Former Ravens offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden took his place among the giants of the game when he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 3. The following is an excerpt of "Ogden And His Coaches," an article by Bill Wagner featured in "Jonathan Ogden: Baltimore's First Raven," a Hall of Fame commemorative magazine on sale now at PressBoxOnline.com.
David Mohler had just started his first season as offensive line coach at St. Albans when he met a precocious sophomore whose extraordinary size and remarkable raw talent blew him away. It was August 1989, and Mohler was so awestruck that he made a bold prediction.
"I went home and told my mother that I had just met a guy who is going to be one of the greatest offensive linemen in football history," Mohler said.
Mohler was referring to Jonathan Ogden, who was already about 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds as a sophomore at St. Albans, a prestigious private school on Wisconsin Avenue in northwest Washington, D.C.
"Almost anybody could have coached Jonathan and it would have turned out well," Mohler said. "Jonathan was absolutely enormous, and his footwork was amazing. He was very intelligent and extremely coachable. You only needed to teach Jonathan a technique once and he would master it. He was a dominant player from day one."
Mohler is a St. Albans graduate who played offensive line at the University of North Carolina, where he had the good fortune of playing alongside Harris Barton, the Atlantic Coast Conference lineman of the year and a first-team All-American in 1986. Barton became a first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, playing 12 years in the NFL and starting on three Super Bowl teams.
"What Harris was doing as a fifth-year senior at Carolina, Jonathan was doing as a 10th-grader at St. Albans," Mohler said.
Ogden said he felt fortunate to have been coached by a former Division I offensive lineman during his three seasons on the St. Albans varsity. North Carolina offensive line coach Bill Stewart had trained Mohler well in fundamentals, and Mohler passed that along to Ogden.
"Dave Mohler brought college-level technique to me," Ogden said. "Dave was really good at teaching the basics – stay low, bend your knees, hands inside, don't let your feet get too close. … He was the one who started me with all those things that were the foundation for success at my position."
Mohler went on to serve as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame and remembered reviewing film in preparation for a game against USC. The Trojans had the nation's top pass rusher in Willie McGinest, but it certainly did not look that way when he went against UCLA's Ogden.
"We watched clip after clip of McGinest just embarrassing offensive linemen left and right," Mohler said. "It was sack after sack after sack. Then we put on the UCLA tape and Jonathan just owned him. McGinest tried every move he had, and never got any penetration."
UCLA was a perennial powerhouse under coach Terry Donahue, who compiled a 151-74-8 record at the school from 1976-95. Donahue said recruiting coordinator Bill Rees had discovered Ogden and had taken about five trips to D.C. to woo him. Donahue remembered reviewing film, meeting Ogden and authorizing a scholarship offer.
"It took about five minutes to make that decision," Donahue said. "That was a no-brainer. Jonathan was just so big and so athletic. On top of that, he was very competitive and very bright."
On the day Ogden committed, Donahue knew that UCLA had landed an offensive lineman the caliber of those that had played for his archrival.
"USC had guys like Anthony Muñoz, Tony Boselli and Bruce Matthews that mauled us," Donahue said, "and I remember thinking that now we finally had someone that could dominate like that."