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Recruiting: Ugo Chinasa
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Oklahoma in hot pursuit of talented defensive end from Richardson
When defensive end Larry Birdine ripped his biceps muscle during the preseason, Oklahomaâ€™s defense lost not only one of its best players, but one of its best leaders. Barely two weeks later in the Soonersâ€™ 2005 season opener, Birdineâ€™s replacement, John Williams, suffered a similar fate when a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
It goes without saying OUâ€™s defensive end corps has been thinned to the point where any more injuries could prove devastating.
While junior college transfer C.J. Ah You and senior Calvin Thibodeaux have worked hard to pick up the slack, they are the only two defensive ends taking regular snaps during games this season. Depth is obviously a major concern at that position.
With projected contributor Alonzo Dotson academically ineligible, the Sooners have been left with little in the cupboard other than a few inexperienced backups who are not yet ready to test their skills at the Division-I level. That means the Sooners are in need of restocking talent at that position during the offseason.
Oklahoma has always looked to play a four-man rotation at defensive end. Right now, the numbers situation simply doesnâ€™t allow it. In fact, redshirt-freshman Alan Davis is listed as the main backup behind both Thibodeaux and Ah You, and heâ€™s seen limited duty in just four games this fall.
â€śItâ€™s really big,â€ť said defensive ends coach Chris Wilson, about bringing in some impact players at DE with the 2006 recruiting class. â€śWe graduate three senior linemen this year. Thereâ€™s obviously a big void there. Weâ€™re trying to fill those three areas (with new recruits).â€ť
Topping the Soonersâ€™ want-list during the 2005-06 recruiting season is Ugo Chinasa (pronounced ooh-go chuh-naw-suh). The 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end from Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas, is the No. 3-ranked player in the country at his position by Rivals.com.
If the name sounds exotic, thatâ€™s because it is. Chinasaâ€™s father, Chinasa Mahdimir, was born and raised in the central region of Africa. Instead of naming his son Chinasa Jr., he flipped things around a bit.
â€ś(Chinasa) was my dadâ€™s first name,â€ť said Ugo, whose first name means Godâ€™s Eagle. â€śHe grew up in Nigeria and he just felt like doing that, Iguess.â€ť
Ugo Chinasa was born in the United States and knows nothing else. In first grade, Chinasa put on his first football helmet and heâ€™s been in love with the game ever since.
If Chinasa Mahdimir wanted his son to do something with his name, he has. As early as his freshman season, college football teams were already taking notice of Ugoâ€™s talents. He received his first letter from Texas A&M that year.
And since then, the attention has increased exponentially.
â€śI had about 50 different colleges sending me stuff in the mail and I realized how big this was going to get,â€ť said Chinasa.
And pretty soon, his family was swimming neck-deep in mail.
â€śThey were always telling me to come and get my mail because there were just piles of it,â€ť he said.
But even with the early attention, Chinasa had no idea he would be this highly recruited until last fall. As a junior, Chinasa was part of a defensive line which featured several Division-I prospects and that brought even more looks his way.
This season, heâ€™s sticking out like a sore thumb at times.
â€śThey try to get me out of the game and get me kicked out. They try to get in my head,â€ť said Chinasa, describing tactics used by other teams this season. â€śNobody ever runs to my side. Iâ€™m usually on the wide side of the field and this year Iâ€™m the only returning starter, so they put me there to try and make more plays.â€ť
Even though opposing teams double- and triple-team Chinasa every Friday night, limiting his overall numbers â€” college recruiters are undeterred in their pursuit of the talented defensive end.
â€śIâ€™m very aggressive, athletic and I have a lot of speed,â€ť answered Chinasa, when asked to describe his style of play.
Chinasa currently lists Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Kansas State as the teams he holds in high regard. And even though Chinasa is projected as an instant impact player next season, he still sees room for improvement, at least in one key area.
â€śI have to improve on my strength,â€ť he said. â€śI might want to redshirt my first year so I can get a lot stronger.â€ť
Chinasa is a player who should be able to hold his speed with added weight. As a sophomore, Ugo was a receiver for Berkner, but his team never passed the ball and he decided to make a full-time switch to defensive end.
The original idea behind him being placed at the wide receiver position was based on his outstanding speed. Chinasa, even approaching 230 pounds, runs a legitimate 4.6 40-yard dash.
â€śIâ€™ve had a 4.51 though, too,â€ť added Chinasa.
One of the most exciting aspects about Chinasa playing college football is knowing heâ€™ll be able to unleash that speed. Heâ€™ll be able to go one-on-one with players across from him, instead of the usual double-teams he faces in high school. But because of his speed and versatility, heâ€™s looking for a school that can offer him the best possible opportunity.
â€śIâ€™ll look at the defensive style and how they play,â€ť said Chinasa. â€śWhether theyâ€™re rushing the passer and dropping back in coverage and things like that.â€ť
For the Sooners, theyâ€™ve assigned ace recruiter Brent Venables to Chinasa. Both Venables and Chris Wilson recently traveled to Richardson to get an up-close look.
Chinasa took note of the visit, but he still wants to see and hear more from the OU staff.
â€śThey arenâ€™t calling me as much as everybody else is calling me,â€ť said Chinasa.
Just then, in an ironic twist, as Chinasa continued to talk about Oklahomaâ€™s lack of contact with him â€” the line beeped. Oklahoma was on the other line.
With the Sooners ready to turn up the heat, Chinasa also delivered another positive sign for Bob Stoopsâ€™ program.
â€śI was a fan of Miami, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech growing up,â€ť he said.
Thatâ€™s good news for the Sooners. Miami has had little contact with Chinasa, and as of now, they still havenâ€™t offered a scholarship. And Virginia Tech has never been in the picture.
The struggles of the Sooners this season havenâ€™t seemed to dampen Chinasaâ€™s enthusiasm either. He was even in attendance during the teamâ€™s blowout loss to Texas.
â€śI just feel like maybe I can help them out,â€ť Chinasa said of Oklahoma. â€śI just think of it like that. The people on campus are cool, itâ€™s close to home and their defensive style is good too. The season, them not playing that well, it really hasnâ€™t affected me at all.â€ť
Chinasa has to narrow things down soon as he starts setting up official visits. He currently has plans in the works to visit Oklahoma State during its game with Texas, and Alabama appears to be in the mix for a visit as well.
Itâ€™s would seem a good bet the Sooners will be on that list in the not-too-distant future, as well.
â€śOklahoma, LSU, Oklahoma State, Alabama and maybe Texas,â€ť answered Chinasa, when asked where he would take his five official visits if he had to decide at that very moment.
But he also added, â€śIt probably will change, though.â€ť
When Chinasa finally starts taking his trips to potential college destinations, he has a word of advice for what those schools could do to impress him.
â€śJust be themselves,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™m going to look at the campus, the crowd and how I fit in. I look at the coaches and thatâ€™s about it.â€ť
Until then, Chinasa says heâ€™ll spend his time eating hamburgers and French fries, trying to add weight to his frame. His father will throw in a lot of Nigerian food as well. And heâ€™ll continue to concentrate on his list of schools while working to nail down his final five by the end of the month.
â€śIâ€™ll talk to my parents, but I like college football and Iâ€™ll look at the defensive end spots everywhere to see where I fit in (best),â€ť said Chinasa.
Oklahoma could very well be that place.