Ndukwe Impressive So Far

<P>Freshman wide receiver Chinedum Ndukwe has been a very pleasant surprise so far since reporting to Notre Dame on August 10th. The 6-3, 210-pound Ndukwe has had an outstanding fall camp and appears to be pushing for playing time this year. Ndukwe didn't arrive with a lot of fanfare but expect this freshman to be a factor in the new west coast offense for many years to come. </P>

Ndukwe is known as a hard worker and that work ethic brought him to Notre Dame this summer to get a head start on his Irish career. "I think a lot of the freshmen are physically fit, we have been doing a lot of work over the summer," said Ndukwe. "I was here for four weeks over the summer, working out, lifting, running with Mickey and so was Brady (Quinn). A lot of the freshmen came up, more than they have had in a while so most of us are physically fit. Right now it's just mentally trying to get the routes and plays down pat. We are really working on that right now."

Ndukwe reported to Notre Dame with a familiar face. His high school quarterback Brady Quinn also enrolled at Notre Dame this summer. Their connection has been obvious so far this fall camp but Ndukwe says Quinn will always look for the open receiver. "It's an advantage but he is always going to go with person who's open, that's how it's always been in the past. Hopefully that person will be me but whoever is open he is going to go to. It definitely helps seeing a familiar face everyday and someone who you have grown up with over the past couple of years. It makes you feel that you are almost at home and a lot more comfortable."

Both Ndukwe and Quinn have that winner's attitude and are never satisfied with their play. Ndukwe says a freshman will always feel lost at first. "We are all being hard on ourselves because right now we are at the bottom. It's different, having to ask questions of the older guys. Everybody has a really good work ethic here and you can tell a lot of the guys are frustrated. We know it takes times from being the top dog in school and we are making the adjustment."

Irish Eyes knew Ndukwe had excellent hands but we've been the most impressed with his fluid motion and his surprising speed. "I have always been a fast person even though I was pegged as not having the speed. I think it's different when you see me play in person. I take longer strides but I definitely get there before a lot of other people do. A lot of schools didn't see that and their impression was that I was slow. In my senior year I came here and ran a good time and that is nothing to what I am now."

Ndukwe says the biggest adjustment he has had to make so far is coaching. "So far the difference I have seen between high school and college, with the coaches, is that I am coached a lot more. I had a good coach in high school but he let do what I wanted to do and now, with Coach Miles, everything has to perfect. He stresses perfection in everything and that is what Coach Willingham stresses, and Coach Miles stresses it more. Everything matters and the little things are making a difference right now. That is what I am working on. In high school I almost coached the wide receivers up, if there was a question they came to me."

This freshmen wide receiver class has a lot of talent and we asked Ndukwe if he or any other freshmen receiver is ready to play this year. "No, not yet, we are not at that point yet. I am still trying to grasp the offense; I am confused with the plays. It's a lot different from high school. I am making a gradual improvement but there is so, so much work I need to be doing. The plays, the defenses, stuff I am just not used to. If the opportunity comes up I'll definitely take it but I have a lot of work to do before they even approach me about it."

While the adjustment has been hard, Ndukwe says he's starting to have some fun playing college football. "It's fun. The first couple of days were a little rough but I have been talking to my brothers and my family and they keep encouraging me. It's starting to get better, I am starting to understand a little bit better what I am doing therefore I am starting to have fun. When you don't understand what you are doing you are not going to have fun. I am just trying to learn, the more I learn the more I can compete."

Ndukwe's work ethic, commitment and the expectations surrounding him mirror one current budding star in Omar Jenkins. The similarity between the two is eerie and they even talk very similar—they could be brothers. Ndukwe admits that Omar has already made quite the impression on him. "Omar is our leader by far. You can tell he is a perfectionist and that is what everyone else in the group is trying to be like. We go to him with questions and I definitely look up to him. You know he is consistent and is always going to do what he needs to do. He is someone you can rely on. That is what I want to be like, someone the coaches can rely on to make the play and that I will be in position when the game is on the line. That is where he is right now and that's where I want to be.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories