Irish Target Ohio Duo
“We had an outstanding defensive front four last year,” said Ullery. “We had Michael Bennett who’s going to Ohio State, Kyle Rose who’s going to West Virginia, and our other d-lineman, who I believe is a D-I caliber type of player, but he’s only 5-foot-10, and then you have Ifeadi."
Odenigbo stands 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, and has been attracting plenty of offers from some of the nation’s top schools such as Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, and North Carolina just to name a few.
“I think he’s still kind of in shock at all the attention he’s receiving,” said the head coach. “He didn’t play football as a freshman because he wasn’t allowed to. He’s a good student, but his parents wanted to make sure he could do high-school level class work before he started playing sports. That means he’s only been playing football his sophomore and junior years, and I don’t think he ever dreamed he was a college-level football player until these offers started coming in from these large BCS schools.”
Even though he hasn’t played very long, Odenigbo's body of work on the gridiron has spoken enough for most schools.
“Ifeadi is a very talented player who is just now really learning how to play football,” said Ullery. “He’s an outstanding football player now, but he’s going to be way beyond outstanding in a couple years. He’s got a ton of speed. He’s right around 6-foot-4, 215 to 220 pounds, but he’s a legitimate 4.4 to 4.5 range threat in speed. I mean he anchors our 4x100 relay team in track that will probably make it to state again this year.
"The speed is what catches everybody’s eye, but he also uses leverage very well and he’s a tough kid who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there. He uses his hands very well and he’s got a great motor. He’s got a lot going for him as an edge rusher and outside linebacker type in a 3-4 defense."
Why is Odenigbo just catching on now with schools?
“Ifeadi kind of flew under the radar last year as the result of all of these other guys playing with him," explained Ullery. "He was such a complement to them with his speed. The other two were very athletic, tough and are going to be great collegiate defensive linemen, but Ifeadi has that explosive speed of the edge which makes him real special.”
Odenigbo will be honing his skill further this year on the football field, but it will be interesting to see what he’ll need to work on at the next level.
“I think it depends on the school that he picks,” the Centerville head coach said. “He has never been a two-point stance guy, and a lot of schools are looking at him as a hybrid defensive end in a two-point stance, coming off the edge in passing situations, and dropping in coverage sometimes. He’ll obviously have to work on that, and he will do some of that for us this year for the first time.”
With such a promising player on the defensive side of the ball, it has made some Centerville practices pretty entertaining. Watching Odenigbo line up across from fellow Division I prospect Benny McGowan should probably be shown on pay-per-view.
“They both love challenges, and they want to play at the highest level,” said coach Ullery. “They have some great battles in practice that are very fun to watch.”
McGowan stands around 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, and has already started drawing attention from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
“He’s a very physical player,” said Ullery. “The thing that stands out to me about Benny as much as anything, is how low he plays. I mean he’s a 6-foot-4, 290-pound kid, who’s just thick, not fat by any means, and he plays so low. He’s very coachable and he’s very physical. He loves the physical aspect of football. I think he’s going to be a guard or a center in college.”
According to his coach, McGowan doesn’t know anything but hard work.
“If you watched him all year long, whether it’s football or track, he always gave it his all, “said coach Ullery. “He’s a 3.7 GPA guy who is in a tough curriculum here at Centerville and that’s the way he approaches everything. He’s not a half-speed type of guy and his attitude seems to be, ‘If I’m going to do something, I might as well do it the best I can and find out how good I can be at it.’ That attitude carries over to football and he never takes a play off, even in practice.
“He played all of last year with a high ankle sprain that he got in week one. He was probably only 70 to 90 percent all year, and he never missed a practice or game. He’s just a very tough kid.”
There is definitely one thing that McGowan will need to improve on when he makes that next step in competition.
“I believe he will have to work on the same thing all linemen have to work on at the next level, pass protection,” said the Centerville coach. “Offensive linemen in high school, for the most part, are not very good pass blockers. Even at schools that throw the ball a lot, the lineman need to improve on their footwork and how they use their hands at the next level. I’m sure Benny will be the same in needing to learn the finer points of pass blocking.”
Both prospects will have some fine schools to choose from and one possible destination could be South Bend.
“Obviously they have great tradition there and that is the first thing that pops out at you,” said Ullery. “Ifeadi and Benny will be coming from a high school that also has a great tradition, built by a lot of great players. I believe that is one of the things they’ll be looking for, a tradition-rich school, because they are used to that. I think that bodes well for schools like Notre Dame and Ohio State who they are really seriously looking at.”