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Joseph Ibiloye Q&A
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Sooner defensive back talks about his name, life, football and more
Joseph Ibiloye has always been the guy with the last name few people know how to pronounce. When Ibiloye (pronounced e-bill-oi-yay) signed with Oklahoma two years ago, even OU coaches had a tough time saying his name. Now that he’s become a major part of the OU defense as the strongside linebacker in passing situations, people have to learn how to pronounce the former Dallas-area product’s name.
Sooner Spectator sat down recently with “Ibby” to get his take on his increased role in the OU defense, his favorite things about college and the origins of the hard to pronounce last name.
Sooner Spectator: Have people always had trouble pronouncing your last name?
Joseph Ibiloye: Always. Ever since I’ve been little it’s been an issue for everybody that tries to say my name.
SS: Did your high school coaches ever get it down or did they just call you a nickname?
Ibiloye: They called me ‘Ibby.’ Everybody calls me ‘Ibby’ up here now, too. That’s just my nickname.
SS: Where does the name come from?
Ibiloye: It’s Nigerian. My mom and my dad are full Nigerian, born and raised.
SS: When did they come to the United States?
Ibiloye: My mom moved here when she was 22 and she’s been here for over 20 years now. My parents met in Nigeria, but they got married in the States.
SS: Did your parents move to Texas from Nigeria or have they been all over?
Ibiloye: They’ve always been in Texas, in the (Dallas) Metroplex.
SS: Is there something about having parents from Nigeria that has made life a lot different for you compared to most kids?
Ibiloye: Coming from where my mom came from, I can tell that they struggled. I’ve never been there before, but I can see how she sends money every month down there to support her family. I can understand where they come from and hopefully I can make something out of football and help my mom out.
SS: Can you talk a little bit about your transition to linebacker and how it came about?
Ibiloye: We talked about it in high school before I came down here and it’s always been in consideration. After the spring, me and Coach (Brent) Venables sat down and talked about it and about making the transition. In two-a-days, I got a lot of work before the fall started. I just had to get used to it. I kind of played it in high school my junior year and I’m just working out the kinks. I’m still trying to get better at it.
SS: In high school you bigger, faster and more physical than everyone else playing linebacker, so that wasn’t an issue, right?
Ibiloye: In high school, you could get away with some stuff when you’re bigger, stronger and faster than everybody. Now, you’ve got to know your fits, your keys, your reads and all that stuff. Every day, I’m still trying to get better at it.
SS: You have a brother, Alex, who played at TCU right?
Ibiloye: Yeah, he’s actually still playing for them. He’s their starting free safety.
SS: What was it like having a brother playing college football when you were going through high school and deciding on colleges?
Ibiloye: Well, he didn’t really factor in my decision, but he always gave me advice and preparations and things I needed to look for and be ready for.
SS: What has he told you about this year now that you are playing? Do you guys get a chance to talk much during the season?
Ibiloye: Yeah, we always talk after the Saturday games and I ask him how he did and we always pray for each other before games and to make sure nobody gets hurt. That’s the main thing.
SS: What has it been like for you to be more involved in the defense now as the SAM linebacker in dime packages?
Ibiloye: It’s real exciting. In the Big 12, every week you’re facing a good quarterback and good receivers. I guess you can say you have to have a good package and I guess they’re using me to help out with speed at linebacker.
SS: Not asking to ask you to complain about officiating, but there was a certain play against Texas where you were one-on-one against a receiver and you played it really well. You still like to flash those cover skills?
Ibiloye: (Laughing). Yeah. I feel pretty confident in my cover skills. That play, they called me for pass interference. I’m not going to say I agree with that call, but it is what it is.
SS: Do you still get to work on a lot of one-on-one stuff in practice?
Ibiloye: In certain calls they have us in, I’m playing coverage.
SS: As far as playing this role and being in and out of games, is that part of the difficulty that you aren't an every down guy and you get thrown into huge situations when you are in there?
Ibiloye: It's not a burden. Practicing out here - Oklahoma practices are hard and it just transfers to Saturdays. During practice week that's what I do. In certain situations they call me in and I get used to that on Saturdays.
SS: Who is your best friend on the team?
Ibiloye: My best friends are Casey Walker and Lamar Harris and Derrick Bradley.
SS: You and Casey came to a summer camp together up here, right?
Ibiloye: I came to camp and I had met him because I saw the ‘G’ on his helmet and I wanted to clarify if he was from Garland. After I met him there we kicked it in Garland and we became real cool after that. We roomed together our freshmen year and we’ve been real cool since them.
SS: It’s got to be interesting watching him go through some of the same things you’ve been going through?
Ibiloye: Yeah. We just try to keep each other encouraged through the tough times. There will be tough times (laughing). Lamar is just a guy I can kind of relate to. He was a DB when I came in and that’s how we really got cool.
SS: When you guys kick back and it’s not football all the time — what’s a perfect Friday night?
Ibiloye: Wake up and get my hair cut and see if anything is going on that night. I try and go out, but if there’s nothing going on I’ll just kick it at the house and play some video games. I like to play sports games and shooting games.
SS: Are you a practical jokester?
Ibiloye: Yeah, I like to joke a lot. Some people say I look serious most of the time. But I’m real laid back.
SS: You didn’t have a beard coming out of high school, so what’s the fashion statement here?
Ibiloye: It’s no fashion statement. If I could in high school, I would have. They had a rule that we had to shave. I didn’t get it, but I guess it was against the dress code. They made me shave and they were always on me in high school. Now that I have some freedom, I let it grow out.
SS: Last year, everyone wanted to say that you just couldn’t stop offenses in this conference. Does it feel good to kind of prove it can be done this year?
Ibiloye: Like I said, the Big 12, especially last year, you had great quarterbacks every week. I watched from the sideline — and this year, we’re just trying to work out ways to stop these offenses. Whatever works for us, we’re going to try and do it.
(Editor's Note: This Interview appears in Sooner Spectator's 2009 Basketball Preview issue, on sale at newsstands now... to subscribe and get 12 issues of SS delivered to your door, call toll free 1-877-841-8877)