Patriots fourth round draft pick (123rd overall) Rich Ohrnberger addresses the New England media during his conference call on Sunday, April 26, 2009.
Q:What is your impression of being drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round?
RO:Right off the bat this is one of the most important days of my life. I couldn't be happier with the team, the city, [or] the round selection. Everything about it is perfect for me.
Q:What kind of contact did you have with the Patriots and did you work out for Coach Scarnecchia at all in the process?
RO:I had a solid connection with the Patriots throughout the getting to know you process that goes on following the Pro Day that I participated in at Penn State. I had visited Boston and was at Gillette Stadium and met with Coach Scarnecchia, Coach Belichick and a few of the other people there. It was great getting to know those people. The coaches – I enjoyed sitting down and talking [to them]. I never got a chance to work out with Coach Scarnecchia, but we did get a chance to do some work on the board and go over some of their offense stuff.
Q:It says in your biography that you are a lighthearted guy and that your natural gift of humor is something that is appreciat6ed in the huddle. Can you give us an example?
RO:I couldn't remember or cite specific examples, but I always like to keep things a little lighter than maybe the situation permitted at the time, because I feel like my teammates and I would play a little bit better when there was a higher level of relaxation, as opposed to getting tense and worked up. It was just something I did to break the tension and it worked. It worked for us. We had a lot of good years together, my offense and I, so it was a lot of fun. Other guys chipped in too, it wasn't just me, but I seem to get pegged as a comedian.
Q:Did you engage any opponents in chirping at all?
RO:Well, you talk sometimes. I think that's a part of it too, but with the level of concentration on our offensive line…you have to communicate well with your other teammates on the offensive line and get down what's all going to happen pre-snap. There wasn't too much back and forth at that point, but occasionally there was a little talking.
Q:How did you handle the tension level today?
RO:To be honest, I got up about 15 minutes before the draft started this morning and I spent the day with my family, my girlfriend and some of my close friends at the house. Obviously it was a tense day for me, but just like any other time I just tried to keep things light and not worry too much. To be honest, I never expected to get drafted as high as the fourth round, so it came as a very nice surprise when I got the call from Coach Belichick.
Q:There is some talk that you could play some center. Have you worked out at that position at all?
RO:During workouts I did snap the ball. I was the back-up center at my school. We had some depth issues at center this year after an injury, so I took plenty of snaps. Before practice and at practice I took snaps at center, so I'm proficient enough to play the position, but honestly when I get to New England I will do whatever they tell me.
Q:What has it been like to play for Coach [Joe] Paterno and in return how do you feel about the prospects of playing for Coach Belichick?
RO:It was terrific to play for Coach Paterno. He's obviously a very successful coach. I learned a lot of great lessons from him and this transition going to Coach Belichick…I've only really gotten to speak to him twice now, but from what I read about it, what I hear about him, anyone I speak to who knows him better than I do, and on those two occasions speaking to him, he seems like an incredibly intelligent man. I am excited to learn a lot from him.
Q:You mentioned you learned some lessons from Coach Paterno. Can you expand on that?
RO:Sure. As a player at Penn State, he emphasizes character in his players and he wants not only to make great football players, but to build fine young men. Being a part of that program and being a student under him, as a player, I feel like I became a better man as a result.
Q:How familiar were you with this organization before you came into contact with them this year? Seeing that you are a New York guy were you a Jets or Giants fan growing up?
RO:My knowledge of the organization is limited, but only in the fact that I understand it as a casual fan of the team. I actually have never had a favorite team in the NFL growing up. Jets and Giants – I know I am a New York, Long Island guy but I played lacrosse for much of my young life and I spent a lot of time with that. It's not as big of an impact as having been a New York fan my whole life and now going to New England. It's terrific going to a historic team like the New England Patriots and playing for a team that has had so much success in recent years. The prospect of being a part of this now is just…I'm speechless.
Q:You mentioned lacrosse. How big of a part of your life is it because that's something Coach Belichick has a love for?
RO:Actually we spoke about that briefly when we met the first time. I had stopped playing lacrosse my sophomore year of high school because I needed to start putting on some size to make a real run at a [football] career. But I played lacrosse all the way from the third grade to my sophomore year in high school. It was the first sport I ever really took seriously. I thought honestly that I was going to play college lacrosse for a long time, but I fell in love with football and everything changed.
Q:Did you have a favorite team in lacrosse that you hoped to play for in college?
RO:None in particular but it would have definitely been nice [to play at] Hofstra – I live in East Meadow and, Hofsta, I can walk to their stadium. That was definitely a place I would have liked to play. When I was younger I thought about it.
Q:So even as close as you were to the Jets you weren't a fan?
RO:As close as I was, honestly, I never followed football as a fan until I got into college and started playing college football. I obviously started watching a lot more football in general. I watched a lot of college games and as you passed through the years you start to recognize players names who are playing in the National Football League. I just sort of became a fan of people that I played with and the teams they played for.