Midseason Update: Ebele Okakpu

A dominating defense led by North Carolina pledge Ebele Okakpu has Roswell (Ga.) still on track to repeat as GHSA 5A champions.

"We believe in the bend but don't break philosophy," Okakpu said. "They can get all the yards they want, but as long as they don't score we're fine. We make turnovers when we need to."

Limiting opponents from scoring seems to be Roswell's forte. The Hornets have only allowed one team to score more than a touchdown and have a shutout on their resume.

Okakpu is the centerpiece of the defense at middle linebacker. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has contributed to Roswell's opportunist defensive efforts by forcing two fumbles and recovering five fumbles.

Two weeks back, though, Roswell had a slight hiccup when they lost to rival Marietta (Ga.) Walton, 10-7.

"It was a tough loss," said Okakpu. "We lost by three. Their kicker hit a 58-yard field goal."

Okakpu believes the loss might have been a good thing for their championship hopes.

"I think it just motivates us even more," said Okakpu. "Last year we had one loss. After that, we pretty much blew everyone else out of the water – hopefully we can do that."

Okakpu, who verbally committed to UNC in early August, speaks to Tar Heel assistant Tommy Thigpen, his primary recruiter, weekly.

"We talked about other players we'd liked to get to come to North Carolina," said Okakpu. "They're looking at one of my teammates – a cornerback Dominique Wheeler."

Thigpen discussed Okakpu's UNC official visit, which he said Okakpu could take any time.

Okakpu, who has yet to visit Chapel Hill for a game, hopes to soak in the game-time atmosphere of Kenan Stadium this season. However, he hasn't set any definite plans.

Okakpu, though, has "watched most of [UNC's] games" on television this fall.

"They're doing pretty good," he said. "Most of their losses are close losses. It's not like they're getting blown out or anything. Against Virginia Tech, it was a pretty close game."

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