By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As the final seconds ticked away in his college football career Dec. 2, George Odum wasn’t thinking about the NFL.
The former Millington Trojan standout just played his last home game in Conway, Ark., in Estes Stadium. The New Hampshire Wildcats just eliminated Odum’s Central Arkansas Bears 21-15 in the second round of the playoffs.
“I was mad because we were supposed to win that game,” Odum acknowledged. “I was thinking about what I could have done better to help us win. I just packed up my stuff. I didn’t even speak to anybody.”
It took Odum a moment to get over his stellar collegiate career coming to an early end. Then friends, teammates, coaches and family got his mind back on track about his football future.
Odum started working toward April and the 2018 NFL Draft which was held in Dallas. Although Odum didn’t hear his name called over the weekend, he was on enough NFL teams’ radars drawing plenty of interest in the rookie free agent pool.
With a few offers on the table, Odum choose the Indianapolis Colts signing with the AFC South club.
“I went ahead and picked the Colts,” Odum said. “My agent knows the two special teams coaches really well. And I looked at the roster and saw that they didn’t draft any safeties. They hardly have any DB’s. I got a chance to play safety for them. I have a real good chance to make the roster.”
Odum is on the doorstep of being an NFL player after humble beginnings in the Millington area. When he attended Millington Central High School he was a two-sport standout in football and track. Before Odum graduated in 2013, he ran in the Class 3A State Track meet two years in a row.
On the gridiron, he was a combination of speed and strength racking up several awards and honors. He was named to the 2012 Tennessee vs. Kentucky National Guard All-Star Game and 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game.
But major colleges didn’t know if he was an undersize linebacker or oversized defensive back. Central Arkansas signed the Millington talent and Odum earned a spot in the secondary of the bears as a freshman beginning a decorated career. The 6’2 athlete was named to the Southland Conference first team in 2016. Odum was the Southland’s 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.
Despite the solid resume’, Odum knew his journey to the NFL would be challenging. After hooking up with the Corey Taylor Sports Performance in Louisville, Ky., for training, Odum headed to Dallas for a showcase to get his name out there in NFL circles.
Then it was time to head to Daytona, Fla., for the SPIRAL Tropical Bowl. The event was the FBS Division I level College Football All-Star Game played in Daytona Beach in mid January. The SPIRAL Tropical Bowl showcases the top college football seniors to NFL scouts and GM’s who travel from around the country to the event. The weekend was focused on scouting, teaching, and football.
“First day I did one-on-ones,” Odum recalled. “I did OK and I talked to several teams. The second day I had a chance to play corner locking people up. I saw more people talking, I knew then I got a shot.”
Word started to spread about Odum’s stellar special teams stats like 73 tackles. The Trojan talked to Seattle, L.A. Chargers, L.A. Rams and many more teams. Then even the Super Bowl championship Philadelphia Eagles reached out to him about special teams. Odum had a 40-minute Facetime chat with the Cincinnati Bengals.
As the Draft approached, several teams had Odum’s cell phone information. He had a chance to workout for one of the NFL’s best teams the New England Patriots and an NFL team looking to rebound in the Cleveland Browns.
As pick after pick was made Thursday through Saturday, Odum got calls and text message from teams like the Arizona Cardinals expressing interest. But his name was not called from the podium in Dallas.
But as a free agent, Odum had the chance to pick his team and best situation.
Now Odum will spend his summer with the Colts trying to become the latest Millington Trojan to reach the NFL joining greats like Marlon Barnes, Tyrone Calico, Ahmaad Galloway and Alan Cross.
Odum reflected on five years ago when he first touched the practice field at Central Arkansas. He recalled how fast the game was and how different it was from high school. Then it quickly slowed down for him.
Prior to his senior season, he appeared in 36 games, making 27 starts. In that stretch he had five forced fumbles and was tied for third with three blocked kicks. He was ranked sixth in school history with 145 career solo tackles. Odum totaled 230 tackles, including 21 for loss and 2.5 sacks coming into 2017.
He’s likely NFL position will be in the secondary. In his first three years at Central Arkansas, Odum had broken up 11 passes, recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes taking one back to the house.
In his senior campaign, Odum was vital to the Bears winning 10 games in a row in dominate fashion. He has won on every level leading the Trojans to the second round of the playoffs his senior year.
Odum’s hard work for Millington gained him recognition around Flag City.
“I remember riding down and coming down old Navy Road,” he said. “We slowed down and a woman noticed me and pointed at me. She said, ‘You’re George Odum. He’s going to be great someday.” I will never forget that.”
Odum said he has come this far with the support of Millington and he wants to make them proud by being the next Trojan in the NFL.
In order to achieve that goal, Odum is ready to be the underdog once again this summer.
“Nobody is my friend will be my mindset,” he concluded. “I have to fight for my own. Everybody is getting it because I was not drafted. I have to do what I did before in college.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.