When Howard University's Marques Ogden wanted some help improving his football skills, he turned to an appropriate source for wisdom and advice.
Ogden flew to Las Vegas earlier this summer to get some help from his brother. After the Howard coaches redshirted him last year, Ogden wanted to make sure he knew everything possible before stepping on the field.
He was fortunate because his brother knows something about the game. Marques's older brother is Jonathan Ogden, a two-time Pro Bowl selection at left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.
Jonathan, a 6-foot-9, 345-pound tackle, quickly is gaining a reputation as one of the game's top linemen. He was a first-round draft pick by Baltimore in 1996 out of UCLA, and has started for the Ravens ever since.
The Ogden family and those associated with the Howard football program don't want 18-year-old Marques to be compared to Jonathan, 25, or simply be known as "Jonathan's younger brother." Everyone wants Marques (6-6, 325) to have his own identity, and by earning a starting position at right tackle as a redshirt freshman, he has taken the first step toward that goal.
"He's got more of the gift of the game, and he doesn't have to work as hard as I do," Marques said of Jonathan. "I have talent, but I have to develop it."
Jonathan likes what he has seen from his brother. The pair worked hard during their week in Las Vegas, and the all-pro simply smiled when asked about his sibling.
"I like his technique. He's strong, and he'll do fine. Besides, he's got my genes," he said with a laugh.
Marques said being redshirted was the best thing possible for him last year. It allowed the pre-med major time to learn everything about the offense. He also had time to settle into school. When this year started, Ogden was ready to go.
But he'll still talk to Jonathan regularly, throwing a variety of questions at him to ensure he's helping Howard. Marques wants to do things right, and he's glad his brother can help.
"I talk to my brother at least three or four times a week [about] things that stress me out," Marques said. "He knows it like it's nothing, and that's why I love having him around."
Shirrel Ogden said he's glad his two sons can work together, but acknowledges there are differences between the brothers. Jonathan played at St. Albans and was coached beginning in the seventh grade. Marques went to St. John's and didn't receive formal coaching until the ninth grade while developing his talents.
Shirrel, who started on the defensive line for Howard from 1969 to '71, said he thinks Marques does a good job of deflecting possible pressure caused by his brother's fame.
"I think he views it as a plus instead of a minus," Shirrel said. "Sometimes [the Ravens coaches] have worked with him and talked with him."
Howard Coach Steve Wilson understands what Marques is going through. Wilson's father, Tom Wilson, played in the NFL. Steve Wilson also played in the NFL, with Dallas and Denver.
He knows how people tried to compare him to his father, and he refuses to make any comparisons of the Ogden brothers. A freshman starter at Howard is rare, and Marques has impressed Wilson from the start.
"Sometimes people think you have to be clones, and [you're not]," Wilson said. "Marques has size, speed and the smarts. He just needs some experience."
Howard's offensive line is loaded with experienced players who can help Marques grow during the season. Ogden said he sees playing with veteran linemen as the best way he can learn throughout the year. The Bison open the season Saturday night at Jackson State.
However, if everything falls through, he still could phone home.
"He's really a great brother when it comes to helping me with things on the field and things I don't understand," Marques said. "I can't expect to come out here and be as good as Jonathan. I believe that when I get out there and get the game experience, I'll be able to improve. I just want to go out there and contribute this year."