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Larry Ogunjobi shares his fitness journey

From a player who was too big to bend over to NFL starter, Browns defensive tackle has an inspiring tale.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi has gone from a relatively unknown draft pick in 2017 to a main piece of the team’s starting defensive line.

Turns out that Ogunjobi could have a side career as a weight-loss specialist.

Ogunjobi was featured last week in an article in Men’s Health magazine where he detailed his transformation from a 350-pound ninth grader to a starter on the most-talked about NFL team in 2019.

It all started after Ogunjobi’s parents hired Robert Mitchell, a weight loss coach, to work with Ogunjobi. After losing 20 pounds, Mitchell decided that the next step would be for Ogunjobi to take up football.

With his parents’ blessing - but against his own objections, Ogunjobi joined the junior varsity team. Even though he was forced to play noseguard from a two-point stance because he couldn’t bend over, Ogunjobi played well enough to earn a most improved player award at the end of the season.

That gave Ogunjobi the confidence to take his fitness seriously and see where football could take him, as he explains in the article:

“I asked my coach right after the season exactly what I would have to do to get recruited by colleges. He told me I had to get faster, stronger, and perfect my technique. I cut soda and juice, which really helped a lot. My body composition started changing, and I went into my junior year at 247 pounds. I dropped so much weight that my coach kind of got mad at me. He was like, ‘Are you trying to play DB now?’ So I had to put some weight back on.”

The rest of the story is well known to Browns fans. Ogunjobi played college ball at UNC-Charlotte, where he set school records for school records sacks, tackles for loss and tackles - before becoming one of the best draft picks in recent Browns history.

Along the way, Ogunjobi has stayed serious about his fitness and works to ensure he does not have any relapses:

“I used to be a really big snacker, like I could finish a whole bag of trail mix in one sitting. But I learned that if I wanted to have abs and look a certain way and feel better, it’s not about having anything you want; it’s understanding that you need to have discipline to stay on track. I was never the star athlete. But I was able to do these things by working really hard and training and doing the right things. My story is that if you want it, you can do it, too.”

It is a great story and another example of how Ogunjobi is a Browns player who is easy to root for.