Oghobaase Ready To Deliver For Duke

By the time the first whistle blows in late summer, it will have been nearly two years since Vince Oghobaase has suited up on game day. Injured and forced to sit out the entire 2005 season, Oghobaase is now ready to prove that all the hype surrounding him on signing day 2004 was both warranted and deserved. TDD spoke with the 6-foot-6, 310 pound defensive tackle about expectations, rehab, and more.

As the only five star recruit in Blue Devil history (at least in the modern age of recruiting), Vince Oghobaase was expected to do it all from the moment he signed his letter of intent. The Hastings High (TX) product enrolled early in Durham so he could take part in 2005's spring practice, and quickly established himself as one of the best players on the entire Blue Devil roster and was the likely opening day starter against East Carolina.

Unfortunately fate had other ideas as a teammate was pushed into Oghobaase during practice, causing a knee injury that would ultimately end his freshman season before it began. Over the course of the spring and summer, Oghobaase would undergo more surgeries in an effort to make sure his eventual debut would be at full strength.

"The first prognosis was optimistic, but they had to go in a second time clean some things up," said head coach Ted Roof of his prized recruit at the time. "No one wants him on the field more than me, but we're not going to rush anyone to play before they are ready."

Now, after completing the entire regiment of spring practice injury free, Oghobaase is ready to deliver on the promises he made when he picked the Blue Devils over perennial powers such as Miami, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and many others.

"It's been almost a year and a half of rehabbing and watching," said Oghobaase. "I am really rusty, but it's good to get my feet under me and my hands working again. I'm still trying to sharpen my skills back and get my technique where it needs to be, but it's coming."

While he may not be as sharp as he'd like, Oghobaase is still pretty good – something that any onlooker of this year's spring practices will tell you. In positional drills he's displaying quickness that seems almost out of place for someone who stands 6'6 and weighs over 300 pounds. When he's hitting the sleds, they are thrown more than they are pushed. And when he's lining up intra-squad scrimmages? Let's just say that both Marcus Jones and Zack Asack appear happy to have green jerseys on.

And while "VO" is certainly re-establishing himself as one of the premier players on the Blue Devil roster, he's also quick to point out that he's merely a cog a defensive line that is projected as one of the biggest strengths of the entire 2006 season.

"The entire defensive line is like a family. We're all really close. There's no real pressure for us, but we know that we are expected to be a strong point of this year's team. It's what drives us. It's a real benefit to have so many talented players coming back in addition to those of us who missed last year."

This season Oghobaase will be on display in a number of roles on the defensive line. With the Blue Devils sporting legitimate players across the line on the two-deep roster, Vince says he expects to show some versatility as he and his teammates move around from time to time.

"With our depth, I think you'll see me lined up at nose tackle, defensive tackle, and some defensive end."

Versatility was not something that Oghobaase could count on when he arrived on campus. And though it was painful to sit out 2005, the redshirt year has been beneficial on a number of fronts.

"It was hard, but in a way the injury may have been a good thing for me. I had a chance to get my feet under me and really learn the system. I'm a lot stronger in my upper body thanks to the weight program. I've also lost a lot of bad weight. When I came in I was around 340, but now I'm down to 310 and I'm stronger."

Looking at his situation from a ‘glass half full' perspective is something Oghobaase prides himself on, but he's gotten some help with that from his childhood friend and now college teammate, Mike Tauiliili. But, that's nothing new.

"Mike and I have been best friends since grade school. He's always there to pick me up and to push me when I need it. I mean you look at him, and he doesn't have great size, but he's out there always looking to hit someone and bash through blocks. It's why he so successful – that's infectious."

Oghobaase is hoping that Tauiliili's infectious desire and attitude continues to radiate throughout the roster this summer and through fall practice, before coming to a head when the Blue Devils kick off the 2005 season at home against Richmond on September 2nd.

"We're really looking forward to that night. It's been a year and a half of working hard and now it's time to stop talking and play. It's time to get this program some wins."

Indeed it is. And Vince Oghobaase is going to be a huge part of that.

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