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Brandon Ogletree Sets His Sights on the NFL

13 February 2013 Brett Richins 12 Comments

BYU inside linebacker Brandon Ogletree (No. 44) celebrates a tackle at Notre Dame. (BYU photo)

Former BYU buck linebacker Brandon Ogletree is looking to buck the odds and make a living by playing in the National Football League.

He’s currently preparing for BYU’s Pro Day in March, the final opportunity he may have to leave an impression before the draft.

Ogletree has led Bronco Mendenhall’s defense in tackles in each of the last two seasons. In 2012, he recorded 102 tackles playing in the center of the nation’s No. 3 defense.

Playing alongside defensive stars like Kyle Van Noy and Ziggy Ansah, Brandon was sometimes overshadowed; but draft analysts and NFL scouts are well aware of his abilities and productivity.

One of the things that scouts really like about the McKinny, Texas native is his motor-always-on style of play, and it’s a big reason he was invited to participate in both the NFLPA and Casino Del Sol all-star games last month. Having played the last four years under Mendenhall, the habit of playing with fanatical effort and an unrelenting pursuit to the football has become second nature to him.

“I definitely always try to be at the ball,” Ogltree says. “As a middle linebacker you should be at the ball. I would say these past two years, I’ve tried to step my game up and always be at the ball.”

His ability to read defenses has also played big a role in his success at the college level. Although he may not be the fastest linebacker in the country, his ability to seemingly know where the ball is going to be makes him faster on the field than some players possessing more raw speed.

“That’s one of the things that I take pride in. I’ve played linebacker ever since little league and I think that’s one advantage that I’ve had. In high school I wasn’t a running back, I wasn’t a wide receiver, I wasn’t a safety. I’ve just played linebacker my whole life and been able to take tons of reps.

“I think the other thing that contributes to that is film study. If you have an idea of where the ball is going before the ball is snapped, it’s a lot easier to react to it and be where you are supposed to be.”

At 5-11, 236-pounds, he is admittedly undersized for a linebacker at the next level. It’s a reality and limitation that he has learned to deal with throughout his career and he’s found ways to compensate for his lack of ideal size.

“The NFL is definitely a league of big, fast, strong people,” says Brandon. “But there are also been plenty of players that didn’t have ideal height or weight that have made it. A few of the scouts out at the all-star game were joking with me, saying that I was too short, and I was like, ‘hey, what you call short is what I just call natural pad leverage.’

“I’ve never been yelled at by any coaches that I need to get my pads lower to get under blocks,” he jokes. “I try to make it into an advantage.¬† If I were 6-1 or 6-2 the story would probably be a little bit different for me and I would probably be a little more highly touted, but 5-11 is the hand that I’ve been dealt and I just have to make the most it.”

A lot of BYU fans are probably familiar with the story that has been told and retold about how Brandon and his parents had to hound Mendenhall in order to receive a BYU scholarship. However, Ogletree says that the account of how he came to Provo has been stretched by his coach and the media into a tall tale.

After all, its not like he was lightly recruited. Programs like TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Stanford and Arkansas all recruited him out of high school.

“That story has been embellished every year. (Mendenhall) likes to use it to jab at me,” Ogletree explains with a laugh. “The truth is that out of high school, I was recruited by a lot of good football schools. I was first-team all-state in Texas, which is a pretty big deal. I always wanted to come to BYU; I grew up a BYU fan and my parents came here. I grew up watching BYU games, but BYU was the one school that I didn’t get recruited by.”

He actually was recruited to BYU by Gary Crowton early in his high school career, but when Crowton was shown the door in Provo following the 2004 season, Brandon fell through the cracks. With no offer coming from the Cougars, he committed to play at Oklahoma State. That’s when his father picked up the phone and called Bronco to let him know that he was about to miss out on a LDS kid who was a all-state linebacker in the nation’s most talent-rich state.

And even though he was set to play in the Big-12, BYU was still where Brandon’s heart was.

“One of the main reasons that I wanted to come to BYU is because I had a high school coach that coached with Coach Mendenhall at Louisiana Tech. He just raved about him and told me about how great of a coach he was and how great of a defensive mind he was. I think in terms of coaches, and especially in terms of defensive minds, he has to be one of the best in the country.”

Since arriving in Provo, the feeling has become mutual and Ogletree has developed into the quintessential, blue-collar kind of player that Mendenhall loves. After returning home from a mission in Chile, he saw action in ten games as a freshman, started eight games as a sophomore, and then became a fixture in the middle of Bronco’s defense over the past two seasons.

“I think Coach Mendenhall has always respected me. I’ve always been a guy that’s not afraid to voice his opinion. Coach Mendenhall¬† intimidates a lot of people, but I’ve always been able to joke around with him and be cool with him, so we have had a good relationship and I have nothing but respect for him.”

With his college career in his review mirror, he now embarks on a future that he hopes will include an opportunity at the next level. His best fit would probably be with a team that runs the same 3-4 alignment that BYU employs.

“I’d probably be most comfortable in the 3-4 because that’s what I’m used to playing in, but I think I’m being look at for both.”

Some draft experts, such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., have voiced their opinions that Ogletree may be able to avoid the free agent route and could be a late-round pick in April’s draft. Brandon says that he is prepared for whatever situation comes his way.

“Most scouts and GMs these days keep things pretty close to the vest. I wouldn’t be surprised to be drafted, and I would be surprised if I go undrafted; so I’m prepared for both scenarios and ready to roll with whatever happens.

“One of my best friends in the world is (former Cougar) Vic So’oto. We talk a lot, and he had a situation a lot like mine. He went undrafted even though he did really well at his Pro Day and had a great career at BYU. All that I worry about is what I can control. If I read anything with my name in it that says I could be drafted, I take that will a grain of salt. Who knows what is going to happen. All that I can control is how hard I work and how I do at Pro Day–so that’s all that I’m worried about.”

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12 Comments »

  • BigCougar said:

    Good luck Brandon!

    One of my favorite players of all time is former Miami Dolphin and Texas Tech MLB Zach Thomas who was about the same size as Brandon and also had a motor that wouldn’t quit.

    Thomas had a very distinguished career at TT, was a 2 time SWC DPoY and a consensus 1st Team AA his senior year yet because of his size he slipped to the 5th round where Jimmy Johnson and the Dolphins got the steal of the draft.

    He went to 7 Pro Bowls with Miami, was named to the All Decade team and finished his career with more tackles than any LB currently in the Hall of Fame.

    Brandon might not get drafted but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t find his way onto an NFL roster and make a career in the NFL.

  • Blue Cougar Football said:

    Very good article. I think Tree will make it somewhere in the NFL

  • Frank said:

    Is that picture at the bottom of the article Ogletree or is it an advertisement?

  • Jimmerfan said:

    Frank-

    That looks a lot like Ogletree! I didnt notice that at first. That’s pretty funny!

  • El Jefe said:

    same balding forehead at least

  • El Jefe said:

    I don’t think he will get drafted but he’ll definitely get his shot as a free agent with a lot of teams. I think it will definitely depend on the team he ends up with whether or not he will see playing time or have success in the NFL. I hope he at least gets some good paychecks while he is there. Good Luck Brandon

  • byujack said:

    Unfortunately, what will stop him from getting drafted isn’t his size, but his speed. Here is to hoping he blows it up on his pro-day and somehow blows up with a 4.6 40.

  • Jonathan C said:

    From what I remember, and I could be wrong is that most linebackers don’t get drafted. They are usually picked up as free agents in the end. So Ogletree even if he doesn’t get drafted will probably get a chance with a team.

  • Scott N said:

    @ Jonathan

    Most LBs actually do get drafted, those that stay in the league anyway. It is possible for any player regardless of possition to go undrafted and still stick for a career, but it is much more likely if they are drafted.

    However, if he doesn’t get drafted based on his measurables, which IMO is why he wouldn’t get drafted, then he has a great chance to stick around in the right system. All he did was make tackles. He made most fans here forget that Uona Kaveinga was supposed to be so good when he came from USC but just didn’t meet the hype.

  • Brian Clark said:

    Go get ‘em, Brandon. We’re rooting for you!

  • Wiscougarfan said:

    The article doesn’t mention the combine… did Tree not get an invite?

  • Brett Richins (author) said:

    Wiscougarfan,

    No he did not.

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