Ohio Star Odenigbo Has Illini Roots

Just like last year, Illinois is hitting the recruiting trail early and making offers to potential targets all across the country. One of their recent offers went out to an electric pass rusher from the state of Ohio.

Ifeadi Odenigbo. Before you try to pronounce that, here's a crash course on how to say it correctly. If-oddy Oh-denny-bo. Now that you have that down, here's a little bit of an autobiography from Odenigbo himself. He plays football at Centerville, Ohio.

"I started playing my sophomore year. Our defensive line was good, but we really lacked a pass rush. Our team destroyed the run, but in passing situations we struggled. I didn't play sophomore year at all. I was awful. I was clueless about football.

"I was more experienced after sophomore year. I worked on my strength this year. I went hard in the weight room then. For track I'm a sprinter, so that I can keep my weight up.

"Going into the season, I wanted to be the guy that got the pass rush on. I wasn't really the guy who could play the run. So I would have our D-Line guys help on the run, and then on the pass rush I had speed and could make up for it."

A lot of football players take time to develop, but Odenigbo really sped up the learning curve. Part of that is due to his natural athleticism and great track speed.

"Colleges really like my speed. Coaches really like the pressure I can put on a quarterback, and the a great D-Line is the start of a great defense."

Different schools want Odenigbo at different positions on defense. His versatility allows him to project to multiple spots on the field.

"Really it depends on the system. I just want to help the team out. A lot of people told me outside linebacker because I'm undersized. And a linebacker can be faster than a defensive end. Schools with a 3-4 defense, I'd play an outside linebacker that would blitz a lot then sometimes drop in coverage.

"At Cincinnati I'd play defensive end, but I'd have to put on more weight. If I played defensive end in a 4-3 scheme I'd want to redshirt."

A blend of both defensive end and linebacker, the Bandit position at Illinois could really utilize Odenigbo's talents quite well.

"Illinois told me I'd be playing stand-up and on the ground. I think they called it 'Bandit.' Syracuse wants me at a hybrid too."

Recruiting has taken off rapidly for Odenigbo, who has pulled in numerous offers in just the past week.

"Right now I have 11 offers. Three on Monday, I got my most recent from Illinois on Tuesday."

Not only did he live in Illinois for a few years, Odenigbo has a special connection to Illinois that starts right in the home.

"I'm interested in Illinois. I'm actually from Decatur, and my dad went to University of Illinois. Sometimes I forget my dad went to Illinois. He really liked it there, but he's fine with any college and is happy for me.

My parents were born and raised in Nigeria. I was born in New Jersey, and I lived in Illinois up until about second grade."

Odenigbo plans to visit the campus sometime this summer.

"I've never been to the Illinois campus before, but my dad was pretty excited when I got an offer there. Northwestern offered too. So chances are I'll hit both campuses sometime on the same visit."

With the way Odenigbo talks, football is more of a hobby than a career. His parents both value education and have raised him to believe that a good education is the foundation for the rest of his life.

"I really want a good academics program since I know I won't be playing football my whole life. I'm leaning toward two things. My mom is a pediatrician, and I really love children.

"I know the medical field is extremely hard, and having football along with it would be really tough. If that doesn't work I'd probably do something with physical therapy or economics."

Illinois assistant coach Jeff Brohm was actually the one to break the good news about an Illini offer to Odenigbo through his high school coach at Centerville.

"Coach (Ron) Ullery, my football coach, told me that Illinois and Coach Brohm had offered me."

Though he is eager to head west and see both Illinois and Northwestern, he will be hard pressed for free time until the summer due to his other extracurricular commitments.

"I'll probably wait until the summer to take the visits since I'm so busy with track right now."

Odenigbo has plans to see one California school that is traditionally known for high academic standards. And other Midwest schools are high on his agenda as well.

"I know for sure that I'm going to visit Stanford. Beside that I'm just likely going to visit places like Indiana that are close. Notre Dame hasn't offered yet but I'll probably visit them February 26 for their junior day. They really like my film, and I have a feeling that they're going to offer me."

Chances are Odenigbo will know where he's headed before his senior season, but he isn't going to rush his decision.

"I think I'm going to make my decision at the end of the summer after the unofficials. But if I can't make my mind up by then, I'll decide around the end of the season. I don't want to spend my senior season distracted by all of that."

At the rate he's picking up offers, Odenigbo will have quite a list to choose from when he makes his decision. Given the circumstances, one has to believe Illinois will always be on his mind.

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