OREM — Brandon Ogletree has not given up on his dream to play in the NFL.
It’s a long shot. But almost two months after leaving San Diego and the Poinsettia Bowl, Ogletree is all in; he believes.
He didn't get invited to the NFL Combine like teammates Ziggy Ansah and Braden Brown, who will join Utes Joe Kruger and Star Lotulelei, SUU’s Brad Sorensen and Utah State's Will Davis and Kerwynn Williams in Indianapolis from Feb. 20-26, where executives from the NFL’s 32 teams will evaluate both their minds and their bodies.
Ogletree finds himself in the same category as NFL Combine un-invitee Ute Dave Kruger. They are guys who will have to prove themselves in other ways, most likely on pro day at their respective schools.
Ogletree is one of a dozen NFL hopefuls, including Ute Boo Anderson, who are meeting with ASAP fitness trainer Dave Stroshine in Orem every day. They are paying Stroshine to get them ready for lifts, shuttles and 40-yard dashes when NFL scouts come around during the next month or so.
“It’s a grind, but I think it’s going pretty well,” said Ogletree, who may actually have a couple of advantages working for him. First, BYU’s pro day isn’t until March 28, which gives him more time to enhance his lifts and times. Second, because of projected first-round pick Ansah, the pro day in Provo will draw some higher echelon scouts, player personnel directors and perhaps vice presidents of operations of some NFL franchises.
“I think that will be a big help, to be honest,” said Stroshine. “If he makes a good showing, he will have people who see it. He’ll have some GMs and head coaches there.”
Just before the dozen athletes began warmups one morning this week, I caught up with Ogletree and asked him what he’d tell an NFL decision maker if asked why they should give him a serious look.
“I’m just a football player. Obviously, I’m a little undersized for the position, but just look at the tapes. I make plays. I do my assignments and I do it with passion.”
The work with ASAP has helped and now Ogletree is more confident he will make an impression on pro day.
“Everything I’ve done has improved vastly,” said Ogletree. “My bench has gone up one to two reps every week. My times have become faster. Whatever he’s doing works. Everybody in the group has improved.”
Ogletree has knocked down his 40-yard dash time from 4.65 to where he believes he can run a 4.59 when the time comes. “That’s my goal.”
Stroshine says Ogletree is impressive, better than he thought he’d be for his size because he works so hard and he has a killer attitude.
“His heart is as big as he is,” said Stroshine. “He is as determined and as hard working as any athlete I’ve worked with. I have no doubt he will get a shot and make the most of it."
Stroshine sets goals for these guys to test in the top five for their position. “I don’t care where they start, the goal is when they finish here and go to the combine or their pro day, they test in the top five in everything.”
“At 235 pounds, Ogletree is front squatting 404 pounds for five. His strength is taking off. He is doing 25 reps of 225 right now and I think he can get to 28 by pro day. I’m excited about him. He ran a 4.1 in the shuttle the other day on the FieldTurf, which is what he’ll run on pro day,” said the trainer.
The others training with Ogletree are from San Jose State, Washington State, BYU, Utah, Wyoming and Arizona. “We’ve got 11 bodies, plus we just got Utah’s Anderson, who is just coming off an ACL and we’re trying to get him ready.”
I asked Stroshine, since this is his business, what he’s heard about Ansah and how he might do at the combine. Stroshine only knows what he’s heard, that Ziggy is an athletic freak and could blow up some numbers in Indianapolis.
“I’ve heard he’s the type of athlete, with his size, that is going to run extremely well. The guys I’ve heard talking say he will run the forty in the 4.5s.”
At 270 pounds, that is insane. I don’t buy it.
But back in the day when Ziggy didn’t know how to put on a pair of shoulder pads, who’d have thought people would have him going in the first round?
We shall see.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.