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Written by Jeff Falk
Earlier in the week, Jared Odrick said he wanted to go to a good team. On Thursday night, he got his wish – sort of.

Odrick, a 2006 graduate of Lebanon High School, was selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 28th overall pick in Thursday’s night’s first round of the NFL draft. The 2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year out of Penn State, Odrick was the fourth defensive tackle taken in the 75th edition of the NFL’s college-player entry draft.

Originially projected to be selected late in the first round, Orick’s draft stock had been on the rise because of eye-opening performances at the NFL scouting combine and the Senior Bowl. But he may have slipped a bit on Thursday, when some teams traded up to meet specific positional needs.

Last season, Miami went 7-9 with the 22nd ranked defense in the NFL.

“I spoke to Coach (Tony) Sparano, I spoke to the General Manager (Jeff Ireland),” Odrick told the Miami Sun-Sentinel on Thursday night. “I was so excited I might have spoken to two other people I didn’t even know to be honest with you. It was an exciting call. I saw the 954 (area code) number and I went nuts.”

When Odrick’s selection by the Dolphins was announced at 10:48 p.m., he hugged his mother and embraced his father. Then, sporting a goatee and a tailored tan suit, Odrick shook the hand of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the stage of New York City’s Radio City Music Hall and held high a Miami Dolphin jersey with the number ‘1’ on it.

“I really didn’t go into this thing thinking anyone (specifically) was going to take me, because I really didn’t have any idea,” Odrick told the Miami newspaper. “Everybody said the same thing. Everybody said, ‘hey, we like you, hey, we like you, hey, we like you.’ I just really went into it hoping that I could get drafted tonight and it happened.”

Prior to the draft, Odrick met with or privately worked out for seven NFL teams. Six of those teams could have chosen Odrick in the first round but passed. The Dolphins were not one of the teams with which Odrick had met.

“I spoke to some of the (Dolphins’) staff while I was down in Alabama playing in the (Senior Bowl) game and during practice week, and got good positive feedback,” said Odrick. “I knew that they had a strong feeling about me, but I didn’t know how strong. Obviously, it was pretty strong.”

Odrick has the ability to play defensive tackle in a traditional 4-3 scheme or defensive end in the more hybrid 3-4. The Dolphins are believed to be contemplating a switch from the 4-3 they played last year to a 3-4.

“I think overall, my versatility (is a strength),” said Odrick. “My strengths on the field, I think I’m a great pass rusher, I think I’m a great run stopper. I think that I’m a smart player on the football field and I make people around me better. It’s hard for me to talk about myself because I try to do everything as good as possible and not specialize in something.

“You want to do both,” continued Odrick. “I want to get after the quarterback every play that it’s a pass. Sacks don’t come every play, they come every so often. It makes you hungry to go get one, and that’s why it’s such an exciting play. Defending the run, that’s just being a man. That’s just hunkering down and getting dirty.”

Odrick is expected to fly to Miami in the next few days to meet with Dolphin coaches and front-office personnel, including executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells.

“I’m the kind of guy who’s going to be a professional, who’s going to come to work every day, who knows what he wants from the league and knows what he wants to get to the league,” said Odrick. “Not just the league, but the Miami Dolphins. Coming to work every day and being a competitor. I think I’m a natural competitor, and that’s what I do, compete.”

Odrick is only the second Lebanon native ever to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. In 1995, Kerry Collins, another Lebanon native who played collegiately at Penn State, was selected fifth overall by the Carolina Panthers.

“I wouldn’t say that I was expecting to be a first-round draft pick, but I got invited to the draft, and that’s something I was hoping for,” said Odrick. “I was hoping to be a first-night guy, and it turned out that way. I’m happy about that.”

And so will the Miami Dolphins.

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