Signee Update: Ebele Okakpu

Focused on his future college career, North Carolina signee Ebele Okakpu has declined to participate in any sports since his senior football season and has chosen to work out at XPE Sports.

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XPE (Extreme Performance Enhancement) Sports was founded by Tony Villani, who has worked as the strength coach for the Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic. XPE's clientele includes many NFL players such as Hines Ward, Jamal Lewis, and Takeo Spikes.

"My friend and I were working out and then he asked me to come in and try it out and I liked it," Okakpu said. "I know the guy that pretty much runs the place and he said I can pretty much just workout with them."

Okakpu, a 6-foot-2 linebacker from Roswell (Ga.), has been following the routine UNC's strength and conditioning staff sent him. He is also incorporating some exercises found in XPE's program.

"It's mostly different running stuff – like agility work," Okakpu said.

Okakpu says he's up to 217 pounds and is aiming to get into the 220-225-pound range before his June 15 campus arrival. His academic transcript has already passed the NCAA Clearinghouse.

The initial plan is for the UNC coaching staff to give Okakpu a chance at playing time rather than redshirting him this fall.

"Coach Thigpen told me I could possibility see the field this year if I work hard," Okakpus said.

According to Okakpu, Thigpen projects him as a WILL (weakside linebacker) in UNC's linebacking corps.

As a sophomore, Okakpu played strongside linebacker for Roswell, but was moved to the middle heading into his junior season. He remained in the middle for his senior season.

"There's less coming at you [when you're on the outside]," Okakpu said. "There's a lot more space to deal with and a lot more responsibility in the passing game."

During his senior season, Okakpu posted 151 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown in the playoffs. As a junior, he had 121 tackles including nine for loss and three sacks, helping lead his team to the state championship game.

Ideally, Okakpu said he would like to continue to wear his high school jersey No. 2 in college.

Ebele Okakpu Profile

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