For Ravens' undrafted rookie Ricky Ortiz, it's making the NFL or making guacamole

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. They went through the multi-year process to get 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 offseason. Ortiz and Lorenzo Taliaferro are the only ones currently working at that position in offseason practices.

Asked if he believes the Ravens have someone to replace the Pro Bowl fullback, coach John Harbaugh said, "I do believe we have that person on the roster. Maybe it is a combination of guys, and we will see. But this Ortiz -- young guy -- he is doing a good job."

Ortiz is perhaps the most versatile rookie on the team. In college, he went from the offensive side of the ball to defense to offense again.

A coaching change -- and the elimination of the fullback in the switch to a spread offense -- led to Ortiz making eight starts at three different positions: tight end (six), fullback (one) and linebacker (one). A hard-nosed special teams player as well, he believes fullback is his best position.

"Looking back at fullback, there might be a few highlights out there but there are tons that I didn't put on the highlight tape," he said. "It was a lot of fun. That's where I kind of excelled. I knew coming out of college that would be my spot."

If he can convince the Ravens of that, he might have to delay a return to the avocado business a few more years.