Harvard Football Program Feature Story: Wesley Ogsbury

Wesley Ogsbury action photo
Photo Courtesy: Brock Scott.

By Scott Sudikoff

Senior defensive back Wesley Ogsbury, who was granted a fifth year of eligibility to be with the Crimson for 2019, was awarded the honor of being the 146th team captain in Harvard history. The economics concentrator from Denver, Colorado understands how big of an accomplishment that is for a Crimson football player.

"I automatically knew it was my biggest achievement in life so far," Ogsbury said about being named the captain. "It was something I was striving for ever since I met [2014] captain Norman Hayes. That was the type of guy I wanted to be."

Ogsbury's journey to Cambridge began in elementary school where he started to build his love for football.

"The teacher would play quarterback and tell me to run as far as I could," Ogsbury explained. "I'd out-run everyone and just go get it."

Even with the success at recess, Ogsbury did not begin to play organized football until the sixth grade and was playing soccer more regularly.

"My older brothers were playing football, all of my friends were playing," Ogsbury pointed out. "Football is a lot cooler, so I switched over!"

At the outset, Ogsbury dabbled at running back and linebacker, utilizing the speed he had shown on the field during pick-up games. 

"Basically, the same thing as what I did [at school]," said Ogsbury. "Getting the ball and running really fast away from everybody or trying to track down the ball. [Football] was about what I imagined at that age."

Once his career officially began, Ogsbury knew that the sport was for him.

"I would say from the first year I started playing I fell in love with it," Ogsbury explained. "I remember thinking I'm pretty good at this, I'm having fun so let me play this out and see how it goes."

After a couple of years at the little league level, it was time to head to high school for Ogsbury where he would suit up for the East High School team. He would spend the entirety of his freshman campaign on the "C" team.

"I was really a raw athlete," said Ogsbury. "I didn't have much training, or much coordination and it wasn't until after my freshman year that I took a huge leap."

Ogsbury stayed busy throughout the school year, also being a member of the basketball and track teams at East High School.

"Track helped me with straight-line speed," Ogsbury described. "Basketball was another way to work on my competitive edge and build myself as a teammate."

Even with his success with basketball and track, football was the clear number one sport for Ogsbury.

"In my junior year of high school, I got really serious and decided I wasn't going to play basketball," Ogsbury remembered. "I worked out to try and get bigger and faster [for football], and I did put on a good amount of weight and increased my weightlifting numbers."

The dream of playing at the college level started for Ogsbury even before he reached high school. For him, it would be the way to earn a great education.

"I would say as early as I could understand how college worked, that you have to pay for it," said Ogsbury. "Somehow I knew I'd have to be able to play a sport in college."

In high school, Ogsbury was a senior captain that played both at defensive back and wide receiver, while earning All-State honors in 2014. The recruitment process for college didn't kick into full gear until the summer heading into that senior season.

"My mentor sent me a list of 10 schools while I was on vacation and told me to send out all of my highlights and test scores to these schools," Ogsbury explained. "Coach Poppe, the [Harvard] recruiting coordinator for my area, got back to me the next day!"

In the end it came down to Harvard, Colorado and Yale.

"I was actually scheduled to go on an official visit to Yale when I decided I wanted to commit to Harvard," Ogsbury pointed out. "I called up Coach Murphy, cancelled my trip to Yale and the rest was history."

Like many student-athletes there is that transition period when you first arrive on campus. Ogsbury dealt with some of that anxiety as well.

"It was a bit overwhelming as I was still trying to take in the fact that I was on a college campus starting a new chapter in my life," Ogsbury reflected. "This was exactly the thing I've been wanting to do, so I was overwhelmed, but at the same time excited and ready to put the work in."

Ogsbury certainly has put the work in and it hasn't gone unnoticed.

"Wes has grown so much as a person since he arrived at Harvard and being voted captain by his peers is the ultimate example of that," said The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football Tim Murphy. "He does a lot of things well on the field, but what makes him special is that he is the ultimate competitor."

In 2018, Ogsbury earned All-Ivy League first-team honors and collected six interceptions in 10 games. His interceptions per game rate ranked him third in the nation.

As we embark on another Harvard-Yale matchup, the importance of the rivalry has been ingrained in Ogsbury's mind.

"The importance of the game set in during my sophomore year when I started," Ogsbury said. "I walked on the field, looked around, saw the stands full and I knew this was the biggest game I had played in my career."

With his college career winding down, Ogsbury has had time to reflect on what makes playing football at Harvard so special.

"You get to receive a great education that will open doors for you after college," Ogsbury explained. "You meet an incredibly diverse group of people and you're able to play football for a great program."

He also sums up his time in Cambridge in a very simple manner.

"The memories that pop into my head are being the happiest I've ever been; pure bliss, no stress, no worries."