Troy Verde/Total Blue Sports

BYU's offensive line should be deeper and more versatile than it has been in a while according to sophomore left tackle J.J. Nwigwe

The reports from Cougar offensive linemen coming out of fall camp is that this group will be bigger and stronger than it was last year as BYU heads to face the Arizona Wildcats in the “Cactus Kickoff” tomorrow night in Glendale, AZ. Unlike last year, BYU's offensive line will have one thing it didn't last year and that's depth. The Cougars will bring 11 quality offensive linemen ready to face the Wildcats.

Coming in at 6-5, 278-pounds, J.J. Nwigwe is a big boy from a state that boasts of having big things. From Texas to Utah, Nwigwe has enjoyed his time being at BYU.

"Oh, it's been great, a blast, and an awesome experience being out here at BYU," said Nwigwe. "I love it out here! I wouldn't trade it for the world. I really love it out here.

"It's nice but it was kind of weird coming from Dallas, Texas to Provo, Utah. Number one, the altitude change is something. I thought I was in pretty good shape running around out there in Dallas and then I came up here and got my eyes opened up. Also, it's a bit cooler here in Utah and my first winter was brutal for me. That game last year against Utah State was brutal for me. That was the coldest thing I've ever experienced in my life, but the transition change here at BYU was great. Everyone is so kind and loving and they welcome you with open arms here. It's been really nice here in Provo."

Playing the left tackle position, Nwigwe, a sophomore, has been focusing on mastering the position by soaking up the technical knowledge of BYU offensive line coach Mike Empey.

"Right now I'm trying to learn the left tackle position and that's my focus," said Nwigwe. "Coach Empey is really good at helping us to learn great technique, and if you have great technique you can basically win every battle. That's been our focus along with getting bigger, stronger, and faster."

Nwigwe is battling with senior SUU transfer Andrew Eide who comes in at around 6-5, 301 pounds for the left tackle starting spot. Eide and Nwigwe both will travel to Arizona for the Cougar's match up against the Arizona Wildcats. Left guard Kyle Johnson, who is one of the more experienced players on the offensive line, hasn't been practicing all fall camp due to an injury he's been battling. Nwigwe gives a rundown of an offensive line that is deeper position-wise than it was last year.

"Next to me and Andrew Eide at left guard is Keyan Norman and Jacob Jimenez," said Nwigwe. "I've been getting first team reps over fall camp, but we have that big man [Andrew Eide] over there and he's a monster. Then at center we have Tejan Koroma and Parker Dawe, who played center last year for us. Parker has also gotten some reps at right guard as well this fall. Then at right guard we have Tuni Kanuch. Then at right tackle we have Ului Lapuaho and Thomas Shoaf.

"It's a lot different for us this year. Last we have guys go down and we were left with five guys playing with pretty much no one behind them with game time experience. This year we'll have around 11 guys heading down to Arizona and I'm comfortable that anyone of us could step in and get the job done. It's a lot different this year."

Not only will BYU field a deeper position group up front but according to Nwigwe a more cohesive unit as well.

"To be honest with you, I think we're the most together position group," said Nwigwe. "We all love each other and joke around with each other, but at the end of the day we all know it's all out of love. We're really together and it's good to know that I can look to my right and be like, 'Okay what's going on here and there?' and they can talk back to me. If I need any one of these guys outside of football, I can call them and they'll come to me."

When it comes to his position coach, Nwigwe has nothing but glowing remarks for Mike Empey.

"At first I kind of had my thoughts and was wondering about him," said Nwigwe. "He's a great guy and I love him as my coach. He's the type of guy that doesn't yell at you but will try to get you to be the best you can be. He'll help you learn and grow as a lineman and will never give up on you. That's what I love about him is he'll drill you with technique and will never give up on you until you've perfected it.

"He's really close to us and invites us to his house to feed us, and if you want to win an offensive lineman's heart you go through his stomach. So, that's always great. He's the type of guy that you can talk to about football stuff or family matters. You can just go to him and he's always understanding. He wants the best for us and you can see it. Everyday he tells us he loves us, and that's something you can see by how he coaches and how he interacts with us every day."

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