Rams pick "O.J." Atogwe at number 3
Position: Free Safety
Hometown: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
One of the best-kept secrets in college football, except to opposing tight ends and running backs who have felt the wrath of this hard-hitting tackler. The two-year starter is an active, aggressive playmaker who led the team in tackles in each of his last three seasons. Atogwe also was a member of Stanford's nationally-ranked track team in 2001 and 2002. He participated in the sprints and jumps, and his best marks in 2002 included 22-foot-10 in the long jump and 43-foot-3¾ in the triple jump.
One of the top prep players in Canada coming out of W.F. Herman Secondary School, Atogwe played four sports and was a two-year starter at running back and cornerback. He was named the league's defensive MVP in 1999 and was also chosen all-city as a running back. He played in the Ontario Varsity Football League during the summer of '99, where he was Defensive Back of the Year in the league after intercepting six passes in five games. He was league MVP in basketball as a senior and a three-time all-city selection. In addition, he played three years of varsity soccer and competed in the long jump, triple jump and 200-meter dash (22.8) in track.
Atogwe redshirted as a freshman at Stanford in 2000. He appeared in every game as a reserve free safety in 2001, producing four tackles on special teams. Atogwe took over the strong safety position in 2002, going on to start the next 33 games for the Cardinal. He led the team with 71 tackles (47 solos), a sack, a fumble recovery, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and four pass deflections.
He was named team co-MVP and earned second-team All-Pac 10 Conference honors in 2003, as he again led the team with a career-high 90 tackles (54 solos), including five stops behind the line of scrimmage, two interceptions and eight pass deflections while manning the free safety position. He also led the league with six fumble recoveries and six forced fumbles.
Atogwe garnered All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention as the team co-captain and led the team with 76 tackles (45 solos), two forced fumbles, four interceptions and seven pass deflections while again lining up at free safety as a senior. In 44 games with the Cardinal, he totaled 241 tackles (149 solos) with a 16-yard sack and six stops for losses of 27 yards. He recovered seven fumbles for 62 yards in returns and set a school career-record with 11 forced fumbles. He gained 81 yards on nine interceptions and batted away 19 passes. His nine interceptions are tied for eighth on the school's career-record list.
Positives: Has broad shoulders, long arms, narrow hips, good bubble and knotted calves … Fluid and sudden athlete who excels as a centerfielder in coverage … Smooth in his backpedal, staying low in his pads to turn easily coming out of his backpedal … Has the acceleration to cover ground quickly and has the balance and speed to stay on a slot receiver in upfield action … Very disciplined in zone coverage, doing a good job of reading the receiver's double moves and keeping the action in front of him … Tracks the ball well and shows explosion and proper wrap-up technique to make forceful tackles in the open … Gets his head on the right side to maintain eye contact on the ball in deep routes … Has the hand strength to get a good push off blocks and the agility to sift through trash, find the clear lane and string plays out … Has adequate lateral agility and takes good angles to compensate for a lack of top-end speed in pursuit … Shows small, but natural and soft hands to compete for the ball in the air … Attacks the ball aggressively and will generally be successful in trying to separate ball carriers from the ball (seven fumble recoveries, 11 forced fumbles in three years).
Negatives: Lacks ideal size, but can compensate with power … Good playmaker, but sometimes plays too conservative, as if he is afraid that he will pay for it if he gambles … A step slow at times to read and react to the run, as he does not show suddenness in attacking the line … Needs to do a better job of opening his hips, as his stiffness in that area slows his change of direction … Fails to plant and drive when trying to change direction in the open, gathering himself before making his break … Inconsistent playing off blocks … Does not have that second gear needed to recover when beaten in man coverage.
No injuries reported.
4.554 in the 40-yard dash … 335-pound bench press … 525-pound squat … 285-pound power clean … 36-inch vertical jump … 32 1/2-inch arm length … 8 1/2-inch hands … Right-handed.
Attended W.F. Herman (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Secondary School … One of the top prep players in Canada … Named All-Canada, All-Ontario and All-Academic … Was a two-year starter at running back and cornerback … Named the league's Defensive MVP in 1999 … Also chosen all-city as a running back … Played in the Ontario Varsity Football League during the summer of 1999 … Was the Defensive Back of the Year in the league after intercepting six passes in five games … League MVP in basketball as a senior and three-time all-city pick … Played three years of varsity soccer … Competed in the long jump, triple jump and 200-meter dash (22.8) in track.
Biological Science major … Went by O.J. his first two years at Stanford … Also goes under the nicknames Pico, Juice, Shum … Parents are of Nigerian descent … Born June 28, 1981 … Resides in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.