Hello, my name is Taylor Kurth. Some of you may remember my previous alias of "PercyHarvinMyFav" from about three years back. I was a big time poster back then but due to a busier schedule and workload, I had to gradually cut down my posting from once in awhile, to rarely, to never. I deactivated my account but never left the DN community, I still check the site three to five times per day and I am very pleased with how far this site has came since I first joined back in '09.
Getting to the point, I am currently a freshman at North Dakota State University studying journalism and earlier this week, I met with the Bison's fourth leading rusher of all time and 3 time 1000 yard rusher, Sam Ojuri and talked to him about his path to the draft. I'll include my story below.
"You don’t stay hungry by sleeping in silk sheets" (Sam Ojuri). This sentence defined in two words would be: complacency kills. Sam Ojuri is one of many hopefuls who are looking to hear their name called on the second weekend of May and Ojuri is anything but complacent.
Growing up an hour outside of Chicago in Barrington, IL. Ojuri has wanted to be a professional athlete long before you heard his name. Ojuri and his family moved out of the rough streets of Chicago when he was about four years old and he bounced around until the 8th grade. At that point, that was when he was put into the Barrington school system. Ojuri says that moving to Barrington "Was the best move my parents could have done for me. That put me in a great position to excel as a student and an athlete." Ojuri is looking to get drafted as a running back, however, he did not start carrying the rock until his sophomore year in high school.
"My junior year, they tried me out as a receiver but I never really got the ball, so whenever I did get an opportunity, I knew I had to take it to the house. I think I averaged 11 yards a carry when they finally moved me back to running back halfway through the year. I guess I was a late bloomer" After great junior and senior years, Ojuri took a scholarship to North Dakota State University where he had an illustrious career. Ojuri was a key cog in a team that won three straight FCS championships from 2011-2013. He ran for 1000 yards in each of the championship seasons, despite never receiving more than 36% of the total carries. He finished his career with the fourth most rushing yards by any running back in NDSU history.
Looking at his credentials, he should be considered as a high draft pick. However, because of playing in an FCS system and splitting carries, Ojuri is an underdog heading into the draft. Don’t fear though because he loves it, he embraces it.
"I’m in the process of making a name for myself…but my numbers are right up there with those guys (Other collegiate running back prospects). I’m chasing my lifelong dream, ever since I was 9 or 10, I’ve always envisioned this in my mind and achieving these goals is my biggest motivation, so I’ll be the underdog… I ALWAYS gotta stay hungry."
After winning his third straight FCS championship, Ojuri left the flat lands and high winds of Fargo to head to the beautiful snow capped mountains of Denver to train for the upcoming NFL Draft. He trained for eight straight weeks, working six or more hours a day, going four days a week. Ojuri trained as hard as he did because he knows he has to separate himself from other backs and distinguish himself heading into the draft: "Everyone can make plays, but I can make plays in different ways. I can make plays in special teams, I can run, catch the ball, AND I can block for the quarterback. I am a three down back."
Most athletes cannot wait to get their first paycheck, but Ojuri cannot wait to get his 20th. "I’m not really into the first check, I’m thinking about working hard to get that second contract. Down the road with that money, I want to open up a rec center and a Sickle Cell foundation. Kids need that role model and place to get better at what they like. Having someone to look up to, that’s big." As for sickle cell, "My sister has sickle cell. That’s a plan of mine to get a foundation so they know that there is support."
Sam Ojuri has had one dream since he was 10 and he is a mere two months away from finally catching his dream in the strong Fargo winds.