There is no good time to get hurt, but for Cedric Ogbuehi, suffering an ACL injury in his very last college football game was the worst timing imaginable. A standout offensive lineman for Texas A&M, Ogbuehi suffered what he thought was an MCL sprain during the third quarter of the Aggies’ Liberty Bowl victory over West Virginia. Ogbuehi played through it, thinking nothing of it. Then came the MRI and the news that the injury was more serious.
Even worse, Ogbeuhi had an opportunity to jump to the NFL the previous season but chose to turn it down. With his draft stock now draped in uncertainty, Ogbuehi dove head first into rehab while simultaneously working on his upper body to prepare for the Bench Press at the upcoming NFL Combine. We caught up with the big man to discuss his rehab, the hardships of suffering such a serious injury and his NFL dreams.
STACK: Did you know right away that you tore your ACL?
Cedric Ogbuehi: It happened in the third quarter, and I still played the whole game. Then I came down here [to Proactive Sports Performance], and we thought it was an MCL sprain. I got an MRI just to make sure and I found out it was the ACL. So it was a shocking day, but you’ve got to get over it and get working.
How did you feel when you learned it was an ACL tear?
That day was hard. I gave myself one day to mope around and feel sorry for myself, and the next day I said, “All right, let me get this work in and get healthy.”
What was your plan before the injury and what is it now?
My plan was to be here two months and then go to the Combine and then back to Texas. But now, I’ll probably be here until the Combine. Mindset-wise, I used to think about going to the Combine and doing the 40-Yard Dash and stuff. Now I’m just concentrating on my Bench Press because that’s all I’m going to do.
How’s the rehab going so far?
The first part of it is to get my quad strength back and get my flexion and extension. So that’s the biggest part, the first 4 to 6 weeks, the flexion and the extension. The first part is just getting it to bend, getting it to extend. It’s a really slow process right now.
Has it been challenging?
The rehab is pretty painful. It’s a long process. So you talk about patience, and I’m an impatient person, so it’s kind of hard to be patient and watch it get better slowly.
What’s your timetable for getting fully healthy?
I’ve heard so many different things. I’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve had torn ACLs. You start to get a better idea once you can bend fully and start having no pain when you bend it. I’ve heard five months, six months, seven months, eight months. I’ve heard so many different time frames.
Was it disheartening to suffer the injury when it happened?
I don’t think so. Working with Ryan and J.T. [Ryan Capretta and J.J. Wright, trainers at ProActive], I see improvements in my upper body. And it’s kind of good motivation to pass the look test from the scouts and let them see I’ve been working out and get my bench reps as high as possible.
What’s different about these workouts from what you did in college?
In college, you have four coaches to coach 120 players. So it’s too hard to kind of individualize for the players. But here, there’s four coaches coaching two guys at a time usually. So they can just coach you in different areas. They watch each rep, make sure every rep is done right. Even small things like Curls, they just make sure it’s done right. They just focus more on the small things and the technique of it.
How has training with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (the Oregon cornerback who also tore his ACL) been?
It’s helped a lot. Just knowing that he’s going through the same things, so we can talk about it and just grind together. Knowing we’re focused on showing everybody that we’re healthy.
You guys ever compete in workouts?
I’m a lineman and he’s a corner. So we can’t really have any workouts where we compete. He’s going to beat me in core, and I’m going to beat him in arms.
What’s been driving you?
Just getting healthy as soon as possible. Just showing teams that I’ve improved a lot.
Is there any one person in your life who motivates you to chase your dream?
Really just my whole family. Not anybody in particular, just my whole immediate family. Brothers, sisters, mom and dad.
What does going to the NFL mean to you?
It’s been a dream. Like everybody. My family, I want to help them out as much as possible. Just really, it’s been a dream. It’d be kind of cool to play with the big boys, and I’ve seen a lot of my ex-teammates go there and succeed so I’m just waiting for my turn.
Check out more 2015 NFL rookie stories through STACK’s Path to the Pros 2015.