Ndukwe Finally Feels Set at Safety

Chinedum Ndukwe does not makes excuses for the struggles of the secondary last season. It was a bumpy ride most of the time for the unit that gave up over 280 yards per game. On the bright side, things can only get better.

"We're positive because what else are you suppose to think when you are one hundred out of one hundred of whatever we were in the country," Ndukwe said. "We were pretty bad last year. Nothing to hide about that."

Insert Charlie Weis and his new staff, including new secondary coach Bill Lewis from the Miami Dolphins. With so much struggles last year, Lewis had an interesting thought on revamping the cornerbacks.

"We have an expression here," Lewis said. "If they don't know it, we haven't taught them."

The new staff impresses Ndukwe, the redshirt junior safety from Powell, Ohio. With Lewis having vast NFL experience, one can only respect what that person has to say. Lewis doesn't always take the nice approach either.

"He's a guy that will coach you hard," Ndukwe said. "He definitely coaches hard. You have to respect him because he has so much experience. When he talks, you have to listen. He's that type of guy. Everyone has a lot of respect for him. He's definitely fiery."

Changing positions seems like part of an every year deal. He was recruited as a wide receiver out of high school. Ndukwe saw action in 12 games as a freshman but mostly on special teams. As a sophomore, he was moved to safety but failed to see significant action. In the spring time, he experimented at the new Apache linebacker spot but has since returned to the safety spot for fall camp. Ndukwe hopes this switch is final.

"Hopefully this is my last switch," Ndukwe said. "I've been bouncing around for a couple of years now. I think it's set in stone. I think it's more about what is best for our team. I think we have a better lineup with me being at safety than at Apache. I think that I was moved there because it worked a little better with our team in the first place. Changes were made. People get moved around."

With the move from safety to Apache linebacker back to safety, it's tough for someone like Ndukwe to keep a steady weight. The media guide has him listed at 225 pounds but he says his target weight is 220. Nevertheless, it all depends upon the speed.

"I just think it's more about speed and quickness," Ndukwe said. "The coaches say I have it. So I'm going to be all right being back there. I just make sure to keep my weight down this year. They don't want me to be too big. They want me to be able to run. Bottom line, you have to be able to move. You have to be able to cover the receiver coming at you. If I can't do that, I won't be on the field."

That ability to run is a major factor in what Weis and defensive coordinator Rick Minter envision for this group.

"They are going to be flying to the ball," Weis said. "One thing I found, no matter what level of football you play, if you got 11 guys flying to ball, you always got a chance. Because even if you make a mistake, if you're making it full speed, it looks a lot better than when you are out there not knowing what you are doing."

Ndukwe is buying into this approach.

"We have an attitude of it being 11 versus 1," Ndukwe said. "11 guys on defense versus they guy who has the ball. After every single play, we try to break it down. Just keeping that mindset of getting everyone to the ball. I think that's going to help us a lot this year."

After last season's struggles, Ndukwe likes what he has seen from his teammates. The work ethic was there in the off-season and the coaching staff has the tools and experience to make the needed adjustments. Now, it is just a matter of taking what he saw on film and applying it at fall camp.

"The good thing that this coaching staff did is, we made a lot of video tapes," Ndukwe said. "They weren't actually physically there but it was on us to take the initiative and get in the video room. We got together as a defensive unit and went into individual units. I think that helps us a lot coming into camp."

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