With the Chargers rookie minicamp set for this Friday and Saturday (May 13-14), let's take a look back at what some of the Bolts' draft picks had to say after they were selected.
Getting the call to join the Chargers
As the NFL Draft gets into the rounds on Days 2 and 3, a lot of prospects are sitting, waiting patiently for one phone call that will change their lives. They don't know when the call will happen or where it's coming from, but all they know is they have to be ready.
The Chargers dialed up the phone seven times after selecting first round pick Zion Johnson to let each player know they were now a part of the organization. Chargers third-round pick JT Woods out of Baylor talked about the moment he 'got the call' on Day 2 of the draft and the emotions going through his mind in that moment.
"It was just an amazing moment for me," Woods said. "I was actually in the kitchen just kind of chilling, watching the draft, when I got the call, so I was already around a lot of my family. My best friend was sitting right next to me, so I showed him the phone. He just looked at me and said, 'We're going to California.' It was just an amazing moment."
Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller talked about how grateful he was for the opportunity to join the Bolts just moments after he was selected in the fourth round.
"It's just a blessing," Spiller said. "I'm ready to work. Grateful for the opportunity that they gave me. The Chargers are a great team, they have a great organization over there, so I'm just ready to get down there and get ready to work."
UCLA defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia, who goes from playing at the Rose Bowl on Saturdays to SoFi Stadium on Sundays, explained how he felt good about the Bolts after his visit.
"To be honest with you, I always knew that I was going to the Chargers," Ogbonnia said. "— ever since I visited them, I had a feeling that I was going there. I kind of manifested it, in a way — almost tried not to jinx myself, but it ended up happening and I'm forever grateful for it."
'All-around back' and versatile National Champion added on offense
In the fourth and sixth rounds of the draft, the Chargers elected to add key pieces to the offensive side of the ball. First up was Spiller who explained he wears number 28 because of the influence that running back Adrian Peterson has had on his game.
Spiller, who had 1,200 scrimmage yards during his final season at A&M, described his style of play.
"I would describe myself as an all-around back," Spiller said. "I feel like I can do it all; run, catch, and blocking, as well. So, just going in and improving on those things and getting to the next level to showcase what I can do."
In the sixth round, the Bolts added offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, who was a key part of Georgia's National Championship team in 2022. Salyer not only went up against elite talent in the SEC, but on his own team as well, as Georgia had 15 players drafted in 2022 with a record five defenders selected in the first round alone. Salyer talked about his ability to play practically anywhere on the offensive line.
"There would be days when guys would get injured and I was always the swing man," Salyer said. "I started at left tackle, that's what I played, but if we had a right guard go down, like in the National Championship Game, I would practice the rest of the day at right guard, just until he came back healthy. If we had a guy go down at left guard, same thing. We had a backup center, so I didn't have to do that as much in that situation. Left guard, right guard, right tackle — that was kind of my thing, I was kind of the swing man in those positions."
Heartbreak kid heads to LA, Ogbonnia continues his career in SoCal
In the third and fifth rounds, the Chargers selected two players on defense in Woods and Ogbonnia. Woods, who led the Big 12 with six interceptions in 2021, earned the nickname the "heartbreak kid" and discussed where it originated.
"It was kind of something that built up through a fall camp that we had going into the 2019 season," Woods said. "Me and another DB, [Texans S] Grayland Arnold [Jr.], who is currently on the Houston Texans, had a bunch of interceptions in camp. It was just kind of a joke that I'm breaking the hearts of the quarterbacks, so the name, 'HBK,' kind of came about when [former Baylor Associate Head Coach - Outside Linebackers] Coach Joey McGuire first started calling me that name, then is just kind of grew into something a lot bigger than what it was at the time."
Ogbonnia, who was also on the UCLA track and field team throwing shotput, talked about what he thinks the Chargers liked about his game the most.
"I think a big thing is my abilities at the point of attack," Ogbonnia said. "My ability to really knock guys back, get penetration, re-set the line of scrimmage, stop the run. Even in the pass, I'm able to push back the pocket and get vertical pressure up the middle. Those are things that they ended up mentioning and those are my strengths."
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