How in the world does someone who doesn't become legal to drive a car until June 2003, receive scholorship offers from ACC, C-USA and SEC programs? Not to mention as a defensive tackle.
The thought of a young man that age lining up on the defensive line in Division I football is nearly impossible to believe. That was until I visited with both Okoye and the Lee High School football coach, David O'Connor.
Okoye's story began over three years ago when his father moved to the United States from Nigeria to find work and a better life for his family. Shortly after, Amobi and the rest of his family joined him in Huntsville, Alabama.
His mother found employment within the Huntsville school system, which allowed the then 12-year old to begin school earlier than most students. As the regular school year approached, Amobi tested out 2 grade levels higher than others his age.
"He's a very bright young man," explained David O'Connor, head football coach at Lee High School. "He is awfully mature for his age, both in the classroom and on the football field."
While in the ninth grade, Amobi tried out and made the the high school football team. At a time when most 12-year olds are playing kick ball or pickup basketball after school, Amobi was working out on the football field and in the wieght room.
His work ethic has helped him garner attention that most 17-year old seniors never receive. As a junior and only 14 years old, Okoye was named All-State honorable mention. He continued to improve in his final year, garnering first team All-State honors for his efforts as both an offensive and defensive lineman.
"I've always believed that if you want to play that you have to give it all you've got," said Okoye. "It's a war on the field and you always have to be prepared to battle."
Okoye, who has a 3.5 GPA, also believes that determination in the classroom also helps him on the football field during games.
"I know that my hardwork in class also gives me an edge during games," continued Okoye. "I have been able to take my desire to learn into the games. It has helped me to gain a better understanding of the game and what to expect. You always have to mentally ready."
Throughout his high school career Okoye quickly became familiar with the Louisville football program. For the past three years, Coach O'Connor has brought his football team to summer camps at U of L football facility.
"During the past three years we have camped at Louisville and he has grown to really like the Louisville program and the area," said O'Connor of Okoye. "The coaches prior to Petrino actually offered him a scholorship last year when he was only 14."
New U of L assistant Joe Whitt, Jr. made Okoye one of his first phone calls and informed him that he was still very much wanted at Louisville.
While making his official visit to the U of L campus on January 17, the new coaching staff extended an offer to Okoye. However Okoye decided to wait until he returned home before making a decision.
"I enjoyed my visit," explained Okoye. "I really like the facilities a lot, as well as what they have to offer in academics. I want to study orthopedics and they a good program for that."
On Monday, Okoye (6'2, 290) placed a call to Petrino and informed him that he had decided to accept the offer and become a Cardinal.
"I called him on Monday and told him I was coming," said Okoye. "He was happy about it and said that he liked my attitude about everything."
As a senior he recorded 60 total tackles, including 9 sacks, proving that he has both the size and ability to compete and having yet turned 16, he also has more development to come. Watching Okoye continue to develop should be one of many future stories for Louisville football fans to enjoy.
"He's big and strong," said O'Connor. "He would do well anywhere. The fans up there will really enjoy watching him."
Okoye committed to Louisville over offers from Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Clemson, UAB, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.