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St. Louis Rams rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree eager to focus on football

Rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree's biggest scare in his first few months with the St. Louis Rams did not come on the field.

The 30th overall pick in the NFL draft got stuck in the middle of a tornado on May 31.

Ogletree said he and several teammates were returning home from a movie when they spotted a funnel cloud less than a mile away.

"Scariest thing I've ever been through," Ogletree said. "I've never seen nothing like it. It came right near us. I just kept driving and made it back to the hotel just in time."

On the field, the former Georgia standout has felt right at home.

He performed well in the rookie camp last month and also shined this week during workouts, turning heads with several big plays on Tuesday and Thursday.

"He's picking up things very well," St. Louis defensive coordinator Tim Walton said. "He's a great athlete and he's really been showing his football intelligence."

Ogletree, the Rams' second pick in the first round, can cover the field from sideline to sideline with speed, making him a contender for an inside linebacker spot.

"I think I'm making big strides out here," he said. "But I just want to keep working with everybody and get comfortable learning what I need to do."

The Rams announced they have signed Ogletree along with the rest of their seven-player draft class, headed by eighth overall pick Tavon Austin.

Rookies will be at Rams Park another week, primarily for conditioning, while veterans aren't due to return until training camp next month.

"This team is going to come back healthy and ready to go," coach Jeff Fisher said. "They've made a great commitment."

St. Louis drafted safety T.J. McDonald and wide receiver Stedman Bailey in the third round, offensive lineman Barret Jones in the fourth, and cornerback Brandon McGee and running back Zac Stacy in the fifth.

Ogletree comes to St. Louis after some controversy in college. He was arrested for an alleged DUI in February before the NFL combine. He was also suspended four games last season at Georgia for failing a drug test.

In his first year in college, Ogletree was charged with a misdemeanor theft for allegedly stealing a traveling helmet from a fellow student.

"That's all in the past," Ogletree said.

The off-field issues, especially the DUI, caused him to drop in the draft.

At one time, he was considered a top 15 pick, The Rams took a chance on him and for now, the move seems to have worked.

Ogletree spends most of his free time with his nose in the playbook.

"I just want to keep working hard and doing what I can to help this team," he said. "I'm learning something new every day."

Ogletree led Georgia in tackles last season with 111, despite missing four games. He saved his best for last in helping the Bulldogs to a 45-31 win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. Ogletree had 13 tackles, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and a sack in the victory.

"We expect big things out of him," Walton said. "He's a very talented young player that has a big upside."