Versatile is the Word on Nwankwo

Height, weight, strength numbers, 40 times…..it's easy to get lost in all the numbers. Hollywood, Florida offensive lineman Emeka Nwankwo might not be the biggest guy out there, but according to head coach Mark Guandolo, the Irish landed one of the very best.

I've always felt it's best to go to the source to find out the facts about things, and who better to ask about the potential of a player than his coach? Chaminade Madonna College Prep high school coach Mark Guandolo says the Irish got a steal in Nwankwo.

"He's 6-foot-4, 280 pounds and just a great athlete for that size," Guandolo said about his star player. "He's got great feet and is a basketball player. He's going to get bigger, stronger, but you can't teach his athleticism. Every coach is looking for a guy who can move like that."

Offensive linemen coming out of high school are usually schooled well in either run blocking or pass blocking. It's rare you find a player who does both equally well.

"We run a multiple offense here," Guandolo explained. "He does a lot of pulling and trapping for us, and he's very good at it. That's where his athleticism comes into play. But he's also very good in pass blocking. He's really good in all aspects of offensive line play. That's why he's going to be great player. Once they add some weight and strength, he'll be a great player there."

Nwankwo saw his stock take off after a fine junior season and an excellent state championship game last season according to Guandolo.

"We won the state championship last year and he really showed up in that game," he said. "He had really started to come on his junior season. He became very confident and really played well. That kind of propelled him because a lot of people watched that game. He just carried that into this year.

"He plays really hard. He'll play to the whistle and is looking for people to hit. He expects a lot of himself, and that shows on the field. He's a hard worker."

Most expect Nwankwo to end up at guard in college. Guandolo says he can play a number of positions at the next level.

"He's very versatile. He could play either guard or tackle, and either side of the line," he explained. "That's rare you can find a guy who can play either, and a guy who can play on either the right or left side. You can plug him anywhere and he'll do a good job."

Like any player, Nwankwo also has room for improvement.

"I'd say getting stronger," Guandolo said when asked where the Hollywood, Fla. native would have to improve his game to get on the field at the next level. "He's going to have to put on some weight and add some strength, but they'll do that no problem up there. He's a great player. He just needs to really hit the weights and he'll get on field."

Being far away from home is never easy for anyone, but Guandolo believes Nwankwo will handle the transition well.

"He's a great kid that comes from a great family," he said. "He's really happy to be a part of Notre Dame. He really liked it when he went there. Academics is a big thing for him, and for his family. He's got a sister who's studying to be a doctor. His younger brother is over a 4.0 student. It's important to his family. He'll fit in well at Notre Dame."

Nwankwo also played at a high level against and with a lot of talent during his high school career according to Guandolo, so the step up from high school to college shouldn't be as large as it is for some high school players jumping up to that next level.

"We've had a lot of great players come through here," Guandolo said. "I've been here seven years. We have two state championships. We fell short in the semi-finals this year. We have two starting linebackers at Miami right now. This year we'll probably have nine players sign Division I or Division IAA scholarships this year. He's battle-tested."


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