Nwankwo Envisions Life As A Student

Emeka Nwankwo didn't get a chance to see everything Notre Dame's campus had to offer when he made his official and only visit to the school back in September, so he took advantage when in town for the Blue-Gold game, April 21st weekend. The Miramar, Fla., product and future Irish defensive linemen flew into South Bend that Thursday and stayed in the same dorm Gary Gray and Armando Allen live.

Emeka Nwankwo didn't go to class, but other than that, he tried to act like he was already a student that Thursday and Friday. Soon enough he will be.

"I was just watching how everybody goes to school and stuff like that," Nwankwo said. "I tried to put myself in a situation as if I was really there. I tried to see everything because when I went on my trip, it was more like they took me here and they took me there. This time I was able to walk around and see things for myself. I got to see a lot more, and I liked what I saw."

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Nwankwo liked what he saw from the team during the Blue-Gold game capping off Notre Dame's spring camp, and is very excited to join the fold come June. He is eager to get rolling at defensive end, a position he hasn't played regularly since his sophomore year of high school.

Nwankwo's prep career began as a defensive lineman at North Miami Beach, where he started along the defensive line. As a junior, he transferred to Chaminade-Madonna Prep where he starred as an offensive lineman, and originally verbally committed to Notre Dame thinking he was going to help the Irish move the football. When the Irish missed on a few key defensive linemen in last year's recruiting class, Nwankwo was one of the guys that stepped up and said he'd move to defense.

"I'm glad I'm playing defensive end," Nwankwo said. "I felt it was a good decision to move me to the defensive line. My quickness off the ball is one of my strengths and my speed. I use my hands well. I think I could produce on either side of the ball.

"I played a little bit of defensive end this year, and a little bit last year, but it was not a major role."

Signing day was the first time Nwankwo had ever talked to new defensive coordinator Corwin Brown, and that's the day he found out defensive end would be his position. Since signing, he has stayed in good contact with Brown and assistant coach Bernie Parmalee, who recruited him.

Shortly after signing, Nwankwo received his playbook and workout regiment from the Irish staff. He has had to call Brown and Parmalee a couple times to ask questions.

"The terminology is real different," Nwankwo said. "I still don't understand it, so I call them every once in a while. They say don't worry about it because when I come into camp, they will explain it in more detail. I will have time to learn it."

Nwankwo lost 15 pounds since starting the workout program Irish strength and conditioning coordinator Ruben Mendoza sent.

"It's intense, its different," Nwankwo stated. "More reps, more weight, it's different. My body was more tired and drained than ever, I can tell you that.

"But I've put on good muscle and it shows."

All this work in hoping to show the Irish coaches he belongs in the mix right away.

"I'm trying to help the team win a National Championship," Nwankwo said. "We want a top-ranked defense, and we don't want to be looked at as a team that can't hold it down in the fourth quarter. I want to play this year. I want to make my role big, I want to be a big impact on the team."

Getting a chance to imitate a student a couple weeks ago has made Nwankwo want it even more.

"The trip was more than I expected. I got to see all the players coming in next year. I got to talk to a lot of fans, and talk to a lot of players. I didn't think I would get a chance to talk with a lot of players. They welcomed me and everything."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories