Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry details the 26 approximate hours when former Georgia star Azeez Ojulari transitioned from being the best player on the 2020 Georgia Bulldogs to the NFL. DawgNation had exclusive access to Ojulari’s draft nights last week.
There was finally joy to soak up last Friday evening. Azeez Ojulari was finally picked by the New York Giants.
Let’s go first to the happiest scene at the Cobb County townhome which doubled as Team Ojulari draft headquarters. It was the movie moment.
It was a time that Ojulari likely never saw. Unless it was a recording.
He was on team calls and media calls in a downstairs bedroom. His friends and family were upstairs dancing. This was not a time to keep the noise down. Champagne had sprayed across a makeshift living room-slash-dance floor.
Various bills of different denominations were tossed in a circle around the floor. It seemed a fitting tribute for all the many things that had taken place across the last 26 hours.
That was before Jay-Z called. The entertainment icon is also the man behind Roc Nation Sports. His agency had signed Ojulari as their client. He was on a plane but called in to wish everyone well.
When it was all over, Ojulari was still happy. How could he not be? He will soon be famously wealthy in the 99.9th percentile of all the 20-year-olds in the world.
“Going to play for big blue” is what he would say more than a few times that night.
The first draft HQ had been in Fayetteville. That party never started.
Overdue glee finally bounced off the walls on Friday night. Ojulari went 18 names and another 85 minutes deep into the second round to be chosen.
“Got something to prove,” Ojulari also said many times that night.
No one saw it coming. Ojulari had turnstiled SEC tackles for 15 sacks across two splendid seasons.
Relief was probably the better descriptor. Those bottles stayed corked during the first round. Yet when his name was called with the 50th pick, there was finally dancing. Everyone in the room had a phone and was either recording or streaming. Or both.
Azeez Ojulari: Waiting for the call to be a Giant
Ojulari had to weather those picks. He’d scan his phone more than a teenager. He’d look. And wait. Then soak up another pick that was not his name.
He’d shake his head. Exhale. Smile.
He did this after at least 40 picks across two days late last week. There were six selections taken ahead of him drafted to play his position in the NFL, including three straight Edge defenders to close out the first round.
“I was praying inside of me to God almighty after every pick,” his father Monsuru Ojulari said. “C’mon, man. Oh God let it happen for this boy. So that he can be free in his heart and move on in his life. I saw the picks moving. Pick 33. Pick 34, 35. Pick 40. Pick 41 and 45. I had it in my mind what was going through his heart.”
“I’d talk to him. He’d say to ‘stay calm and it will come through’ because Azeez is a very disciplined guy. When Momma would talk to him, he’d say ‘I’m fine” and “my time is coming’ because that’s just who he is. I was running in place in my mind. I was running it for him, but he was calm and was just like ‘What will be will be by God almighty’ through it all through every pick.”
It did get infuriating. Especially after that Big 10 linebacker with zero sacks in 2020 saw his name called in the first round. An ESPN graphic said it was the first time in 25 years that a pass rusher went first round after zero sacks in his previous college season.
Through it all, there was maybe one moment where he looked at the TV and just shook his head. That was for a full second. It was at the end of the first round on Thursday night.
He was humbled. Yet still focused and composed.
In a lot of ways, that’s going to be the measure of this young man as a professional.