News From Terre Haute, Indiana

CNHI News Service Originals

February 3, 2007

From the pressbox: From IU to the Super Bowl: Ogunleye appreciates trip

Miami — Going into the 1999 season, then-Indiana University senior defensive end Adewale Ogunleye had the world at his feet.

Next to dazzling quarterback Antwaan Randle El, Ogunleye was clearly the Hoosiers’ best hope to play on Sundays at the time. He was All-Big Ten his sophomore season in 1997, and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 1998. He was already IU’s career leader in sacks (26 1/2) and tackles for loss (53) with a season to boost his records and his already lofty NFL draft status.

It was questionable whether he’d even come back to Bloomington for his senior season, announcing right before the deadline to declare for the draft that he’d be back in a Hoosier uniform.

“After my junior year, I was rated higher on [ESPN analyst] Mel Kiper’s draft board than Courtney Brown, who was eventually the first pick in the draft,” said Ogunleye from the Chicago Bears Super Bowl XLI headquarters.

It all ended in a monsoon on Oct. 9, 1999 against Northwestern at IU’s Memorial Stadium. On a muddy field, Ogunleye tore the ACL in his left knee.

At the time, Ogunleye was fifth on the Big Ten’s all-time sack list with 34 career sacks. But the heavy rain drops were symbolic of a fall to come, as his IU career was over and so were his NFL Draft prospects.

Given where he had to start over from, Ogunleye’s journey to Super Bowl XLI is one he doesn’t take for granted.

“I appreciate this journey more than the next guy because I really had to work hard and nothing was given to me,” Ogunleye said. “Everyone dreams about the Super Bowl, but to play against an Indiana team with the Colts and to play in Dolphin Stadium, where I started my pro career? No I never thought that would happen.”

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