Can Ivy League education prepare one for anything - including Falcons OTAs?

Atlanta Falcons rookie linebackers Richard Jarvis, left, and Foyesade Oluokun share a lighter moment at the close of another Falcons offseason practice session Tuesday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)
Caption
Atlanta Falcons rookie linebackers Richard Jarvis, left, and Foyesade Oluokun share a lighter moment at the close of another Falcons offseason practice session Tuesday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

You don’t necessarily expect to go to a Falcons offseason training session and join into a conversation with a pre-med biology degree-holder from Brown and a Yale economics grad.

Oh, there have been a few Ivy Leaguers who have well and truly risked their Intelligence Quotients by plowing into the NFL pile. To name a few, past and present: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard); running back Calvin Hill (Yale); safety Gary Fencik (Yale); tight end Steve Jordan (Brown); defensive end Marcellus Wiley (Columbia). Reach back far enough and you even encounter a couple of Hall of Famers – Chuck Bednarik (Penn) and Sid Luckman (Columbia).

» Photos: Matt Ryan, Falcons working at OTAs

But, still, we don’t get many of those types around here. Over 52 seasons, two Ivies have appeared in regular-season games for the Falcons, both mid-1980s vintage – offensive lineman Joe Pellegrini (Harvard) and quarterback Bob Holly (Princeton).

And, this team had never drafted from that brilliantly clear but largely unexplored pool until April, when they selected a fleet linebacker out of Yale named Foyesade – “call me Foye (Foy-YEAH)” – Oluokun.

Throw in the undrafted free agent linebacker from Brown, Richard – “call me Dewey” – Jarvis, and, suddenly a think tank has broken out over at Flowery Branch.

So, while there’s still a chance that these two rare subjects are on display here, let’s engage both in a little give and take. They are relative curiosities, visitors from parts unknown. Who knows when such an opportunity will present itself again, the opportunity to answer the question: What’s a couple of brainiacs like you doing in a place like this?

Q: OK, I won’t ask how you did in the 40-yard dash or the shuttle run. But which one of you guys did better on the Wonderlic (the standard intelligence test given by the NFL)?

Oluokun: Probably him, I'm not going to lie.

Q: You want to tell each other your scores?

Oluokun: I don't know my score.

Jarvis: I don't think it matters at all.

(But then, thinking more on the subject )I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter, but different people understand football differently. So, when you’re out here, you got somebody who got a five on the Wonderlic doing way better than somebody who got a 30 on the Wonderlic. It’s a different type of mental game.

Q: So, neither one of you have memorized the complete playbook by now?

Jarvis: We haven't seen the complete playbook yet. We're working our way up.

Q: You’ve been exposed to the NFL for a couple weeks now, what’s it been like for the both of you?

Jarvis: It's been amazing, honestly. I love meeting these guys. The jump (in ability) is serious; the jump was no joke. The competition out here is like no other, and I love it. I like every day waking up and grinding.

Oluokun: Just coming out here, competing with other guys, competing with yourself and just really trying to prove yourself every day. It's all a confidence thing. They chose you to be here for a reason, so play how you know how to play.

Q: Foye, you are the first Ivy League guy this team has drafted.

Oluokun: Oh, wow, I did not know that.

Q: You take any pride in that distinction?

Oluokun: If people want to look at it, I hope people can see my story and take the Ivy League route. I do take a little bit of pride in that. But for the most part I'm just here trying to improve myself as much as possible.

Q: (To Jarvis) Yale kind of handled you guys your time there (the Bulldogs were 3-1 against the Bears the last four years). Have you two had time to discuss that?

Oluokun: Ohhhh! It's what it was. I'm not going to try to embarrass him. They beat us once. He got his fair share.

Jarvis: Of course, we've discussed it. We compete. We're competitors.

Q: OK, but which school produced more U.S. presidents?

Oluokun: I'd guess mine.

Jarvis: Of course.

Q: Can you name the Yale alums who became president?

Oluokun: The Bushes. Clinton. Umm ...

SH: Gerald Ford. And William Howard Taft. I don't think Brown can claim any presidents.

Jarvis: No, but we have the most Super Bowl rings, though.

Oluokun: We had Calvin Hill. He didn't have any?" (One with the Cowboys).

Jarvis (leaning on two Super Bowl rings each for the Giants Zak DeOssie and New England's James Develin): We have the most.

Oluokun: We invented football.

Jarvis: Doesn't matter.

Q: When you were looking at colleges and deciding where to go, how much did football factor into your decision? At that stage of your life, how much were you thinking about preparing for a professional football career?

Oluokun: I always loved sports growing up. I really had no hobbies. I had always played sports. Dad was telling me, you're probably not going to be a pro, you ought to focus on your education. That was kind of my mindset: Get my education and I got to play sports on top of that. As the seasons went on, people told me I had a shot and that's what I wanted to do my whole life, play sports. That kept the dream alive there.

Q: Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, dad.

Oluokun: I have no regrets. That's the best of both worlds there. You go get a great education and on top of that I kept my mind on sports. I can't be mad at him.

Jarvis: I was working off the broken-leg-rule: If I broke my leg and could never play again, what am I going to do? So that's what helped pick my college. I wanted to go somewhere if I didn't have a chance to continue my athletic career I would be OK with where I finished.

Q: So, finish the sentence: If I didn’t have this chance to play football, I would be ...

Oluokun: Something in finance. This fifth year, I had had the spring off and I've been focused on football. Before, I had internships as an analyst in different financial atmospheres.

Jarvis: Med school. But I'm really focused on this right now. I don't want to think about what's after that yet.

Q: Do both of you find that going to an Ivy League school, you have to explain your love of football, or explain why you want to do this when you could have other pursuits. And almost, I don’t want to say apologize for your intelligence. But I can’t think of a better word, I guess because I didn’t go to an Ivy League school.

Jarvis: I don't feel that at all. I don't feel apologetic for the intelligence I have. I think I've had a great connection with all the guys I've met. Coaches, too.

As far as explaining, this is the best job in the world, right?

Oluokun: Yeah, every coach during my visits and stuff asked why are you choosing this over other stuff. Do you love the game? And I say where we went to school, we didn't have scholarships (an Ivy League rule.)

We were technically playing for fun. Every time we went onto the field to try our hardest, it wasn’t what kept us in school. Everything was for the love of the game.

Then we come out here and they ask why are you playing the game? It’s what I wanted to do my whole life. This is what I wanted to do for a profession. Do I really want to go back to the office?

Jarvis: I went to the Senior Bowl, and we had numerous interviews, and that question (about how seriously he took football) came up so many times. It's the best job in the world. I've been doing in college for five years just out of love for it. Why not continue playing if I can?

Q: When you meet guys here at camp and inevitably the conversation turns to where did you go to school, what’s the reaction you get?

Oluokun: Some guys are a little surprised. Well, a lot of guys are surprised. But I don't hold myself above anybody because of where I went to school. I'm just a regular dude at the end of the day just like them trying to compete for a spot on the team.

Jarvis: We're smart guys, but I don't know what's going on out on the field, so I don't consider myself smart at all.

Q: So, you’re as confused as every other rookie?

Jarvis: I might be more confused than anybody else.

Q: You’ve got an Ivy League degree in hand. You have great options. Your family has to be proud, so what are your families’ reactions to pursuing football?

Jarvis: They love it.

Oluokun: Yeah, they love it. It's a job. They want me to be successful, and be successful at this job.

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