Wednesday, April 10, 1996
Athlete succesfully combines football and track careers
By Emmanuelle Ejercito
Daily Bruin Staff
By the end of this week, Jonathan Ogden won’t be a member of the starving college students club. Instead, he will be a member of a professional football team, as he is expected to be among the first five picks in Saturday’s NFL draft.
While most people would rest on their laurels, content with the assurance of a big draft-day jackpot, Ogden strives to reach his goals on the field. No, not the football field.
Ogden, as a member of the UCLA track and field team, toils to make his mark in the shot put, something he takes every bit as seriously as football.
“When I’m out here throwing the shot put and someone says, ‘Look at that football guy throwing the shot put,’ I don’t really like that,” Ogden said. “I expect someone to say, ‘Look at that shot putter; he also plays football.’”
Ogden realizes that he will always be known as a football player, especially since his future lies in that sport. But Ogden made gains in building a track reputation, too, when he won the NCAA indoor title last month in Indianapolis. And Ogden plans to compete in the Olympic Trials for the chance to be in Atlanta this summer. If he makes it, he is willing to miss a couple of weeks of football training camp to fulfill his Olympic dreams.
“I don’t think that it would hurt my football,” Ogden said. “I would get into the swing of things very quickly, so it wouldn’t hurt anything.”
Throughout most of his life, Ogden has found the delicate balance between football and throwing. Following in the footsteps of his father, Shirrel, Ogden began throwing the shot put to complement football in high school. In fact, he has perfected his balancing act to an art form Â especially now with all of the excitement surrounding the draft. In a show of his dexterity, Ogden flew to Baltimore last Thursday to talk to the Ravens (formerly the Cleveland Browns), then flew back to Los Angeles Friday and placed second in Saturday’s track meet.
Despite his hectic schedule and the fact that he splits his attention between track and football, his track coaches don’t feel that football detracts in any way from his ability in the throwing ring.
“We think that (football) enhances him as a person,” UCLA throws coach Art Venegas said. “We think that he wouldn’t be as much fun if he wasn’t a football player, because that is what he is. And football people should enjoy seeing him as a track man because he is accomplished in everything he does.”
And his accomplishments are numerous.
In track, aside from winning the indoor title, Ogden placed first at the Junior National meet and is a four-time All-American in the shot put.
In football, he won the Outland Trophy and was runner-up for the Lombardi Award. Ogden has been named first team All-American by everybody in the nation and received the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10′s best offensive lineman. These are just some of the football honors he earned at the end of last season. The full list of his achievements would be as thick as the unabridged version of the Oxford Dictionary of the English language.
While it would be easy for Ogden to concentrate on football, he doesn’t. Ogden, a fierce competitor, enjoys the individuality of throwing the shot.
“In track, it’s you against the ball,” Ogden said. “You are throwing against another person, but you are also throwing to have
a personal best. You can throw well and lose and you know you can be happy with yourself if you lose sometimes. But football, if you lose, it doesn’t matter how you play.”
Ogden sees no basic difference between shot putting and football athletically. He feels that one has to be strong, powerful and quick – all qualities that the 6-foot-8-inch athlete embodies. But Ogden does believe that the shot putter is the better
“I don’t think that all offensive lineman could throw the shot put,” Ogden said. “But I think a big shot putter could play football.
“I think that more (true) athletes throw the shot put. Football players – it’s hard to describe it – you have to be
cerebral yet aggressive, a thinking man and yet a crazy man at the same time.”
Although he is satisfied with his throwing accomplishments, Ogden also has a couple of shot put goals he wants to satisfy before he gets serious with his professional football career.
“I would like to get myself on the top 10 all-time list at UCLA,” Ogden said. “I would like to try and win the outdoor nationals if I can. You know if me and Mark (Parlin) go one-two, that’s what I would like.”
But even when football becomes his breadwinner, after 10 years of throwing, Ogden is not completely ready to banish shot put from his life forever.
“It won’t just end,” Ogden said. “I’ll continue lifting with my pro team where ever I am and play football, see how my strength
level is and how my competitive fire is for the shot put. And in the year 2000, hopefully I would be that much older, stronger and ready to throw. If I am ready to make the (Olympic) team, then I’ll give it a shot.”