A Boyhood Dream: St. Ignace’s Ostman Preps for Draft Day

ST. IGNACE – The dream of every young boy from the moment they strap on a helmet and pads for the first time is to one day hear their name called on draft day.

St. Ignace graduate and Central Michigan senior Joe Ostman is living that dream.

A 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end, Ostman has made the most of his only Division I opportunity.

Ostman starred as a tight end and linebacker at St. Ignace.

“For as long as I can remember, that’s been the one thing, my biggest aspiration that I wanted to accomplish in life since I was a little kid,” Ostman said. “Watching the NFL every Sunday, College GameDay every Saturday morning, it’s always been what I’ve wanted to accomplish, what I’ve worked towards. All the way going back to elementary and middle school, I can remember working out with hopes in the back of my mind of wanting to go the NFL. I always knew it would be tough, it’s a long shot, but hard work can take you a long way. It’s just about how bad you want something, and how much you’re willing to put in.”Projected to go in the fifth or sixth round, Ostman has spoken to or worked out for a majority of NFL teams.

Ostman set career marks as a senior in tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (13) while tallying 60 tackles and three forced fumbles.

“I’ve heard from I’d say about most teams up to this point, whether it was meeting with them at the East/West Shrine game or just them calling and seeing what my draft day cell phone number is and just checking on my health and everything,” Ostman said. “I took a couple visits to team facilities post pro-day, between March 15 and now. I flew out to Oakland, the Oakland Raiders facility and they did a physical on me. I was able to meet and have lunch with Jon Gruden and met some of the coaches and the general manager, Reggie McKenzie, and just see what they view me as and how they view me within the organization. I also flew out to the Los Angeles Rams facility and I met the general manager Les Snead and the defensive coordinator Coach Wade Phillips and many others, the defensive line, the linebacker coach.It was a great experience being out there and seeing NFL facilities up close and personal and having that opportunity was a great feeling.”

A tight end and linebacker at St. Ignace, Ostman saw immediate playing time as a true freshman in Mt. Pleasant, appearing in all 12 games and recording 20 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. As a sophomore, Ostman began turning heads with a 60-tackle performance and three sacks.

After overcoming an injury and taking a medical redshirt in 2015, Ostman improved his totals to 69 tackles and eight sacks as a junior before solidifying his draft stock as a senior by setting career marks in tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (13) while tallying 60 tackles and three forced fumbles.

Ostman won three MHSAA Division 4 individual wrestling state titles from 2011-13.

“There’s a lot of emotions going on in my head right now,” Ostman said. “Just the last 15 years of work, a lifetime of work, kind of leading up to this point, where the dream can eventually come true. Nothing’s guaranteed yet, but I just feel excitement, I feel thankful, I feel very blessed.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling, overwhelming at times, but I don’t know, I’ve just kind of tried to lay low, just take it day by day, and continue to do what I’ve done my whole life, just trying to work hard and put my best foot forward and be the best player that I can be, and whatever happens, I’ll be thankful.”

A defensive end for Central Michigan, Ostman figures to appear as a linebacker in the NFL.

A prolific athlete, Ostman has demonstrated his strength and agility over the years on both the gridiron and wrestling mat. In addition to holding a slew of school records, Ostman captured three MHSAA Division 4 individual state championships at St. Ignace, winning the 189-pound class as a sophomore in 2011 and following that up with back-to-back titles at 215 as a junior and senior.

“Wrestling did a lot for my football career. I don’t know if I would be near the player I am today without wrestling,” he said. “From a physical aspect, wrestling teaches a lot about leverage, hard work, kind of handwork, violent hands on the d-line, and it’s really translated well. Also from a mental aspect, it teaches a lot about mental toughness and just being able to push things that don’t feel comfortable. It’s been a great sport and I miss it a lot.

“I was looking at some old photos from my wrestling days, high school football days back at LaSalle, and it was a great experience. I loved high school, all my friends that I met, and the people I interacted with and coaches that had influences on me throughout high school, and I’m thankful for that. It did a lot in getting me to the point that I’m at today.”

Ostman is relishing in the thought of not only representing CMU come draft day but the St. Ignace community and the entire Upper Peninsula.

St. Ignace twice reached the MHSAA Division 8 state semifinals during Ostman’s time.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s one of the main things that drives me, making my hometown and my family proud, trying to represent St. Ignace in a great way and doing my best to show what kind of talent is in the U.P. and small schools around the state.

“It’s been an awesome journey. I’ve loved every second of it. Just the entire process. It’s hard work but I really enjoy working out and playing football and everything about it. I fell in love with it and it’s something that I really enjoy doing. It’s a blessing.”

As per his annual tradition, Ostman will be watching the draft this weekend – only this time he’ll be surrounded by family and loved ones in eager anticipation of hearing his name called.

“I’m excited, a little anxious but just taking it day by day and laying low for now and just hoping for the best and we’ll see what happens.

“It’s a surreal feeling. Just kind of hearing from teams each day, you kind of hear from someone knew and get different questions asked and it’s just kind of crazy because it’s something you’ve been working for so long, and I’m thankful for the opportunity and I’m ready to see what happens.”