— Chigozie Nnoruka (@_GOZZILA_) February 3, 2016
On National Signing Day, UCLA had a great day, and with a couple exceptions really came through with an outstanding class.
However, there was one commitment that day that surprised everyone, defensive linemen Chigozie Nnoruka.
So who is Chigozie Nnoruka?
Nnoruka came to the United States from his native Nigeria in his high school junior year. Considered a very good soccer player in his home country, Nnoruka had never played American football. He tried out for his high school, Kennedy High in Sacramento, and made the team as a 6’3″ 240-pound two-way senior lineman. By the end of his high school senior year he was named Honorable Mention Offensive Lineman on the All-Metro Conference team. However, that is not to say he did not have a good season on the defensive line. He did, and had several solid games and Player of the Game honors for his d-line play, including 37 solo tackles, and 10 sacks on the season. He was invited to, and played in the local all-star game, the Sacramento Bee 58th Optimist All Star Game. Pretty good for a guy in his very first year of playing football.
You can watch his high school highlights HERE.
Because he had so little high school experience, was still so raw, and no camp exposure, he was virtually unknown upon graduating from high school. It is also not clear that because of his transfer situation if he was even academically eligible out of high school as well. In spite of his amazing athleticism, his situation kept him very much under the radar of college coaches at the time.
Graduating high school in May, 2015, he enrolled at the local community college, American River College in Sacramento. At ARC, he became a teammate of UCLA commit defensive lineman, Nick Terry and was discovered by UCLA coach Angus McClure. For the 2015 season he gained 20 pounds and played mostly defensive end. In his first and only season there he was awarded CCCAA National NorCal Division All Conference honors for his defensive line play and finished with 35 tackles and 3 sacks. In college, he showed strength (bench pressing 350, and squatting 500 pounds), size (6’3″ 278 lbs), and raw athleticism that can’t be taught.
You can watch his college highlights HERE.
At UCLA, Nnoruka will have four years to play three, which is outstanding given his potential and lack of experience. He also continues the long line of Nigerian recruits to UCLA. We expect him to initially start at UCLA as a defensive end, and depending on how he does, and how big he gets in the UCLA strength program, could eventually move to defensive tackle. Regardless, defensive linemen are hard to get, and are critical to the success of the program. We consider this to be a nice last second pick up.