Irondale's Chichi Ojika Gets Gopher Attention

Chichi Ojika, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound running back from Irondale (MN) High, is perhaps the state's fastest rusher. Ojika, the state's 200 meter dash champion, has received recruiting interest from Minnesota in both football and track and field. GoldenSports.Net caught up with Irondale head coach Ben Geisler to learn the latest on his recruitment.

Chichi Ojika has helped pace the Knights to a 5-1 start as they have one of the top rushing attacks in the state with a strong offensive line, led by junior Jimmy Gjere, who has been offered a scholarship by Minnesota.

Ojika is a first-generation United States citizens whose parents moved here from Nigeria. His parents both ran track in their native land and Ojika has carried that tradition. He helped pace the Knight to Irondale's first boys' track and field North Suburban Conference championship since 2004 last year.

Ojika helped Irondale's 4x100 relay team finish third in the state as a freshman and the 4x200 team finish fourth as a sophomore.

Ojika helped Irondale finish second in the 2007 state track and field meet. He finished third in the 100 meter dash (10.76) and won the 200-meter (21.95). The Knight finished fourth in the 4 x 100 meter relay (43.08).

Ojika helped lead the Knights to a 7-2 mark last season. He scored six touchdowns in a 56-8 win over St. Louis Park as he ran for scores of one, 35 and one yard, caught touchdown passes of 36 and one yards and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

This season, Ojika has continued his strong play. Ojika had a first half 45-yard rushing touchdown against North Branch in a 51-0 win. Ojika scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and kicked a 31-yard field goal. His touchdowns came on a 66-yard reception, a one-yard run and a 45-yard punt return.

Ojika had 333 yards rushing and five touchdowns in Irondale's victories over Spring Lake Park and Robbinsdale Cooper. In the Spring Lake Park game, Ojika ran for 201 yards, including touchdown runs of 26 and 58 yards. Against Cooper, he had 132 yards rushing, ran for scores of 45 and five yards and also caught a 52-yard touchdown pass.

Ojika was held to just 23 yards in the team's lone loss to Totino-Grace 46-22.

Ojika, who just turned 18, has a 35-inch vertical, runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and has bench pressed 260 pounds.

Irondale head coach Ben Geisler has high praise for his star running back.

"He is something special. He is the real deal. Honestly, he is the best running back I have ever seen. Personally, I think that he is the best back in the state. The thing with him is that we are a pretty balanced attack on offense, so he only gets about nine touches a game, but he is averaging like 14 yards a carry. He is a freak, an absolute freak. I have never seen a kid like him."

Ojika has recruiting interest in both track and field and football, but Geisler feels that his star player is leaning towards playing on the gridiron.

"He wants to play football. That is what he wants to do, but he has not been offered a football scholarship because he is small. I know that he has been offered some track scholarships. If he keeps doing what he has been doing, he is going to get a scholarship and he is going to play football. That is kind of what he wants to do and if he runs track, he runs track. He is the fastest kid in the state. Why schools aren't after him more than they are, I just do not understand, because he is awesome."

Geisler said that Ojika is getting looks from several Division I looks.

"He has been asked to walk-on for the Gophers and for Wisconsin, but both of them said that they do not have a scholarship for him. So now, he is looking at North Dakota State, University of North Dakota, Iowa State, Northern Illinois and some of the smaller D1 A schools."

Geisler said that Ojika is getting plenty of interest from college track teams.

"Track-wise, he is hearing from everyone. He is getting letters from everyone. The Gophers already offered him a scholarship. All the Big Ten schools are on him for track."

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