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Will Ortiz be Making the NFL or Making Guacamole?

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June 7, 2017

Ricky Ortiz's passion for avocados and guacamole was spawned in junior high. (Courtesy Oregon State)

Owings Mills, MD - Undrafted rookie Ricky Ortiz can envision himself making the Baltimore Ravens, replacing a Pro Bowl fullback and becoming a lead blocker for Terrance West.

If he is unable to do so, Ortiz will return to his other passion, one that's unlike any other player's in the league.

Ortiz has his sights on being a guacamole entrepreneur. He co-owns an avocado farm that includes about 200,000 trees on 150 sprawling acres in Jalisco, Mexico.

So over the next couple of years, he figures to either be smashing linebackers or one of the world's most popular superfruits.

"It's a great fallback plan," Ortiz said. "It's good for me to have that on the side."

Ortiz's dream of being in the avocado business dates back to middle school. He and his best friend, Adrian Contreras, formed a plan to buy land, grow the fruit and distribute it all over the world.

That not-your-usual seventh-grade aspiration became an avocado orchard they named "Imperio" - which is Spanish for empire. They bought land adjacent to the sugarcane fields in Mexico that were owned by Contreras' father, and went through the multi-year process of getting certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

How committed has Ortiz been? He passed on a scholarship to Kansas State to walk-on at Oregon State, where a highly regarded agricultural sciences program could prepare him for his future business venture. Right now, his friend handles the farm and Ortiz deals with marketing and the company's future growth.

"In the end, we want to do guacamole," Ortiz said. "We'll have chefs come, line up different samples and put [the factory] in San Diego or somewhere where people migrate to. It would be a perfect spot for an 'Avocado Fest.'"

Ortiz's main focus these days is landing a spot on the Ravens, who've been among the league's best in finding under-the-radar talent. Baltimore has had at least one undrafted rookie make the team the past 13 seasons, the second-best streak in the NFL.

The Ravens are looking for a fullback after Kyle Juszczyk signed a big-money deal with the San Francisco 49ers this off season. Ortiz and Lorenzo Taliaferro are the only ones currently working at that position in offseason practices.

Read the full article on ESPN.