Luckily for him, the shoulder injury that Odom suffered occurred early enough to garner him a medical redshirt. While tackling running back Ahmaad Galloway during a scrimmage, Odom's shoulder dislocated. For a couple of weeks he tried to play with the injury, but after the joint kept popping out of place, Odom was forced to undergo surgery to repair the damage.
He put his down time to good use, throwing himself into his strength training. Last spring he was one of four players to earn "Iron Man" honors for his work in the weight room. Now, Odom is more than ready to step back on the field after a long absence.
"It was real hard," Odom said, about sitting out. "It motivated me more than anything to get back healthy. I did some lifting weights, mostly shoulder stuff, some tubing exercises. I [swam] a lot."
Odom is listed behind junior Nautyn McKay-Loescher, one of his best friends on the team, on the depth chart for defensive end. He said that competition is not a problem, and that he just wants to be on the field. "It doesn't bother me if I start or if I don't, as long as I get to play," Odom said.
His 6-6 frame helps him a lot when it comes to playing on the defensive line. In the first workout with full pads, Odom batted down a Tyler Watts pass, drawing praise from his teammates and coaches. His play two years ago as a true freshman, when he had three sacks, five quarterback pressures, and one pass break-up, led many to believe that last year was going to be his breakout season.
Now, after another year's worth of added strength, those predictions are starting up again. But Odom pays no attention to other people's expectations of him.
"I want to live up to my expectations and the team expectations," Odom says. "I don't care what anyone else says."
And what might his expectations be?
"I want us to win every game, whup Oklahoma and all the teams they say we can't whup," Odom said. "I want to have about seven sacks and for our defensive line to be ranked number one in everything."
Odom's progress over the past two years has been observed by tight end Theo Sanders, who has the chance to block Odom during practice. Sanders has noticed a difference in Odom now as opposed to Odom as a true freshman.
"He's come back from his shoulder surgery like a totally new person," Sanders said. "He's faster, he's stronger, and he just gives you a hell of a time trying to block him."
Odom has certainly gotten stronger over the past two years, going from 235 pounds as a true freshman to 280 in his redshirt sophomore season. Surprisingly, he had no trouble at all gaining weight.
"You just got to eat," Odom said. "I've been eating real good. I just got married, and my wife cooks for me."
"She cooks me anything I want."