IU Coach Terry Hoeppner is once again hard at work to keep his promise of recruiting players from the state of Indiana. This time he has his eye on Indianapolis Warren Central H.S. center Jason Onyebuagu.
The 6'1", 303-pound center was offered a scholarship early in the recruiting process, as Hoeppner made the choice when he and Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch visited Warren Central at the end of the 2004-05 school year.
"Coach Hoeppner came to my school and I got to meet him in person," said Onyebuagu. "It was only a handshake then, but I actually got to go down to Indiana and I got to talk to him for a while. He was a real nice guy. He's laid back and he's always got a joke. I liked that because it showed he's not uptight, he's relaxed."
Onyebuagu has been a big part of helping lead Warren Central to back-to-back state titles and a combined 28-2 record during the last two seasons. He'll be a third-year starter this fall, having started at center as a sophomore while splitting time between center and guard a year ago for Coach Kevin Wright's squad. An all-state pick as a junior, Onyebuagu has excellent athleticism for a player his size, something that has a handful of programs from around the Midwest showing interest.
But it's the Hoosiers that currently reside at the top of his list. In addition to his IU offer, Onyebuagu also has offers from Ball State, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.
"My favorites right now are IU, Northern Illinois, Purdue and Ball State," said Onyebuagu. "It's not going to make or break it for me, but it would be nice to stay somewhere close to home."
Onyebuagu knows Indiana missed out on offensive linemen in the class of 2005 and sees it as an opportunity to get some early action. It is also what makes Indiana so intriguing to the center.
"Playing time is going to be a big factor for me," said Onyebuagu. "I want a chance to come in early and play. I want to find a school that has a good football program and will give me a chance to compete from the get go.
"They told me last season's recruiting class was more of a skill-player type of class and this year is going to be more linemen. That's good for me. I'll get an earlier opportunity to work for a job. I think that might be the reason that they are one of my favorites right now. I have a better chance to play sooner at IU."
Going into his senior season, Onyebuagu is looking to improve one part of his game.
"I want to improve my pass blocking," said Onyebuagu. "We don't really pass a lot at Warren Central. A lot of coaches want to know if I'll be able to do that. I think this year we're going to add a little spread offense into the playbook so I'll have a chance to work on that a little more. That will be one of my main focuses because I know that is an important part of the college game."
While Onyebuagu has ruled out many of the teams on his list early, he is still mulling over his decision and is most likely not going to make a choice before the summer is over.
"At first I was going to commit by the end of the summer," said Onyabuagu. "But now I'm thinking about picking in the middle of the fall. I really don't want to wait until the end of the football season, but I might go a little into the fall to decide."
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