Senior Spotlight: Kelechi Ohanaja

Free safety Kelechi Ohanaja is in his third year as a starter for the Commodores, but the Arlington, Tex. native is about much more than football. In this VandyMania exclusive, Ohanaja talks about his future after football, as well as his role as the team's ad hoc fashion consultant.


VandyMania: Kelechi, back at SEC Media Days this year, Moses Osemwegie was the unanimous choice of the sportswriters for best dressed. He gave credit to you as his fashion consultant... also Marcus Buggs.

Kelechi Ohanaja picked out Moses Osemwegie's suit in 2005... well as Jovan Haye's in 2004.
Kelechi Ohanaja: Marcus Buggs has the shoe game. Marcus Buggs is the expert on the shoe game. (Laughs.) Yeah, I heard he was arguably the best dressed. Hey, that makes two years in a row that I have coordinated... we all know about Jovan Haye's suit the year before. (Note: Haye's white suit with orange shirt and tie in 2004 went down in SEC Media Days lore.)

VM: It was hard to say which one of those two would take the prize.

Kelechi: Yeah. With Jovan we had to come up with a little more flashy approach, because Jovan was coming off an All-SEC performance. We had to make him look good. With Moses we told him to go with something a little more conservative. So that's why I had the grey suit with the black underneath. It was the expected with a little unexpected.

VM: Now, what would you do if you had been that situation?

Kelechi: You can't go wrong with black. I might just think of accessorizing just a bit, you know? Cuff links, the collar, little things like that that help the suit out. Little subtle things.

VM: This is your fifth year now in this program. What has your approach been, knowing that this is your last go-round?

Kelechi: The main thing is just to have fun. I keep on hearing from a lot of guys that came through, they're like, once you come through, you're gonna miss it. Sometimes you'll be in practice and you'll be like, man, this is my last year, I can't wait until it's over. You know, just because you're older and you've been around, and all those things. But the thing is, just have fun. Certain things we take for granted, like going to practice, going to meetings, doing all those things back-to-back can get kind of monotonous. But just have fun.

VM: People probably thought that with the guys you lost from the secondary last year, and moving Andrew Pace to a new position, that there's no way the secondary could be better. You were the only one that really had any experience at the first of the year. But you guys have played pretty well.

Kelechi: We thought it could be just as good, if not better. This is a new year. If the game was played on paper, there'd be no season! I just think we have a great group of defensive backs. I just feel like my job this year is to be a leader. Game experience really is big. I had started for two years, so I had seen a lot of things. I've played with a lot of people. I feel like it's my duty to impart the knowledge that I've gotten over the last two years.

VM: Reshard Langford, who plays beside you at safety, has really been a pleasant surprise for this team.

VM: He's looking real good, real good. Sometimes I just forget that he's a freshman out there. He has an ability that's way beyond his age. Before he leaves here he is going to be really, really good. The main thing I try to do with him right now, or with anybody I'm playing beside, is just to make sure that everything I see, they see. I don't hold back any knowledge from him. Football at this level is almost purely about communication.

Kelechi: I think you were the one who gave Andrew Pace the nickname "Mr. Perfect." Some people didn't think he would be able to make the transition to corner as well as he has, but he has done pretty well, hasn't he?

VM: Honestly, you would never know that this is his first year playing corner. Pace is a technician, hence the name, "Mr. Perfect." Anywhere you put him, he's going to do his best to do exactly what the coaches tell him to do and do it perfectly. Pace is fast... really fast. He's arguably one of the fastest people on the team.

Kelechi: What are your plans after graduation? Obviously you're going to be hoping for that NFL call, but what if that doesn't work out?

VM: Actually I've already graduated last May. Right now I'm getting my Master's at Peabody in Public Policy. I've been in the Organizational Leadership program, but going to switch over to Public Policy. Ryan King also graduated last May, and he and I are in the same program. If pro football doesn't work out, I want to go to law school. I'll finish up my Master's degree first though.

Top photo by Mark Humphrey, courtesy of Associated Press. Lower photos by Don Yates and Brent Wiseman, copyright 2005 by


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