JONESBORO -- Over the savory sizzle of steak and lobster tail, Green Bay Packers linebacker Chris Odom offered some wisdom to his pass-rush protege.
It was Tuesday night at the LongHorn Steakhouse on Red Wolf Boulevard, a few miles away from where senior defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones recorded a season-high 2½ sacks in Arkansas State University's 47-3 home victory over Louisiana-Lafayette several days earlier.
ARKANSAS STATE at
NEW MEXICO STATE
WHEN Saturday, 7 p.m.
WHERE Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, N.M.
RECORDS Arkansas State 4-2, 3-0 Sun Belt; New Mexico State 3-4, 1-2
TV FOX Sports Southwest Plus
ASU Coach Blake Anderson called Rolland-Jones' effort -- which included a sack fumble that was returned for a touchdown -- "maybe the best game of his career," and the Sun Belt Conference named Rolland-Jones its Co-Defensive Player of the Week.
Odom stopped by Jonesboro during Green Bay's bye week to make sure his former teammate "keeps his head on straight."
"He's been good, mentoring me," said Rolland-Jones, who recorded 13 sacks playing opposite of Odom last season. "Just letting me know how things go up there."
"I'm making sure he doesn't lose focus of the big picture," Odom said.
Odom understands the big picture.
Undrafted in April, the 6-4, 262-pound Odom signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers signed him after the Falcons cut him Sept. 2.
Now, with two tackles, Odom has carved out a professional career after showing a snapshot of promise in college.
"I'm a one-year breakout," said Odom, who had 12½ sacks his senior season after recording no sacks during his junior season. "But I still had an opportunity. If anything, that just showed Ja'Von that you don't need all those opportunities to get to where I am. All you need is to take advantage of each and every one. And he's had more opportunities than me, so I'm just making sure that he capitalizes on each one so he makes the best of it. It's only going to help him if he does that, and it will go a long way."
Odom said the 6-2, 241-pound Rolland-Jones has been "producing since he hit the field" and that "it's inspiring" that he is now eight sacks away from the all-time NCAA sack record, held by Arizona State's Terrell Suggs.
Suggs, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, will play against Green Bay and Odom on Nov. 19.
"It's not common for guys to go to the next level from here," said Odom, who was headed to Arlington, Texas, to visit family. "When I was here, it was weird that you saw guys from the next level come back and push others to go to the next level. So, I just want to make sure I do my part to make sure that I push the guys every year who have the opportunity."
Odom is one of five ASU alums in the NFL, but not one has been drafted since defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers was selected by the San Diego Chargers, who now reside in Los Angeles, in 2014.
Last year, Rolland-Jones became the second defensive player in Sun Belt history to be named the league's Player of the Year. Odom said Rolland-Jones could become the 53rd ASU player to be drafted.
"I believe so -- if he keeps it up, I believe someone will give him a shot," Odom said. "I can see a different demeanor in him this year. He wants it bad, because he saw his potential last season. He knows what he's capable of being."
Tonight, as ASU (4-2, 3-0 Sun Belt) plays at New Mexico State (3-4, 1-2), Rolland-Jones is facing a program that he's recorded a sack against all three times he's played against it.
Last season, he recorded three sacks in the Red Wolves' 41-22 victory over the Aggies.
This time, New Mexico State is led by the nation's third leading passer, Tyler Rogers (356.4 yards per game).
"They've got a guy that can throw the ball all over the place," said Rolland-Jones, who leads the Sun Belt and is 11th in the FBS with 5½ sacks. "He's a great quarterback."
Over Tuesday night's dinner, Rolland-Jones told Odom he would return the favor one day.
"I told him, first time I get my lil' check, I'm gonna take him out," he said. "We made that deal."
Sports on 10/28/2017
Print Headline: Former ASU teammates share dinner, NFL drive