Victor Ochi has been in this situation before.
The Valley Stream Central product was lightly recruited as a senior in 2011. Stony Brook took a chance on the talented but raw edge rusher, and he became the school’s all-time leader in sacks and tackles for loss.
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Flash forward to Saturday. Shortly after the 2016 NFL Draft concluded without his name being called, Ochi agreed to an undrafted free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens. And now, just as he did five years ago, he has the chance to prove his doubters wrong.
“I feel like the Ravens got a steal signing me, and I’m going to go out there and prove what I need to do,” Ochi said. “It’s something that I’ve been used to before in the past, and I just get another chance to rewrite my own history again.”
Although Ochi wasn’t able to become the first Stony Brook player to be drafted, he had an impressive predraft process. He was named a captain at the 2016 East-West Shrine Game, where he impressed scouts at practices and got a sack in the game. He ran a 4.86 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February.
After the seventh round ended and Ochi agreed to the deal, he expressed a little bit of relief at finishing what he called “a long and stressful day.”
“I’m just really glad that the waiting is over,” said Ochi, who had 32 1⁄2 sacks and 49 tackles for loss with the Seawolves. “I still get an opportunity to play a football game, and that’s real ly what I’m looking forward to.”
That doesn’t mean the sting of going undrafted wasn’t there, though.
“If it was up to me, I wanted to be picked [Friday in round 2 or 3], honestly,” Ochi said. “But it’s just what the game really demands and what football is all about. It’s about how you handle adversity. It’s not something I’m new to, and I know how to handle it.”
The 6-1, 246-pound Ochi played defensive end with the Seawolves, but his best fit in the pros is as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, which the Ravens run.
Though they already have two established starters in Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil (both perennial Pro Bowlers) and drafted two other pass rushers in Boise State’s Kamalei Correa (second round) and Grand Valley State’s Matt Judon (fifth round), Ochi has a chance to have a role right away in a league in which getting to the quarterback is more important than ever.
Suggs, 33, missed the entire 2015 season with a torn Achilles and Dumervil will be 32 this season. The two totaled 29 of the Ravens’ 49 sacks in 2014.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Ochi said of the chance to learn from Suggs and Dumervil.
He can become the second Seawolf to play in an NFL regular-season game. Giants tight end Will Tye made his NFL debut last season.
Ochi intends to play with a chip on his shoulder, just as he has during his entire football career.
Said Ochi: “The NFL will hear about me soon.”