From Clint Stoerner to Felix Jones to Darren McFadden, the pipeline of Razorbacks who have ended up playing for Jerry Jones in the Dallas Cowboys franchise is long.
The latest Razorback turned Cowboy prospect is Cheyenne “CJ” O’Grady, the wildly talented but undisciplined former star who was dismissed from the Hogs team in early November 2019. Every season since his freshman year in 2015, it seemed, O’Grady had some kind of the off-the-field issue.
“I was just the kid that always wanted to resist authority. I hate to say it now, looking back at it, but I just didn’t want to listen. I wasn’t accountable. I didn’t show up all the time,” O’Grady said in an interview with KATV’s Kyle Deckelbaum. “And it wasn’t like every week or every day kind of thing, but it just showed up enough to where it was enough for them to finally end up dismissing me.”
He also said: “I was very, very immature. My whole five years there at Arkansas, I don’t know why it took me so long to mature. Still doing it, maturing nowadays. I’m not all the way there yet, but man, maturity is what got me.”
O’Grady says he learned a lot from getting cut loose.
“It was probably one of the hardest, lowest of lows I’ve ever been. But at the same time, it was one of my highest points. Because I grew so much from it, maturity-wise, and I’ve learned so much.”
“My whole mindset has changed as far as how I look at things and view things. In college, I always wanted to get my way and wanted things to go the way I wanted them. I learned real quick in life, that’s not how it’s going to happen.”
The Cowboys Come Calling
O’Grady is now getting a chance to show the world how much he’s matured.
The Dallas Cowboys, owned by former Razorback Jerry Jones, need help at tight end after starter Blake Jarwin left Game 1 with a knee injury. He’s out for the season.
So the Cowboys reached out to O’Grady and brought him in for a workout, according to Jon Machota, who covers the team for The Athletic.
Cowboys worked out 4 players today: OT Jared Veldheer, QB Jalen Morton, TE Cheyenne O’Grady, TE Erik Swoope. Veldheer, a 3rd round pick by the Raiders in 2010, has 113 career starts. He played 2 games for the Packers last season. He started 12 games at RT for the Broncos in 2018— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 16, 2020
No doubt, Jones and the Cowboys organization are intrigued by O’Grady since he did end up as Arkansas’ career leader in touchdown receptions among tight ends despite never being truly locked in. If he has matured, and gave 100%, then there’s no question he could play in the NFL.
O’Grady himself knows this, pointing out that he managed to break the school record despite having eight games stripped away from his career (though it should be noted Hunter Henry played only three seasons since he left for the pros early).
Whether O’Grady really has matured is the million-dollar question as he competes for a backup spot with Erik Swoope, a 28-year-old NFL veteran who has 23 catches for 384 yards in four seasons.
What actually happened?
“I missed a workout on the Sunday following the Alabama game,” O’Grady told Deckelbaum. “Then, on Wednesday, I missed a meeting. And then that’s when Coach Morris was kind of like, ‘We need to come to either a mutual agreement that we can walk away from the team, or I can just dismiss you.'”
Obviously, I fought for it, fought, scratched, and clawed to stay on the team. I didn’t want either of those choices. And then finally, I’m like, “Well, I guess the one that looks better on me is if we just mutually agree that I walk away from the team.’ Even though that’s not what I wanted to do.”
That dismissal laid Cheyenne O’Grady low. “I was crushed when reality hit me. I was like, “I am no longer a part of this team. I don’t get to play any more games.” It crushed me. I just sat on my butt for two weeks. Like, ‘What am I going to do? This is actually my life.’
Soon, though, O’Grady was introduced to an agent. “I’m like, ‘Well, maybe this is an opportunity.’ So I got with my aunt and she helped me gather questions. Because I didn’t want to pull the trigger just right off the bat… My aunt stepped in and then that all started moving forward. Then I got with my nutritionist, God bless her for helping me. She literally went to Walmart with me and helped me pick out all the essentials….”
What has O’Grady been doing since then?
A Fayetteville native, O’Grady has stayed in town throughout much of 2020. He occasionally Tweets pictures of getting out, however.
He got to see the Grand Canyon with his aunt and her daughter, for instance:
While staying in great shape, he’s started coaching kids on the side. As you can see below, he’s taking clients in the NWA area simply through his Twitter account, @OGOhmygrady.
Here’s overcome some bad times, too.
On July 27, he Tweeted: “Kicked out of the house by a guy who I’ve been friends with for over 4 years. Money really will change a person. KEEP YOUR CIRCLE TIGHT. Looking for no empathy tho, I’m a grown man just overcoming another obsticle life is throwing at me. Just showing you guys how real life is.”
Then, on August 11, he opens his heart in this one:
“I see videos about females complaining when men play video games instead of spending time with them. I use to be one of those guys; Use to play the game pretty much all the time because I was pretty good. WELL IVE NOW GONE 2 MONTHS W/O VIDEO GAMES. AND. SINGLE…Ladies wya? “
All this time, thoughts of football and his former team aren’t too far from mind.
He often gives out shout outs to players on this year’s squad like Mike Woods:
And to the team itself:
In general, O’Grady comes off as someone very appreciative of life.
Just recently, he wrote: “I’m welcoming September with the biggest smile, hug, Ring if I need to…. BECAUSE, this year has been soooo good to me, I found my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AND ITS MY BIRTHDAY ON THE 20th!!!! Good news coming soon in the month of September! God Bless!”
Wading into Politics
He’s also not afraid to speak up for the causes that matter most to him, whether that’s #BlackLivesMatter or #MAGA (not the most common combination, I know). In some of his Tweets, he goes after liberals.
In fact, below he equates them with the Colorado State defenders who bounced off of him last season in his greatest college play:
“This play was just another example of Libs trying to come at me. As you can see, I ain’t going down without a fight because I’m gonna ALWAYS stand up for what I believe in. I believe in the Lord above and that’s the only person that I will never argue with. #ArkansasMade #WPS“
There’s also this:
O’Grady knows his opinions are going to turn a lot of people off. But that doesn’t bother him.
“For those of you that don’t like deep conversation or those of you that are afraid to talk about God, here’s your chance to back out,” he Tweeted a few months ago. “Also, if you’re gonna say I’m crazy, insane, or have a argument for this don’t even bother reading it. Read if you dare:”
That’s pretty mystical sounding.
But perhaps O’Grady really does see things the rest of us don’t. In early July, after all, he had a premonition he’d get a crack at making Jerry’s squad: