"Gwacham is undeniably a freakish athlete," said Fowler
Also a track star, Gwacham was one of the top jumpers in his state clearing 6'10 in the high jump and 48'0 in the triple jump -- both top marks in the Arcadia Invitational in April of 2008. His prep coach is unabashed when talking about his ceiling.
"We could be looking at an NFL player here, " Ayala head coach Tom Inglima told Fowler, "He has been under the radar but he's really a special athlete."
Gwacham wasn't always out of sight and mind. Before his junior season USC and other elite programs were interested in him, but a broken collarbone forced him to miss 2007. As a result Gwacham fell off many school's radars.
Plus, Gwacham snagged just 13 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns, good for second team All-Sierra League honors, but not impressive enough for the Trojans to come running. As is often the case in high school, low numbers didn't have as much to do with skill, Gwacham was simply on a team that ran, ran, ran the ball -- they threw the pigskin a paltry 62 times the entire season.
"He has yet to play in an offense capable of throwing him much more than jump balls," Fowler said. "He only had 13 catches in his varsity career because he wasn't on the field as a junior when Ayala employed a quarterback that is now playing at Northern Colorado."
WHILE MOST FANS are dreaming of fade routes in the endzone for Gwacham Mike Riley and his staff are thinking he might end up on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re taking a run on (Gwacham’s) potential,” Riley told The Portland Tribune. “When he fills out, he could play defensive end. He’s a big, tall kid who can run and has athletic ability.”
Riley said Gwacham reminds him of current defensive end Matt LaGrone, who stands at 6-6 as well -- and don't forget the OSU coaches did an excellent job helping Slade Norris convert from a receiver to linebacker to eventually one of the most deadly defensive ends in the Pac-10 this past season.
THE PLAN FOR GWACHAM, whose brother Nnamdi plays receiver at Utah State, will be to grayshirt and enroll in January of 2010. And that seems good for both parties as OSU likely doesn't have a scholarship available for him until then and Gwacham has plenty of work to do in the weight room.But when you talk about potential, said Fowler, Gwacham is one of those guys up near the very front of the discussion line.
"With a 6-foot-6 frame and his jumping capability, he's got an extremely high ceiling." Fowler said. "I saw glimpses of what he is capable of, but he's a project that's going to take at least a couple of years to develop.
"Like any kid dealing with a growth spurt, it's going to take some time to regain all his coordination.
"But once he does, all the physical tools are in place for him to be a big time player."
- Gwacham was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States when he was 7 years old.
- Fowler on Gwacham - "Gwacham reminds me of a Plaxico Burress type of player. He looks a little out of control out there with all those limbs flailing around, but most of the time he seems to end up in exactly the right spot."
A big thanks to Clay Fowler of The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin for providing his insight on one of the newest members of Beaver Nation.