Chris Odom is a Citizen of The Grind, his passport stamped with the official city seals of Arlington, Jonesboro, Atlanta, Green Bay, Calgary and many, many more. Recruited by Bryan Harsin’s staff, Odom arrived to the Arkansas State Red Wolves in 2013 a two-star prospect. He would produce 15 career sacks – good for 25th all time in the Sun Belt. His five career blocked kicks are the second most in Red Wolves’ history.
Grinders don’t always always outshine the stars. Odom happened to play with some of the most prolific defenders in Arkansas State history, sharing gridiron honors with tackle-machine Chris Stone and two-time SBC Player of the Year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones. It wasn’t that Odom lacked appreciation – he left the Sun Belt on the conference First Team. Red Wolves fans loved him. He was just a humble citizen of The Grind who did his job with a workman’s dedication to craft.
Rated the 41st best defensive end in the 2017 NFL Draft by NFLDraftScout.com, Odom would not hear his name called. He signed an NDFA contract with Atlanta, was picked up by Green Bay, recorded 2.5 sacks with the Salt Lake Stallions, rejoined Atlanta before finally landing with the Washington Football Team where recorded 10 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble in only 47 defensive snaps.
It wasn’t enough Grind. Odom was released by Washington and then got released by the Calgary Stampeders before getting drafted by the Houston Gamblers with the 4th pick of the 2nd round of the 2022 USFL Draft. Houston appeared to be yet another pitstop on Odom’s low-visibility tour of The Grind, which was only becoming more difficult.
Odom has a young daughter named Cassie who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, a uniquely terrible disease that makes bones so fragile that they can be broken by the most minor of tasks. “She’s my biggest ‘why’ on why I play now,” Odom told NBC Sports. It seems fitting. Grinders gotta Grind, and grinding requires motivation. Putting on the cleats for a daughter born behind the eight ball is as noble as it gets.
The Grind, just this once, gave back to Chris Odom. In 2020, Odom tallied 12.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 4 blocked field goals,41 tackles, 8 TFL, and 1 pass deflection which earned him USFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. Odom proved that with enough grind, you can shine, perhaps brightly enough to earn yet another shot at the NFL.
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CORRECTION: An early version of this post misidentified Chris Odom. We’re running a thorough investigation, trial and execution.