As a star turn, such a role might rank slightly above doing an infomercial for the IRS. But Ogden's on-field performance this fall has elevated him to a possible top-five pick in the 1996 NFL draft and sent pro scouts and personnel types scampering for videotape of his play. "He's better than Tony Boselli," says San Diego Charger director of player personnel Billy Devaney, referring to the Southern Cal tackle who was taken with the second overall pick, by the Jacksonville Jaguars, last spring. "He doesn't have any holes in his game."
And Ogden opens holes large enough to drive an RV through, something he has been doing since his days at the tony St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., where he was The Washington Post's Player of the Year as a senior. At UCLA, as a true freshman in 1992, he made the difficult transition from right to left tackle. Flaws? "Sometimes I worry he might be too skinny," says Bruin coach Terry Donahue.
In Miami they still speak incredulously of the goal line block Ogden put on two Hurricanes in the Bruins' season-opening defeat of Miami. Pulling on a sweep, in one motion, he bowled over a linebacker while casually dismissing a defensive back with a thrust of his left arm. "I think some people noticed that one," says Ogden, in a rare burst of self-indulgence. It might not be Hollywood material, but there's no question that it'll play well in NFL war rooms.
When he arrived at Kansas State last January, Cody Lee Smith was ranked nationally behind only rising BYU star Steve Sarkisian among incoming junior college quarterbacks. In two seasons at Mount San Antonio J.C. in Walnut, Calif., Smith threw for 4,700 yards and 38 touchdowns, and now he was being hyped as the replacement for departed All-Big Eight quarterback Chad May. But days after he started classes, Smith started to have trouble holding down food and even water. Nine months later he has finally resumed eating regularly—albeit cautiously to avoid the vomiting that has left him 40 pounds lighter, with lesions on his esophagus, and confined to his parents' home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Smith's condition was originally diagnosed as gastroparesis, or weakness of the stomach muscles. Pills, shots and acupuncture did little to curtail it. "Imagine you're throwing up constantly for eight straight months, sometimes 35 times a day, and there's not a doctor who knows why," says Smith, who saw 15 physicians between January and August. "After a while you start wondering, Do I have cancer? Do I have AIDS?"
In August doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., diagnosed Rumination Syndrome, an involuntary contraction of the abdominal muscles which causes vomiting almost instantly upon ingestion of food. "The food would go in and almost bounce right back up," says Keith Lindor, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist who has treated Smith.
In the summer Smith returned to Kansas State to work out with the team. Although he continued to have difficulty keeping food down, team doctors devised a plan that they hoped would allow him to play. On game day Smith would be fed intravenously at a local hospital. At halftime, if necessary, he would be hooked up to an IV in the dressing room. But when Smith began experiencing severe nausea again during the first week of two-a-days, dropping 10 pounds in two days, the plan was scrapped, and he checked into the Mayo Clinic.
Smith, who will have two years of eligibility left if he is granted a medical redshirt, vows to return to K-State in mid-January for winter workouts. He is no longer taking medication and can keep food down using special breathing techniques. "Once the new year starts," he says, "I'll just put this miserable one behind me."
A Fond Farewell