The Washington Commanders selected center Ricky Stromberg with the No. 97 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here are five things to know about one of the team's newest offensive linemen.
1. He was an excellent high school player.
It shouldn't be a surprise that football has part of Stromberg's life for years, and when he began his playing career at Union High School, he was one of the best prospects Oklahoma had to offer.
Stromberg was rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and was one of the best offensive linemen in the state. According to his high school recruiting page on ESPN, he was the No. 5 overall prospect and the No. 7 center in Oklahoma. He was also named the District 6A-1-2 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Union High School had a strong run while Stromberg was the starting center, as he helped the team win a state championship in his sophomore year. Over the course of his three years as a starter, Union High School had a record of 32-6.
Stromberg received offers from 10 schools but ultimately chose Arkansas over Arkansas State, Central Michigan, Colorado State and Nevada among others.
2. He had a unique NIL deal.
Name, Image and Likeness deals (NIL) are new to the college football world, and they offer student-athletes the opportunity to receive compensation through marketing or promotional deals.
Stromberg chose a company that seems fitting for an offensive lineman. He struck a deal with AgUp Equipment, which specializes in John Deere products, which according to their website is "your source for new & used tractors, combines, cotton pickers, sprayers and implements."
"I've always tried to help others engage the ground!" Stromberg wrote on an Instagram post.
The post also includes a video of Stromberg on a tractor (you can check out the post yourself on his Instagram), and if you're in Arkansas or Mississippi and need some Stromberg-endorsed John Deere equipment, check out AgUp Equipment's website, HERE.
Check out the top photos of Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg during his college career. (Photos vis The Associated Press)
3. He can be a versatile player.
Most of Stromberg's time at Arkansas was spent at center. He earned the starting job during his sophomore season and kept it for the rest of his college career. However, it did not start out that way.
Stromberg made an immediate impact for the Razorbacks, earning a starting spot on the offensive line as a freshman, but his role was at guard. He started his first two games at left guard before moving over to the right for the final nine games.
Fortunately for the Razorbacks, Stromberg was a quality player regardless of where they placed him. According to Pro Football Focus, he did not allow a sack on 417 pass-blocking sets. Being a lockdown pass protector became a trend for him, as he only allowed three sacks and nine quarterback hits during his entire four-year career.
4. He almost missed his draft call.
Getting a call from an NFL team is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a college player, but for Stromberg, head coach Ron Rivera had to contact him through someone else's phone.
Stromberg had gotten a new phone, and for some reason, it would not receive certain calls. Rivera obviously didn't know that at the time, so he was naturally surprised when someone not named Ricky Stromberg picked up his call before Washington was on the clock.
Rivera and the Commanders were quick to figure out the problem, though. General manger Martin Mayhew reached out to Stromberg's agent, who provided the phone number for Stromberg's father.
"Everyone in my family was hanging out and my dad ran out of his room screaming 'Washington is on the phone!'" Stromberg said on 106.7 The Fan. "I didn't know they had called the wrong number, but I talked to them through his phone."
5. He's fired up to be a Commander.
Stromberg had an idea the Commanders were interested in him. He spoke with Travelle Wharton and Eric Bieniemy during his visit to the team facility, and he felt good about the interactions. Being drafted by them was still a surreal experience.
"I'm speechless," Stromberg told reporters that night. "Seriously cause like, this is just insane. It almost doesn't feel real. This is amazing. Definitely all glory to God. It's insane right now. My family is having a blast in there. I mean, this is awesome. This is amazing."
Stromberg felt a connection with the facility and team when he visited earlier this year. He loved the state of Virginia and the look of the facility. The draft is unpredictable, but Washington was a team he wanted to play for.
"When I was there when I was talking to him [Bieniemy], it just felt right," Stromberg said. "Talking to Coach Rivera, I went and had lunch with him, walked down and go have lunch with them. That was pretty cool. That was a really cool part. The whole visit was really well."
Now that he's officially a member of the team, he only has one goal in mind: help the team however he can.
"I'm so fired up. I'm shaky. My body's shaky. I'm so fired up," Stromberg said. "I mean, there's some games we had in college that were pretty big wins, but this right here is a, this is a special moment."