And the Ravens' top draft pick's dream came true this week during the team's three-day minicamp. Upshaw admitted he was a little star-struck when he stood across from the legendary linebacker in the huddle.
"At first it was like, 'Wow, this is Ray Lewis,'" said Upshaw, who was seven years old when Lewis entered the NFL. "Me and my friends, we wanted to play alongside him or be like Ray."
Upshaw wasn't the only one with an eye on a teammate.
Lewis and fellow defensive star Terrell Suggs both said they like what they see in the rookie.
"I just love his motor," Lewis said. "He's a kid that just loves football."
Suggs wasn't able to practice because of his Achilles tendon injury, but he did attend minicamp and participated in all of the meetings. After looking at Upshaw on film, Suggs was impressed.
"He's ahead of where I was when I came in my rookie year," Suggs said.
That's high praise considering Suggs' rookie season. He led the team with the franchise rookie record 12 sacks, the second most of any season in his nine-year career.
Upshaw has been working at Suggs' rush linebacker spot and the SAM linebacker position during OTAs and minicamp. He is currently a favorite to win a starting job at one of those positions, and Suggs believes the rookie will be up to the challenge.
"I've got 100 percent confidence in the kid," Suggs said.
Lewis also believes that Upshaw has a bright future, especially after seeing him in action.
"The way he approaches the game, his speed towards the game, and the way he flies around to the football, you really appreciate watching somebody like him," Lewis said.
As Upshaw went through the week and watched the way Lewis approaches his craft, he was struck by Lewis' commitment to conditioning and taking care of his body.
"He looks good," Upshaw said. "His body, his physique and everything. He takes care of his body. It's motivating to keep your body healthy for your longevity in this league."
And after a week of working together, Upshaw said that it's now becoming more of a reality that Lewis is his new teammate.
"I'm over the 'Wow Factor,'" Upshaw said. "There's still a little awe here and there. He interacts with everybody like a normal, regular person. It's been all fun."