GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers have added another former Wisconsin player to their roster.
It was announced Friday morning that the team had signed defensive lineman Olive Sagapolu. That came about a half hour after Sagapolu was spotted taking part in the second practice of training camp.
“It was exciting and kind of surprising,” Sagapolu told reporters afterwards. “As a guy playing at Wisconsin, you hear a lot about Green Bay. Being out here with the organization, it’s truly a blessing.”
It was also an unexpected one. Sagapolu went undrafted in April and wasn’t signed after taking part in the Miami Dolphins rookie minicamp in May. He’d had a couple recent workouts, including with the Detroit Lions, but it wasn’t until the Packers reached out to his agent that he found an NFL home.
“I’m still kind of in the moment. It’s still surreal,” Sagapolu said. “I still look at my phone. A lot of family members texting me, ‘good job, congrats.’ A lot of friends saying ‘congrats.’”
This wasn’t how many saw Sagapolu’s career playing out. He entered 2018 as one of the leaders of a Badgers defense that had been among the best in the country during his first three years on campus. But a mix of injuries and inexperience saw the unit take a step back.
Then, in a game against Northwestern in late October, Sagapolu suffered a torn rotator cuff that would end his season. Surgery would follow in November and he started what would be a long rehab that doctors told him would last a year. It left him unable to take part in the draft process and he estimated he’s about 85- to 90-percent healthy.
Sagapolu joins former teammate Natrell Jamerson on the Packers 90-man roster. It also means that nine of the starters on Wisconsin’s 2017 defense that helped the Badgers to a 13-1 record are now on NFL rosters.
“They need to look out for us. That’s what it says,” Jamerson said of the stat. “Especially the time I was there, all the guys I played with, we bring something different. Lot of teams are starting to see that.”