(Ebenezer Ogundeko was a First-Team All-OVC defensive lineman in both 2016 and 2017. He is projected by many to be a Day Three pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Recently, Underdog Dynasty’s Jonathan Willis caught up with Ogundeko and asked him about some of his experiences at Tennessee State.)
I saw from your 247 profile that you went to high school in Brooklyn. What was it like growing up in New York City?
It was a great experience. You get to have different tastes from all five boroughs of New York City.
I was also trying to show that New York City has talent in football. It’s not just a basketball state, we can do different sports as well. It was pretty good.
I have to ask. Ogundeko, that’s a Nigerian name, right? I have a good friend that is Nigerian, and he would kill me if I didn’t ask about it.
Yeah, it’s a Nigerian name.
Is your family from there?
Yeah, both of my parents are from there.
Have you ever been to Nigeria?
No, I’ve never been to Nigeria. It’s something I look forward to doing though.
When did you first start playing football? When did you realize that you were good enough to play football at the next level?
I started playing at the age of nine, and I feel like I was good enough to play at the next level when I first started playing.
Did you have any specific moment that just stood out where you knew you were better than everybody else?
I had more length than everybody else. I was able to reach out and do other things. Things that other kids I was playing against couldn’t do.
What was it like going from Clemson to Tennessee State?
It was a rough experience at first. The fact that I was going from a big program like Clemson to a smaller school like Tennessee State. After I got used to it, it was a humbling experience. I got the opportunity to play football again. I feel like I had a good opportunity to showcase my talent and play against some of the good players in the OVC.
Your team was one of a handful of FCS teams to knock off an FBS team, and you did it with a great defensive effort in that 17-10 win against Georgia State. Were you guys confident coming into the game, and what was the feeling like after the game in the locker room?
Yeah, we were really confident going into that game. We had a lot of confidence in our team and the talent that we had. We had guys like Treon Harris from UF and we had two offensive tackles that played in the SEC as well. We had a bunch of players that had transferred from big-time programs that played on our team. We felt like if we could just give that confidence to our other players, we could beat a big-time program. If we just played as a team, we figured we were going to be able to beat them.
You guys had a 3-0 start, but then had some pretty tough losses in conference play. Were any of those losses particularly tough?
Yeah, the loss to UT-Martin is always tough, because they’re in our state. They are one of our rivals. We also lost to Austin Peay. Austin Peay was a team we shouldn’t have lost to, but they were good this year though. They had a real good team this year.
How was the experience at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl? What were the practices leading up to the game like? How did it feel to get some hands-on coaching from some NFL guys?
It was a great experience. Most of the guys that were coaching, they played in the NFL. They’re like high school coaches currently. It was a great experience being able to be coached by a lot of those guys. Playing with those great players from different programs and being showcased. I felt like it was real good competition.
I couldn’t find this anywhere on the website. Is Tennessee State going to have a Pro Day? When is it?
Yeah, the Pro Day will be on March 12.
Have any NFL teams already contacted you or your agent?
Nah, not really. I just really focused more on the scouts, stuff like that, at the NFLPA Game.
Where do you see yourself fitting in at the NFL level?
I see myself eventually being the captain of somebody’s team. But just starting off, I feel like I can definitely make a 53-man roster my rookie year. I can play a lot of special teams, rush the passer. Playing at defensive end and rushing the passer.
What do you like to do in your spare time? When you’re not playing football?
I like to work out. I like to relax and try to get my body right. Watch TV, play video games as well. Just watch football highlights really.
What’s your favorite video game right now?
I like to play Call of Duty, the newest one.