Friday, June 19, 2009

Great Sports Name Hall of Fame Nominee - Onome Ojo

It's pronounced "Ah-Nah-May Oh-Jo."

Onome Ojo is more than a really tall (6'4") guy with speed and a funny name. He's also an interesting story, and one which, for once, explains why a player on this list never made it big without being his own fault.

Onome grew up in San Francisco, the son of a doctor who had run track in Nigeria. Having treated a lot of injuries, Dr. Ojo didn't want to see his son ever join a football team. But being 6'5" with speed and huge hands, it's understandable that Ojo would want to play the same game as his idol, Jerry Rice. So though Ojo didn't even play the game of football in high school, he wanted to play in college at UC Davis if he could. Only thing was that Ojo was shy. So he asked the wife of UC Davis Coach Bob Biggs, at church, as to whether he could try to walk on. She said give it a shot, he did, and the rest was history. His final year he caught 33 passes for 865 yards and 11 TDs, a stunning 26 yards per catch. So he was pretty good. And he was on the dean's list and was married, so he had the responsibility that guys like Ben Gay and Maurice Clarett didn't. So sky seemed the limit for Onome.

Only problem was that he was raw. And so he slipped down the 2001 draft board to the Saints, who picked him with the 22nd pick of round 5. An early Marques Colston of sorts, the Saints knew that if Ojo could stay injury free and hone his skills, then he would be huge.

Only he didn't. His first year he played mostly on the practice squad and dealt with some injuries. A year later he was cut by the Buccaneers, several months later by the Chargers, and by 2004, after a last tryout with the 49ers, he was out of football. Other than a few games in NFL Europe when he was a member of the Saints, Ojo never caught a pass in professional football.

Ojo did, however, find work in the sports industry. Somehow he ended up getting into voice acting for ESPN video games, and he's been part of the "additional audio player voices" for games like NFL 2K5 and ESPN 2K7 Basketball. Not quite the involvment in sports that he set out for, but not too shabby all the rest. So good to hear Ojo is doing well for himself, and here's to hoping that he'll do just as well when it comes to ballot 2 of the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame.

To see the best sports names of all time, visit the Truly Great Names page.
To see some good sports names that were voted out, visit the Good Names page.
To see the current voting ballot, visit the Ballot page.

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