When Indiana defensive end Adewale Ogunleye decided last winter to bypass NFL riches to spend another year with the Hoosiers, some fans thought he was nuts. The 6'5", 266-pound Ogunleye (pronounced oh-GOON-lee-uh) had set school records with 26� sacks and 53 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He was a projected first- or second-round draft choice. Why stick around Bloomington? "I wanted to go to a bowl game," he says.
But in the fourth quarter of the Hoosiers' 34-17 win over Northwestern on Oct. 9, Indiana defensive end Kemp Rasmussen hit Ogunleye from behind. As his fears congealed in the pain of that moment, Ogunleye looked up calmly at teammates Jason Czap and Devin Schaffer. "You know, guys," he said, "that might have been it. That might have been the one."
He had torn his ACL. Orthopedist James Andrews spent four hours repairing it in Birmingham last month, but Ogunleye will be sidelined for at least six months and will be nobody's first-round pick in April's NFL draft. Still, he says he has no regrets about passing up last year's draft: "If I had it to do over again, I would make the same decision." An insurance policy will pay him more than $1 million if the injury ends his career—a fraction of what he might have earned in the pros—but he doesn't plan to make a claim on the policy. "A lot of athletes have come back from worse," he says. "I will play again."
One bit of unfinished business nags at Ogunleye. "Only teams that go to bowl games get their pictures up in our stadium," he says. "I had one friend, Jabar Robinson, who played here for four years, and he doesn't have his picture up. I didn't want him to be forgotten. I don't want to be forgotten, either."