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2019 NFL draft: Introducing Devine Ozigbo, the underrated running back of the 2019 class

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL draft class is loaded with excellent value at the running back position, but few prospects possess the combination of size, athleticism and competitive drive that Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo showcased throughout his time as a Cornhusker.

Ozigbo wants to make his mark on the league despite not earning an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine (a huge mistake on the league’s part).

In this exclusive interview with MCM, Ozigbo talks about how playing in two totally different offenses at Nebraska prepared him for the next level, which former running back his running style is similar to, and why Andy Janovich was the craziest teammate he ever had.

JM: How would you describe your running style?

DO: I’m a bigger back so I have the natural juice and power that comes with that. I think I also provide a lot of the skills that a smaller back would provide. My natural frame helps with that.

JM: How did playing in Nebraska’s offense prepare you for what’s next?

DO: I think I got the best of both worlds at Nebraska. I played in two very different offenses. My first few years there, I played in what you would call a pro style offense. It taught me a lot about how to read defenses which helps prepare me for the next level. They obviously call it a pro style offense for a reason. It helped get me acquainted with how things may work in the NFL. We then made a change to more of a spread offense. That’s what I believe the NFL is shifting towards now. I learned about zone reads and I had to catch the ball out of the backfield more frequently. It all came together nicely.

JM: Do you think there’s a scheme that fits you best at the next level?

DO: I can see myself performing well in a spread option type of offense. I think I could really help a team there. With that said, I don’t think there’s a scheme that I wouldn’t be successful in. I definitely think a zone running game, running out of shotgun could lead to some immediate success for me though.

JM: What’s the biggest lesson you learned throughout your time at Nebraska?

DO: My coaches taught me that the little things matter. You can’t overlook those things. There are no shortcuts to greatness. It doesn’t exist. If you plan on skipping the little details it takes to become great, you’re never gonna get there. You’ll never become a complete player by taking shortcuts. No task is too small for you to tackle with 100% effort.

JM: I love that answer. Which running backs did you enjoy watching growing up? Do you model your game after any of them in particular?

DO: When it comes to modeling my game, I wouldn’t say I try to run like anybody else. I’ve definitely watched running backs like Adrian Peterson of course and I have a unique appreciation for him. That’s the greatest running back of my generation. Le’Veon Bell is another guy. I really enjoyed watching him in college. He was the reason I thought about going to Michigan State. I just loved watching him run the ball. If I had to compare myself to a running back however, I think I run like Arian Foster. He was a bigger guy but he had excellent balance, he could string together moves coming out of the backfield. He moved so well for his size. I feel like I run the same way.

JM: I love that comparison. I recently found out that you didn’t get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. That’s beyond ridiculous to me. Does that put a bigger emphasis on your Pro Day for you?

DO: It definitely puts more of a spotlight on my Pro Day. It kinda makes it more fun to be honest. I’m apart of a good senior class and I feel like a lot of teams are gonna come out to take a closer look at us. It provides a little more hype and adds a little more intensity to things. It’s gonna be a fun experience for sure.

JM: Who would you say is the best defensive player you’ve ever played against and why?

DO: Two guys that immediately come to mind are Derek Barnett from Tennessee and Devin Bush from Michigan. Those two guys definitely stood out to me. They’re some ball players man. They’re so quick off the ball. Both of them have excellent snap anticipation. They read things fast and they’re incredibly strong. They were taking games over out there. I really appreciated the opportunity to compete against those guys.

JM: You’ve had a lot of great teammates throughout your time at Nebraska, but I’m gonna put you on the spot. If you were going to war tomorrow and could only bring one with you, who are you bringing and why?

DO: I would definitely have to go with Andy Janovich. He plays for the Denver Broncos now. He’s the toughest dude I’ve ever encountered while playing football [laughs]. Yeah, I said ever. He’s a freak. You just have to watch him. You’re just like wow.

JM: That’s hilarious [laughs]. I’ve appreciated your time tonight, Devine. When a team uses one of their draft picks on Devine Ozigbo, what kinda guy are they getting?

DO: They’re adding a quality asset to their football team. I’m going to have a positive influence from the locker room to the football field. I’m an asset to every aspect of the organization. I have the same attitude in every day life. I bring nothing but good energy to the table. I just try to be the best person that I can be. When it comes to my team, I want everybody to get better. I want everybody to be successful. I’m always striving to improve both as a player and as a man. There aren’t any drawbacks to adding me to your franchise. I’m always going to put my best foot forward. I’m gonna work hard at all the things that are asked of me.