. That put me in a great position to excel as a student and an athlete.”

Ojuri is looking to get drafted as a running back; however, he did not start carrying the rock until his sophomore year in high school.

“My junior year, they tried me out as a receiver but I never really got the ball, so whenever I did get an opportunity, I knew I had to take it to the house,” Ojuri said. “I think I averaged 11 yards a carry when they fi­nally moved me back to run­ning back halfway through the year. I guess I was a late bloomer.”

After great junior and senior years, Ojuri took a scholarship at NDSU where he had an illustrious career. Ojuri was a key cog in a team that won three straight FCS national champion­ships from 2011-2013. He ran for 1,000 yards in each of the championship sea­sons, despite never receiv­ing 24 carries more than the second-featured back in NDSU’s two-back system. He finished fourth in career rushing yards in NDSU his­tory.

Looking at his creden­tials, he should be consid­ered as a high draft pick. However, because of play­ing in an FCS system and splitting carries, Ojuri is an underdog heading into the draft. Don’t fear though, because he loves it. He em­braces it.

“I’m in the process of making a name for myself… but my numbers are right up there with (other collegiate running back prospects,)” Ojuri said. “Chasing my lifelong dream ever since I was nine or 10, I’ve always envisioned this in my mind and achieving these goals is my biggest motivation, so I’ll be the underdog… I al­ways gotta stay hungry.”

After winning his third straight FCS championship, Ojuri left the flat lands and high winds of Fargo to head to the beautiful snowcapped mountains of Denver to train for the upcoming NFL Draft. He trained for eight straight weeks, working six or more hours a day, going four days a week. Ojuri trained as hard as he did because he knows he has to separate himself from other backs and distin­guish himself heading into the draft.

“Everyone can make plays, but I can make plays in different ways,” he said. “I can make plays in spe­cial teams, I can run, catch the ball and I can block for the quarterback. I am a three down back.”

Most athletes cannot wait to get their first pay­check, but Ojuri cannot wait to get his 20th.

“I’m not really into the first check, I’m thinking about working hard to get that second contract,” Ojuri said. “Down the road with that money, I want to open up a rec center and a Sickle Cell foundation. Kids need that role model and place to get better at what they like. Having someone to look up to, that’s big.”

As for sickle cell, “My sister has sickle cell. That’s a plan of mine to get a foun­dation so they know that there is support.”

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