Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Ovie Oghoufo Sticking To His Process

December 9, 2018

Millions of college football fans turn on the TV and see their favorite players make big plays each week, but the transition to get to that point is tougher than some realize. 

Not every player has immediate success the day they walk on the field, and it requires work, but also a mental drive to get over the hump of not playing on Saturday. 

Notre Dame linebacker Ovie Oghoufo enrolled last January and had hoped to see the field in 2018, but it didn’t happen. The 6-foot-3, 226-pounder admitted he was frustrated when the coaches told him he wasn’t going to play this fall, but Oghoufo learned to embrace the situation he was in. 

“Hearing I was going to redshirt, it was pretty hard,” Oghoufo stated. “Once I realized everyone is part of the team and scout team is part of this team, I took pride in it and ran with it. Every week I tried to put in my all no matter what I had to play. I played defensive end, linebacker and all types of positions. At the end of the day, I’m giving it my all, and I guess it’s paying off. We’re undefeated.”

That attitude led Oghoufo to win the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year, but more importantly, the Michigan native saw his game improve over the last 11 months.

“I felt technically I improved,” explained Oghoufo. “I came in with a lot of raw talent, speed, agility and a lot of good things. I wasn’t really technically sound. I felt this year has helped me become technically sound because I have been able to work on my technique. I’ve seen it as well as Coach (Clark) Lea and the other coaches.” 

Another part of the Oghoufo’s growth has been physically. The former four-star prospect arrived last January weighing in at 207 pounds. 

“Seeing that on the scale was like ‘Am I ever going to play,” recalled Oghoufo. “I got up to as much as 226, so it was a lot of weight. I think Coach Balis a lot. I feel even faster after putting on all the weight.

“My target weight is around the 230ish range so I can be versatile and play as many positions as I can.” 

The weight gain brings up the question of a possible move to the drop position (rush end),  which is similar to the role Oghoufo played in high school where he terrorized quarterbacks off the edge.

“I’m open to anything,”  Oghoufo stated. “I’m still learning linebacker a lot. Anything can happen. It’s up to Coach. There is a lot I have to learn, but if it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter to me.” 

As far as early enrollment, head coach Brian Kelly stated he didn’t see a downside of kids arriving in January and Oghoufo echoed the statement after going through it. 

“I’m blessed to do it,” said Oghoufo. “I recommend it to everybody. It was hard. The semester was hard. I learned so many things academically, and I met so many people in terms of my career endeavors as well as football. I learned how to take on water mentally and keep going.” 

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