Newnan LB ready to start career with St. Louis Rams
by Chris Goltermann
The suit and tie took more the look of a newly hired executive than an NFL linebacker on Friday.
But in so many ways, the St. Louis Rams were more than willing put their faith in Alec Ogletree to knock the socks off opponents.
Either way, the Newnan native, who excelled on the field for both the Cougars and the University of Georgia, aced the job interview, even if his submitted resume wasn’t quite perfect.
“We were in the right place in the right time,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told reporters after selecting Ogletree with the 30th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft late Thursday after the Bulldog middle linebacker — who led his team with 111 tackles last fall — nearly dropped out of the first round following a couple of transgressions off the field.
His mother, Allyson, thinks her son has learned from them.
“I tell people when you meet him he does have that calm exterior, like nothing gets to him,” she said. “He’s really, really excited for the opportunity and he’s going to cherish it and make this city and our hometown, everyone, proud of him.”
And he’ll be back home real soon.
The Rams travel to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 15 at the Georgia Dome.
Despite waiting until nearly midnight, at the end of round one, to get a phone call from his new coach, Ogletree was overjoyed to see a childhood dream become a reality.
“It’s been a dream since I was little,” he said. “My mom can tell you that when I was very little, I told them that when I grew up I wanted to be in the NFL. To get the opportunity to do that, it’s a blessing and I’m just thankful.”
It was just the second time an athlete from Coweta County was picked in the first round of the NFL Draft, with Ogletree joining 14-year veteran linebacker Keith Brooking out of rival East Coweta to earn the honor.
Both players share the same agent, Atlanta-based Pat Dye Jr., who hosted the Ogletree family at his home to watch Thursday’s first-round.
“I was just looking for the opportunity to get my name called,” Ogletree said. “As far as where I got drafted, it didn’t really matter. I just wanted to be drafted.”
When the call finally came, well past 11 p.m., the ensuing celebration didn’t sound any more muted than had he gone first overall.
“My mom and dad, everybody was just screaming in the background,” he said. “As soon as the phone rang they started going crazy. It was fun though. I can say it was worth the wait.”
His new bosses sure didn’t mind grabbing a bargain late in the first round that saw Ogletree’s projections fall from a potential top-15 pick to the final three selections on Thursday after raising red flags with some teams.
They included an arrest in February on suspicion of DUI while training for the upcoming NFL Combine. Even Fisher felt like it made one of the top-15 picks in the nation a veritable bargain after the Rams traded down with the Falcons to pick up an extra pick in both the third and sixth round this year.
Both Fisher and Rams general manager Les Snead said Friday that Ogletree’s talents were too impressive to pass on during a first round where St. Louis also moved up eight picks to select wide receiver Tavon Austin of West Virginia with the No. 8 overall selection.
“People make mistakes and this was a maturity issue. He learned very well, very quickly what affect those choices have,” Fisher said. “We don’t have a concern. We felt because of some of those issues that he had a chance to fall.”
The two were introduced together on Friday in front of the St. Louis media with Fisher describing them as “two very explosive, talented young players.”
Meeting with the Rams prior to the draft, Snead remarked how the team’s staff, including linebackers coach Frank Bush, was impressed during an on-site interview “drawing up a lot of things we’re going to see in the division. He said ‘Hey what do you do right here?,’
“Ogletree drew a line and said ‘I go right here and make the tackle at the line of scrimmage. He didn’t get into this or that, he just said, ‘I’m going to meet that guy right there.’ I think Frank was sold at that moment.”
With the process of finding an NFL home behind him after three-plus months of waiting, the former Cougar can focus on getting back on the field and hopefully tuck those red flags away for good.
“I’m definitely up for the challenge. I’m very comfortable in my ability to tackle someone and run them down. I feel like when we’re in between the lines, no one’s faster than me,” he said. “I just have to come in and perform on the field, and just help this team the best way I can.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.