Ugo Chinasa: The Silent Leader

From Kendall Hunter to Russell Okung, Oklahoma State has relied on its silent leaders the past several seasons. Hunter and Okung have long embodied the type of player that takes care of business on the field and doesn't elaborate off of it. With Hunter still carrying that reputation on the offense, one Cowboys senior has developed a similar reputation on the other side of the ball.

"Ugo Chinasa, even though he's silent half the time, he's our silent leader," defensive lineman Cooper Bassett said. "He's a great player and he knows everybody's position. It doesn't matter if it's a corner, defensive tackle, linebacker or his own position, he knows what the guy's supposed to do and a lot of the guys look to him when we're out there."

While players might be looking to Chinasa often for on-field assignments, his personal goals for the season might be something his teammates should emulate, as well.

Chinasa's goals for 2010: "Get double-digit sacks, All-Big 12 and probably All-American."

The senior defensive end from Richardson, Texas, has always done his talking on the field, leading OSU with 6.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss a season ago. Chinasa has led all down linemen in tackles for two consecutive seasons. He had perhaps the best game of his career in the Cowboys' Cotton Bowl loss in January when he recorded 2.5 sacks against Ole Miss.

"He's a big, skilled player," corner Andrew McGee said. "He'll be able to go in and get the quarterback, or he'll be able to drop back and do whatever he needs to do. We've seen Ugo get some interceptions and take them all the way to the house, so he's going to be a great factor on the defense."

And a rebuilding Cowboy defense has looked not only to his on-field experience and senior leadership, but also for direction and understanding.

"It's easy when we're out there and running around to get confused and we can always look to Ugo know what to do and, also, he's a playmaker," Bassett said. "He's a great player for us and we know that when we get in the season and need a play, we can look to him make it."

Chinasa has been listed a preseason Rotary Lombardi Award candidate, which honors the nation's top lineman. But it's not just his work in the trenches that has caught the eye of his teammates.

"He does a lot of things that other defensive ends don't do," safety Markelle Martin said. "Most of them don't drop in coverage, most of them can't cover certain guys, but he does it all."

Chinasa said he doesn't mind the low expectations his defense is facing heading into the season, which starts Saturday when the Cowboys host Washington State at 6 p.m.

"It was kind of like that last year too," he said. "Everybody was talking about the offense with Dez (Bryant) and Kendall and then we held Georgia to 10 points and we kept improving on that."

And if Chinasa's steady improvement in his years in Stillwater serves as any indication, Chinasa will be a reliable leader for a younger, faster Cowboy defensive unit. And he's ready to get after the Cougars.

"It's been a slow process, especially during two-a-days," he said. "It felt like months away. But it's right here, right now, so we got to take advantage of it."

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