Stony Brook Football’s all-time sacks leader Victor Ochi made his return to New York after signing with the New York Jets’ practice squad on Sept. 13. The Baltimore Ravens had waived Ochi after the rookie spent the preseason with them.
“It felt good,” Ochi said of the signing. “I’m just glad to be playing football again.”
A former All-American, Ochi was slated to be selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. stated that Ochi would be the steal of the draft if selected in the third round or later. Instead, he joined the Ravens as an undrafted free agent.
“You’ve got to understand how the business is played,” he said. “Was I disappointed that I didn’t get drafted? Yeah. But at the end of the day though, there was a possibility I knew I wasn’t going to get drafted.”
“Coming from a small school isn’t easy, you know, to get your name out there like that,” he added. “That’s why you’ve got to do your best with the opportunity given.”
The Ravens tried converting the Valley Stream native from a defensive end to an outside linebacker. With a couple of All-Pro outside linebackers in Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, coupled with a lack of playing time in preseason, Ochi quickly became expendable. The Ravens cut him when it shed its roster from 75 players to the season standard 53.
“All I focus on is what I can control,” Ochi said. “At the end of the day, I knew I had options… I knew whatever was going to happen was meant to happen, so all I could focus on what I could do on the field.”
It was originally announced that Ochi had signed to the Jets on Sept. 12 via a report from the team. The next day, the Jets tweeted that they had not signed Ochi, but he was there for a visit. Newsday later reported that he was not signed due to failing a physical because of a shoulder injury sustained in his last game in a purple and black uniform.
“I kind of knew that was going to happen,” he said. “The way the rules are set up, you can’t play for another team if you’re not healthy and I knew I wasn’t healthy. So I knew there was going to be some issues going into it.”
As a member of an NFL practice squad, Ochi is technically a free agent. Any team may sign him at any point in the season, with the exception of teams playing the Jets in the immediate future.
“I’m doing the same thing that I’ve always been doing, just practicing against my opponent,” Ochi said. “My role hasn’t changed much, I’m just beating the man in front of me, just showing them what I can do in practice.”