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From family bakery to the NFL, Joe Ostman’s winning work ethic will help him thrive

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How does a job in a family-owner bakery prepare someone for life in the NFL? Well, early mornings, extensive preparation and a strong work ethic will surely help.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Kansas Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Central Michigan pass rusher Joe Ostman is in the process of interviewing for the biggest job of his life, that of an NFL player. But prior to the draft process, the only job Ostman ever held was in his family bakery.

If you’re looking for a job to prepare you for the work ethic required to be an NFL player, working in a bakery is actually a good one. Working at Mackinaw Bakery required Ostman to wake up at 4:30 a.m., or earlier to start preparing for the day ahead.

“Growing up that’s what I did,” Ostman said. “It’s the only place I’ve ever worked and I think it helped me a lot from a work ethic standpoint, It’s been in my family for three generations starting with my great grandpa. It’s been a big part of my life and I’m thankful for having worked there and what its taught me.”

Now, Ostman is hoping to translate that work ethic to the NFL after five years spent at Central Michigan. In his time in college, Ostman racked up 220 tackles (45.5 for a loss), 26.0 sacks, 3 passes defended, 4 fumble recoveries and 8 forced fumbles. He was a pass rushing machine, accumulating 13 sacks in 2017 alone, which ranked second in college football last season.

Ostman wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, but at his pro day the 6’2”, 254 pound prospect ran a 4.75 second 40-yard dash, completed 31 reps on the bench press, a 7.06 second 3-cone drill, a 10’2” broad jump and a 36.5” vertical jump. His bench press, broad jump, vertical jump and 3-cone drill would have ranked top 10 among all defensive linemen at the Combine.

He also took part in the East-West Shrine game in January, which was a great opportunity for Ostman, a small-school prospect, to get on the field with players who all possess the same goal: making it in the NFL.

“It’s an even playing field and you’re competing against other players who have had a lot of success in college,” Ostman said. “It was a great opportunity and I think it was really important.”

In the Shrine game, Ostman had six solo tackles (tied for the most on either team), 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss. His team (the west team) won by a score of 14-10.

As Ostman looks to prove his worth to NFL teams, one thing that gives him an advantage is a background in wrestling. Ostman was a three-time state champion in high school and though he no longer wrestles, he believes the skills he developed as a wrestler have helped his football career.

“I think wrestling helps a lot with football from a leverage standpoint and using your hand and mental toughness,” Ostman said. “It taught me some traits with that and work ethic and I think it’s helped me a lot.”

In making the transition to life in the NFL, Ostman is willing to play wherever coaches want him to lineup, which could mean a change from what he was used to in college.

“I think that I could play best at 3-4 outside linebacker, stand up, rushing off the edge,” he said. “I love to rush the passer, play defense, but really, I just love to play football and can play whatever anyone wants me to play. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to play and eventually start. I’ve been worked out at defensive line, linebacker and even fullback. I’ll let NFL teams decide where I play and I’ll do my best wherever they want me.”

The team that ends up with Ostman will be getting a player with a winning mentality. The Michigan native says it would be an honor to play for his hometown Lions, but he’s just looking for the team that believes in him.

“Any team that believes in me and wants to give me a shot I’ll be thankful for,” Ostman said. “Whatever team believes in me is where I want to play and I hope to make the most of it.