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Mr. Laz
02-26-2007, 10:28 AM
Posted on Mon, Feb. 26, 2007

The NFL draft at 19?

Louisville phenom Okoye is used to taking on challenges at an earlier age than peers.

By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Jim Barcus | The Kansas City Star

Amobi Okoye (top) was a force in his time at Louisville, which included a game against Kansas State in 2006.
Okoye

INDIANAPOLIS | They had one rule for defensive tackle Amobi Okoye when he arrived at the University of Louisville.

He was forbidden to play in a game until he started shaving. After all, Okoye was just 16 years old.

But once then-Louisville coach Bobby Petrino saw Okoye on the practice field, he bought him a razor.

“When he played in his first college football game, he was 16, against the University of Kentucky,” recalled Petrino, now the Atlanta Falcons coach. “He played very well, he had a great freshman year, and then he continued to get better and better …”

In April, Okoye is expected to be a first-day draft choice at the tender age of 19, the youngest player ever selected according to NFL officials.

Some are calling Okoye, who will turn 20 in June, the anti-Maurice Clarett, in reference to the star-crossed running back who unsuccessfully challenged the system in his bid to turn pro at age 20 after playing just one college season.

Okoye not only obtained his degree in psychology in 3 1/2 years, but he plans to go to graduate school, maybe at Harvard — a university he rejected coming out of high school.

“My dad was big on going to Harvard and I was big on playing football,” said Okoye, a 6-foot-2, 302 pounder. “Not to downgrade Harvard, but Louisville had the best of both worlds for me as far as athletics and academics. I didn’t want to go to any big school, I wanted to be part of something growing.”

Okoye, who is no relation to former Chiefs running back Christian Okoye, started school at age 2 1/2 in his native Nigeria where his mother was the principal. He skipped sixth grade, and after the family moved to Huntsville, Ala., to join his father, he skipped another grade.

Once he was discovered by the Lee High School football coach who was his homeroom substitute teacher, Okoye started playing. He started one varsity game as a 13-year-old sophomore before Petrino began recruiting him as a 15-year old. Okoye then became the youngest college football player in America.

Next fall, the precocious Okoye will be going against players in their mid- to late 20s and 30s. Even though he has shown the ability and maturity to play at such a young age, Okoye agrees with the rules that prohibit athletes from playing in the NFL until they are three years removed from high school.

“I think those rules are good,” he said. “Every kid who has a chance and ability to go to college should go. I think college is a life-changing experience. It’s time … you get to find yourself. I’m still finding myself out. I really think everybody should go to college if you have the chance and opportunity.”

During his career at Louisville, Okoye totaled 115 tackles, including 20 for loss, and had 8.5 sacks in four years.

“This year was an amazing season for him,” Petrino said. “He completely took over the leadership of the team, really matured and grew up.”

Petrino expects Okoye to only improve. Heck, he could play 20 years and still not be the oldest player in the league.

“The first thing that is really going to help him out is he’s very intelligent,” Petrino said. “He’s a real student of the game. He understands blocking schemes, he knows how to attack pass protection. He’s a real physical, explosive young man who combines strength and quickness.

“The thing you don’t know is how much bigger is he going to continue to get? He’s going to be a great football player.”

Okoye still has to deal with some taunting by opponents and teasing by teammates about his age.

“I got teased all the time,” he said. “At the Senior Bowl they called me ‘Phe’, short for phenom.”

Despite the disparity in his age and that of his classmates, Okoye said he had no problems as a 15-year-old senior dating 17- and 18-year-olds.

“I did all right,” he said sheepishly.
To reach Randy Covitz, NFL writer for The Star, call (816) 234-4796 or send e-mail to rcovitz@kcstar.com

GoHuge
02-26-2007, 11:30 AM
I'd love to see the Chiefs move up and get this kid. He could be playing in his third contract at the age of 30. Send somebody Jared Allen and move up!

SNR
02-26-2007, 11:34 AM
If there ever were such a thing as a great "character" guy that automatically translates to success in the NFL, this guy is it. I really hope he falls to the Chiefs, though I doubt it.

Worst nightmare: He goes to the Donkos :(

Demonpenz
02-26-2007, 11:36 AM
we have had sucess with okoye's here before. I wonder if they ar related?

Mile High Mania
02-26-2007, 11:42 AM
we have had sucess with okoye's here before. I wonder if they ar related?

I haven't seen anything that mentions he is related to Christian, but ... their birth places in Nigeria are very close geographicaly, so who knows.

Scorp
02-26-2007, 11:42 AM
we have had sucess with okoye's here before. I wonder if they ar related?




Okoye, who is no relation to former Chiefs running back Christian Okoye

Hmmm let me take a stab at this......... ROFL

SNR
02-26-2007, 11:45 AM
Hmmm let me take a stab at this......... ROFLReading comprehension isn't not so not overrated

Redrum_69
02-26-2007, 11:51 AM
Trade Jared Allen for Okoye

Trade Larry Johnson for Okoye

Trade all the picks in the draft for Okoye

Mr. Laz
02-26-2007, 12:56 PM
we have had sucess with okoye's here before. I wonder if they ar related?
thanks for actually reading the article

Frankie
02-26-2007, 01:08 PM
If there ever were such a thing as a great "character" guy that automatically translates to success in the NFL, this guy is it. I really hope he falls to the Chiefs.

Hali was described as a character guy too. Hali and Okoye on the same D-line would be awesome. The African force.

Kclee
02-26-2007, 01:45 PM
thanks for actually reading the article

I think he's joking.

Mr. Laz
02-26-2007, 02:11 PM
I think he's joking.
hehe ..... ya

i've been trying to figure for awhile now whether Demonpenz just has a silly "leslie nelson, i'm a tard" sense of humor or whether he is teh moran. :shrug:

spent half of a thread trying to tell him how to download a Torrent file. It seemed to me like he was deliberately playing dumb ... but nowadays who knows. LMAO

Kclee
02-26-2007, 02:28 PM
hehe ..... ya

i've been trying to figure for awhile now whether Demonpenz just has a silly "leslie nelson, i'm a tard" sense of humor or whether he is teh moran. :shrug:



No, not a moran. I kind of laughed at the post because he has posted it a few times. He will probably continue to do it and of course more people will fall for it. Which again will make me laugh. :banghead: I think that makes me the moron.