Listed as the No. 56 defensive end recruit in the country by Scout.com, Onyeali totaled 16 quarterback sacks and approximately 90 tackles as a senior and posted over 100 tackles and 19 sacks as a junior.
Arizona State's incoming freshman certainly has the versatility to play multiple positions, but sees himself playing more defensive end than linebacker. The fact that he may not pass the proverbial eye test for a defensive end is meaningless to him.
"You see that in all positions on the field," Onyeali explained. "People talk about wide receivers who look too short and this and that. To be honest with you I think I have the perfect speed (runs a 4.56 40-yard dash) for defensive end and being that I'm not the biggest guy it's a good thing I'm strong too (bench presses 435 pounds and squats 554).
"I just don't think you have to be 6-6 280 to play that position."
Even though he is an accomplished defensive end, the team's occasional 3-4 alignments will very likely place Onyeali at outside linebacker.
"It's something I talked about with the (ASU) coaches and something I did in high school too," Onyeali commented. "Even though I had my hand down for the most part, playing linebacker in certain packages isn't anything new to me."
Onyeali was recruited by former safeties coach Matt Lubick during the tail end of his junior campaign at Mullen. The first time the defensive end set foot on the Tempe campus was his official visit which took place the same weekend ASU hosted USC.
"It was an amazing visit," Onyeali recalled, "especially being there for the USC game. It was a pretty wild game. Football is football no matter where you go. But the atmosphere at Arizona State off the field was relaxed and I felt very comfortable there."
"In the end I just liked the coaching staff and the conference better at Arizona State," Onyeali noted. "It also came down to the living conditions."
The defensive end's current accommodations are to his liking as well.
"My roommate is Jordan McDonald and it definitely helps to have a defensive end as your roommate," Onyeali noted. "I like it also because he was one of the best defensive ends in Arizona and I was one of the best defensive ends in Colorado. It was good putting us together."
Onyeali believes that his experiences at Mullen can and will make his transition to college football a smooth one since he was always faced with trying to achieve lofty goals.
"Our coaching staff at Mullen created an environment of a college program," Onyeali said. "Our workouts were very hard and our mindset every year was to win the state championship. We weren't satisfied with anything else."
These days as he balances summer school and workouts Onyeali feels comfortable juggling all these activities.
"I have three classes (Critical Thinking being one of them), then I go to study hall and workouts," Onyeali described. "The classes are harder than high school because I'm taking three of them in five weeks. We do lifting and conditioning Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then on Tuesday and Thursday we have (informal) workouts with the team. It's a faster pace in workouts, especially in the weight room. There is no sitting down between reps."
Onyeali is well aware that his high school accolades have in turn created lofty expectations concerning his contributions in his inaugural season of college football. Furthermore, he realizes that he is in a setting that as it is demands excellence from each player, which does nothing but add fuel to the overall expectations on defense.
"I'm trying to gain more knowledge of the game and getting as many reps as I can in our (informal) workouts," Onyeali said. "I know I have a chance to play this year and I'm going to work as hard as I can to get a spot in the rotation.
"Being here for a week you definitely notice that the defense has a lot of energy. You can tell that they have the mentality to be one of the best defenses in the nation. I don't feel pressure to succeed in an environment like that, because this is the way it should be."
Nduka (Junior) Onyeali
High School/Junior College
Mullen (Col.) High School
Date of birth
"Junior. That's the name my family calls me because me and my dad have the same name."
Favorite TV show
"The Godfather trilogy"
Favorite pro team
"Green Bay Packers"
Person you most admire
"My mom because of the way that she raised me and made me the man I am today."
First football memory
"The Monday night game where Favre played the day after his father died. He threw for over 400 yards and won against Oakland and had a great game. The perseverance that he showed will always be stuck in my head as a football memory."
One thing most people don't know about me
"I love to have fun even though I'm serious and sometimes angry on the football field. I'm always having fun."
Why did you choose ASU?
"To win. They had the number one defense in the Pac-10 last year and that's definitely didn't hurt my decision."
Where do you want to be in ten years?
"Hopefully in the NFL. If that doesn't work out I'll be doing something with my Business law degree."