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Ruke Orhorhoro looking forward to learning 'all the tips, tricks' from fellow defensive tackles Grady Jarrett, David Onyemata

The Falcons rookie is eager to team up with Jarrett, specifically. He is someone former coach Dabo Swinney spoke about frequently during Orhorhoro's Clemson days. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Ruke Orhorhoro can't escape Grady Jarrett.

Not that he wants to.

The 22-year-old rookie actually can't wait to finally team up with the 31-year-old veteran. They each attended Clemson University, but their years as a Tiger never overlapped. They're both Atlanta Falcons defensive tackles now, with the 2024 offseason program in progress.

"I heard Grady's name like 100 times at Clemson," Orhorhoro said Friday at Falcons rookie minicamp. "That's all coach (Dabo) Swinney talked about. Grady, Grady, Grady, Grady.

"I'd watch his tape at Clemson, and I'm like OK, I see why he's talking about him. Then, I'd watch his tape here and still talking about him."


Ever since the Falcons selected Orhorhoro with the No. 35 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Orhorhoro has been eager to learn from Jarrett. Understandably so.

Jarrett was a 2015 fifth-round pick for the Falcons – and has made the most of his years in Atlanta. In his first eight seasons, he missed only three games. Last season was an outlier due to a Week 8 knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the schedule.

Ruke Orhorhoro during the 2024 Rookie Minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Friday, May 10, 2024. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

And then there's another understandable name Orhorhoro is eager to learn from: David Onyemata, also 31 years old.

"I bet you they know all the tips, tricks that I need," Orhorhoro said. "I'm going to be right next to their heads, just trying to soak up all the knowledge they've got."

Onyemata was originally a 2016 fourth-round pick for the New Orleans Saints. He joined the Falcons last offseason as a free agent and then started all 14 games in which he played.

These two starters, who Orhorhoro called "real-deal dudes," combine for 17 years of NFL experience. Jarrett is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, with 34 sacks on his resume. Onyemata has 27 sacks, his four alone last season tying for third-most on the Falcons.

"They both have different but similar play styles," Orhorhoro said. "Everybody is different. When you have different body types, you have to play different ways. I'm still going to be my own person. But I'm going to take bits and pieces from them -- the good bits and pieces -- and try to implement them in my game."

Orhorhoro – 6-foot-4 and 294 pounds – comes to Atlanta after five seasons at Clemson, redshirting in 2020 with a knee injury. He only improved after the injury, though, increasing his sack count from 2.5 in 2021 to four in '22 and five in '23. He made eight tackles for loss in each season and totaled 81 stops in those three years. He was also responsible for a safety and nine pass breakups in his career.

Now, he has the chance to take his game to the new level. And with the right help, he should be able to.

"Ruke, a pro," Orhorhoro said. "Man, it don't even feel real."

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