How Amen Ogbongbemiga is key to historic OSU showing in NFL Draft

If OSU linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga hears his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft after four of his Cowboy teammates, it would represent a generational mark for the OSU football program. Five Cowboys have not gone in the NFL Draft in a single year since 1985.

It’s widely expected that offensive lineman Teven Jenkins, wide receiver Tylan Wallace, and running back Chuba Hubbard will go in the NFL Draft’s first three rounds. Cornerback Rodarius Williams should go in the fourth or fifth round, too, most analysts agree. If these draft picks indeed happen, a historic mark for the OSU football program could be surpassed at the end of this April.

OSU linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga hopes to become part of a five-member Cowboy NFL Draft class this spring, marking a school first since 1985.

Five Cowboys marks a high in the modern era of the NFL Draft (since the first Super Bowl in 1967). In fact, four times in that span has five OSU players been drafted — 1967, 1974,1984, and 1985. Seven Cowboys went in the 1950 NFL Draft, though there could be as many as 30 rounds then, as opposed to just seven rounds today.

Four OSU players have gone in the NFL Draft twice in the past couple decades, including 2018 and 2010. Wide receiver James Washington, quarterback Mason Randolph, defensive back Tre Flowers, and wide receiver Marcell Ateman were selected in the seven rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. This represents a significant uptick from the five years before, from 2013 to 2017, in which only one or two OSU players were drafted each spring.

Oddly enough, the 2020 NFL Draft marked the first time since 2008 that no OSU players were selected on draft day.

Having a banner year of five drafted NFL players would be a significant mark for OSU football. It’s a high mark of the program that coaches can sell to high school athletes and their families while out on the recruiting trail, as it demonstrates that Stillwater is a more-than-viable route to the pro ranks for multiple positions.

Ogbongbemiga was a standout at the linebacker position during his five years as a Cowboy. After redshirting during the 2016 season, he grew into a starring role by the time he became a junior in 2019.

The Calgary, Alberta product was a second-team All-Big 12 performer from each of the past two seasons. He finished the 2019 season with 100 tackles and finished 2020 with 80 tackles, ranking as the fifth-leading tackler in the conference.

Just as importantly, Ogbongbemiga emerged as a leader of a defense that drastically improved over the past two seasons in yards allowed and points allowed — like allowing opponents only 23.5 points during the 2020 season. OSU came to rely on its defense often to get key stops or to force turnovers while the offense sputtered at times.

He’s held pre-draft meetings with at least seven teams, including the Los Angeles Rams. As a native of Nigeria, Ogbongbemiga hopes to join 10 of his fellow countrymen in today’s NFL, including David Onyemata of the Saints and Emmanuel Ogbah of the Raiders (and previously, of OSU).

OSU football fans hope that a five-member draft class for the first time in 36 years including Ogbongbemiga will show that the program continues to improve and progress.