O’Drobinak comes full circle

When the 2007 football season began, Sean O’Drobinak was a converted tight end who was learning to play on the defensive line. As the regular season came to an end, O’Drobinak was seen by many of his teammates as a great leader.

The fifth-year senior didn’t expect to become a leader so quickly. He knew he had to learn how to play defense first.

“I didn’t exactly know what to do,” O’Drobinak said. “I just had to become a quick learner.”

O’Drobinak became an anchor on the defensive line. He made 34 tackles on the season. His agility and length were strengths. He deflected three passes and made 2.5 tackles for a loss.

But it was his leadership that made O’Drobinak valuable to his teammates.

“When we named him a captain late in the season, he really stepped it up and it just shows you how much quality that kid has,” said BG coach Gregg Brandon.

Before he was named captain, O’Drobinak hadn’t envisioned himself as a leader.

“I had no idea,” he said.

But once he got used to playing defense, O’Drobinak was able to emerge in a vocal role. He also led by example.

“Usually leaders are born over time,” he said. “I found myself becoming a leader more and more every day. You find yourself doing more and more right.”

The coaching staff was very pleased with how well O’Drobinak adjusted.

“He was a little apprehensive, but once he jumped in there, he never looked back,” Brandon said. “He’s done a great job learning that position.”

It’s always difficult for a player to switch positions. But in O’Drobinak’s case, the change came the summer before his senior year. That especially brought praise from his teammates.

“He’s a big reason our defense was able to step it up when he returned,” said center Kory Lichtensteiger. “He made the best of the opportunity he was given.”

O’Drobinak hyper-extended his elbow during the Falcons’ 47-14 loss to Miami on Oct. 13. He tried to finish the game but the lack of feeling in his arm made him less efficient.

“Being a football player, I think everyone’s kind of got a hard nose,” he said. “Everyone wants to be in the game.”

O’Drobinak had to make a decision though. He took himself out of the game.

“You feel like you owe it to the other 10 guys out there,” he said. “Until your backup can perform better than you, you want to be out there.”

He missed the following game, a 31-20 win at Kent. But after that, he was cleared to play and determined not to miss any more time.

“There’s a difference between being injured and being hurt,” O’Drobinak said. “I wasn’t going to let a dislocation keep me out of the game.”

O’Drobinak and the Falcons have earned another game by winning the final four games of the season. They’ll play Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 6. He and the rest of the senior class are ecstatic about playing another game together.

“We didn’t want to be that team, sitting in our houses away from each other,” he said. “We wanted to go bowling somewhere.”