Breitbart Exclusive: Okechukwu Okoroha's Faith, Ability Kept Him Working toward NFL
If you have not heard Okechukwu Okoroha as you look at prospects for the NFL Draft, you are not alone. If things goes as planned for Okechukwu at his Pro Day on March 13, however, that will soon change.
The elite safety from Marshall has better film and better measurables than almost any safety in the draft. At 6’1”, 213 pounds, Okoroha runs a 4.43 forty yard dash, can bench press 225 pounds 26 times, and possesses a 37” vertical leap.
Those numbers are two-tenths of a second faster and 11 reps more on the bench press than widely regarded first round safety prospect Kenny Vaccaro of Texas.
Yet, Okoroha, who jumps out on film with his incredible closing speed and aggressive mentality, is currently projected as a free agent.
“I believe that I am better than that,” the safety said. “I can run, cover, and hit. There’s a lot of guys that don’t know about me yet, but I’m used to being under the radar. After getting knocked down, I’ve gotten used to starting from the bottom.”
It is that “knocked down” part that has had a profound effect on Okoroha and who he is today.
A four star prospect out of Eleanor Roosevelt HS (Greenbelt, MD) who had only begun playing football as an eighth grader, Okoroha admired and looked up to Derrick Williams who was a few years his senior and was the number one ranked player in the nation and would sign with Penn State.
Williams has since played for the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers after being drafted by the Lions in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Seeking to follow in the superstar’s footsteps, Okoroha worked to develop his skills to the point where he himself became a heavily pursued prospect. “I told my coach I wanted to be just like him (Williams), and I worked to get better.”
Okoroha was pursued by some of the nation’s top schools but ultimately chose Boston College becoming one of the jewels of the 2008 Class. “I was close with my mother, and she really liked the idea of me going to Boston College and the fact that it was a Jesuit Catholic school,” said Okoroha. “I wanted to make her happy.”
Upon arriving at Boston College, Okoroha was stuck behind safety Wes Davis for two and a half years. However, he made sure to turn the misfortune into an opportunity. “He was a very knowledgeable player, and I picked his brain a lot,” said Okoroha.
When Davis was injured midway through his third season, Okoroha finally got his opportunity, and he made the most of it. He emerged as a starter and a dominant safety, and he felt that his dream of being in the NFL was on the verge of coming true.
Then, he hit rock bottom and he was dismissed from Boston College for violating team rules.
Whereas many have either given up, blamed others, or made rash decisions, Okoroha owned up to his mistake, kept working, and waited.
“I continued to train and work hard in the gym to make sure my body in shape,” he said. “I had faith and I believed in the Lord and kept working out.”
Meanwhile, Okoroha had no idea where he would end up, but kept working in the classroom and earned his degree from the prestigious university. Fellow teammate who had also been dismissed, Dominic LeGrande, also worked out with Okoroha and the two pushed each other and waited for the right opportunity to come along.
Late in the process, the door opened with Marshall for both friends and the two were ecstatic. “They were serious,” said Okoroha, “and it was icing on the cake that they wanted both me and Dominic.”
He started right away and made an instant impact for the Thundering Herd, notching 108 tackles and earning second-team all-conference honors. Following the standout season, Okoroha is now relentlessly preparing to achieve his life-long dream of making it to the NFL.
“I am usually at the facility around 9am and get my lift in everyday, and my runs and drills on the field, working on the things I need to be sharp on,” said the prospect. He noted the difficulty of the workouts and said he is normally at it from “9am to 3pm.” Following that, he says “I just try to stay home and keep my focus and make sure I’m not around anything I’m not supposed to be around.”
As his Pro Day approaches, Okoroha says that most teams are projecting him as a free agent. If that holds, the team that signs him will be getting an incredible steal.
Having reviewed his film, Okoroha has better closing speed than any other safety in this class. Moreover, he is a vicious hitter who brings a physical presence to the field, and his athleticism is at the top of his position.
Without the incident at Boston College, I have no doubt that Okoroha would have been long off the board by the close of Round 3.
However, while you will hear remorse, you will not hear regret in Okoroha’s voice when he discusses what knocked him down. “After the incident at Boston College, I grew up a lot and matured so much,” he says. “It made me who I am, and I began to take this dream more seriously. I work for everything I have, and I want to be the best.”
When asked what his strengths are as a player, what Okoroha first points to is not his blazing speed, his size, or his bone crushing hits. Instead, he said “I feel like my biggest strength is that I am a very knowledgeable player. Being at Boston College, I learned how important that classroom part of the game is and how much faster you will play.”
Then, he added, “I’m a very physical player, I’m going to hit you straight up, and I can play the pass as well as I can play the run.”
While he will get to make his case to scouts on Wednesday, I have already been impressed by Okoroha’s film, his intelligence, and his attitude. He is the complete package as a prospect, and I would not be surprised if there is not increased buzz surrounding him following his Pro Day.
While you may not have heard of Okechukwu Okoroha until now, I encourage you to keep track of the name. Whether he gets drafted or not, he could be the steal of the Class of 2013.
Stay tuned to Breitbart Sports for updates of Okechukwu Okoroha’s draft prospects.