The guy who saved the Peach Bowl for Georgia on Friday is now ready to play on Sundays. Georgia redshirt sophomore OLB Azeez Ojulari stated his intentions to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft a day after he took home Defensive MVP honors in the 2021 Peach Bowl
Ojulari shared his decision with a tweet from his social media account. The former U.S. Army All-American and Marietta High School alum has received projections that he will be a first-round draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
One love, Dawg Nation 🙏🏿❤️🖤 pic.twitter.com/lgtbFBgqrr
— Azeez (@_Azeez_8) January 2, 2021
Ojulari started all 10 games for Georgia this season and was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award. His UGA career was covered mostly as a starter after he recovered from a knee injury that cost him the majority of his senior year in high school.
When he recovered to shine against Texas in the 2019 Sugar Bowl, he was basically an impact starter on Georgia’s defense from that point on. He went on to start the final 22 games of his career as a Bulldog, including 13 starts in 2019.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound OLB finished his second full season in Athens with 31 tackles, including 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for losses. The three sacks he recorded against Cincinnati were both a season and a career-high. He finished his time as a Bulldog with 14.5 career sacks and 71 career tackles.
The redshirt sophomore OLB ended the Peach Bowl with a sack and safety on the game’s last play to score the final two points of the contest.
It was a fitting way to go out. There has been some concern that Ojulari would sit out the Peach Bowl as other top UGA prospects with high NFL grades had done so of late. He opted to play for the Bulldogs and it isn’t illogical to state that the Bulldogs would not have beaten the Bearcats without his stellar play.
“It was important for me to just to make sure the seniors go out the right way,” Ojulari said during his postgame Peach Bowl press conference. “Their last game, they worked so hard in this unpredictable season. You never know. Just got the opportunity to play for another game, so I took advantage of it, to play with my brothers. It was great.”
When he chose UGA over Auburn and Florida and others, he was rated as the nation’s No. 6 weak-side DE prospect in the 2018 class. There were two other higher-rated players at his position that Georgia even signed in that stellar No. 1 recruiting class, but Ojulari still quickly rose to the top.
Ojulari was laser timed at his Nike Opening regional qualifier at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash back then. His vertical leap was already an impressive 39.8 inches during those same testing sessions.
He was the 15th-highest rated out of the 24 elite recruits that Georgia signed in that cycle. But one can craft a pretty solid argument that he has been the best one of those on Saturdays in the red and black.
The same attitudes and focus which led him to set Marietta High School weight room records and earn a team captain honor just carried over to his time at Georgia. He was so strong and focused that members of the Georgia team quickly began calling him “Virbranium” as an ode to the title character and his super abilities in the beloved Marvel Comics “Black Panther” movie franchise.
At that time, Marietta coach Richard Morgan said he was the strongest member of their football team.
He stands just 5 pounds away from the school record of 335 pounds in the power clean. Ojulari also can bench press 355 pounds and squat 500-plus in the weight room. There was that time when Ojulari stepped in to play right tackle for his Blue Devils due to an injury.
He’d never played right tackle before. It didn’t matter. His team just needed him to do it. So he obliged.
Ojulari “just leads us every day with a strong example of working hard and taking care of his business,” Morgan said. “He’s a great character kid. He’s everything you want in a player already, but he can also improve a great deal in terms of his remaining football potential.”
That was his mindset as a recruit back in 2017.
“I am a really humble guy that is just ready to work,” Ojulari said. “I am really laid back. When it is time to work, I am going to work and just give it all I’ve got.”
He didn’t even enroll early and also came back from a clean ACL tear as a high school senior in 2017.