First NFL game Browns rookie attended -- and he played in it

Larry Ogunjobi had never set foot in an NFL stadium until Thursday night, when he did so as a Browns rookie defensive tackle. Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND -- Larry Ogunjobi had a pair of firsts Thursday night.

The first NFL game the Cleveland Browns rookie defensive tackle ever attended, he played in the game.

Obunjobi is the son of Nigerian immigrants who moved to the United States in 1993, a year before Larry was born. He did not start playing football until he was a sophomore in high school. His parents, alarmed that his weight had gotten to 350 pounds, urged him to get in shape and hired him a trainer.

The pair had worked for a couple of months when the trainer made a move.

"He took me to the high school one day, and I asked him what we were doing there and he said, 'You're going to play football,'" Ogunjobi said at the draft. "I said, 'No, I'm not.' He said, 'Yes, you are,' and I said, 'No, I'm not.' He got the permission slip from the lady at the front desk, and he took it to my mom and my mom signed it and I was on the football field that next Saturday."

His first thought about playing?

"Man, this is hard," Ogunjobi said.

But Ogunjobi saw teammates heading to college because of football and set his mind to do the same. His weight dropped to as low as 237 pounds and settled at around 270. He now plays at 305.

Ogunjobi went to college at UNC-Charlotte, about 25 minutes from the stadium the Carolina Panthers call home. Yet he never stepped foot in the stadium while in college, and never was at an NFL game until Thursday.

The UNC-Charlotte 49ers started their football program in 2013 -- Ogunjobi committed to a program that was just setting up in 2012 -- and joined Conference USA two years later.

Ogunjobi didn't miss a start in his four seasons at UNC-Charlotte, and was the first player ever drafted from the school. He graduated with a double major in computer science and biology.

Ogunjobi played as a backup Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints night and was credited unofficially with one assist.