WESTFIELD, Ind. - Looking back at last year's training camp, one of the most talked about players was then-rookie tight end, Drew Ogletree.
A sixth-round pick out of Youngstown State, Ogletree was impressing his coaches and teammates alike with his undeniable big-play ability.
Just as it seemed that he had not only ensured a spot on the roster, but the chance to see significant reps in the regular season, things came crashing down when he suffered a torn ACL during a joint practice with the Detroit Lions.
Now nearly a year later, Ogletree is back on the practice field and excited to make up for lost time.
"It was a long journey,' Ogletree said. 'I never thought my rookie year I'd be sitting out. But, you know, being back on the field with the guys,- even our first day just going through warmup lines, I was lowkey getting a little emotional. It kind of hit me that I was really back and that I get to play with the guys. So, I felt amazing."
For fellow tight end Mo Alie-Cox, the feeling was mutual since Ogletree's personality had been a positive presence in the tight end room.
"I am super excited to have him back," Alie-Cox said. "The thing about Drew is he's a hard worker, but my favorite thing about him is his energy – it's contagious. After every play, he's dapping everybody up, hyping everybody up. His energy is contagious. He's always building up our confidence and different things like that even when he's not in. So, I'm just excited to have that energy back and see how he responds from that injury."
Through the first week of training camp practices, it seems that he has been responding very well.
So much so that Ogletree said that he is much better than he was the last time he was on the field.
"I feel like I'm even better than I was last year mentally and physically," Ogletree said. "I just want to show that I'm one of the best. I feel personally, if you don't think that you're one of the best then there's something wrong with your mental."
That confidence comes from all of the work he did to make his way back onto the field.
During the offseason, Ogletree could often times be found working out in the facility.
Even though that meant that he may not have gotten as much time off as he would have liked, Ogletree said that he knew that all of his hard work would pay off.
"I didn't take a vacation," Ogletree said. "I just stayed in the building and worked. I knew that what's done in the dark will always come to light. So, I knew that the grind and the work that I put in this offseason is gonna come out and show right now and then during the season."
When Ogletree did get out of the facility, he spent much of his volunteering. Whether that be hosting his own football camp in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio or working with his friend Matt Klein's nonprofit organization, 'Just a Pair of Shoes', Ogletree was determined to give back to his community.
He even participated in teammate Quenton Nelson's charity softball game earlier this month.
For Ogletree, the event not only allowed him the chance to contribute to a good cause but also build tighter bonds with his teammates.
"I had missed out on everything [last season]," Ogletree said. "So, Quenton's game was the first time I actually got to be around the guys, and they could see me run and have fun. It was my first time being on a field with the guys, it was amazing."
Now that his teammates have gotten a glimpse of who he is, Ogletree's goal is to show that to the new members of the Colts' coaching staff.
No matter if that's by bringing in big catches or always asking questions, Ogletree said that he is always trying to evolve his game.
"I see myself as a ball of clay still," Ogletree said. "Even when I'm getting into year five or six, I still want to see myself as a ball of clay and be a coachable player because I don't know everything. There's a lot of people out there that know more than me and they're better than me at what they do. So, I'm like, 'Let me soak up all that knowledge.' I just want to be that ball of clay and whatever they need me to do, I can do it."