Onuoha Searched His Soul, Found Answer in OU

NORMAN, Okla. — Selecting a spot to play at on the next level is always one of the most difficult decisions for talented high school prospects, but for 6-foot-7, 230-pound defensive end Mike Onuoha, it was especially tough.

He felt at home in Columbia with the Missouri Tigers.

He felt at home in Norman with the Oklahoma Sooners, just 30 minutes from his hometown of Edmond.

He saw positives at each place, similar positives.

The ability to make an impact. Coaches who are committed to developing their kids and making them better. Teammates he could relate, too.

So, the three-star and 75th-ranked DE among 2012 prospects dug a little bit deeper.

He searched his soul.

"The first thing I'm gonna say is the people, no one was involved in this; it was all Mike's decision," Onuoha said. "I sat down and thought about this for hours. I talked to my parents for hours. I prayed, thought about it a lot of different ways to do this and I felt like my gut was telling me to go to OU."

Hours and hours of soul searching allowed him to mull things over and ultimately come to that conclusion, on his own, even in midst of the social media world nowadays where players tweet each other and try to convince one another to join up with them at their respective schools.

Onuoha admitted that took a toll on him.

Still, the decision was his.

"It felt great just to get it all over with because a lot of people try to sway you this way, sway you that way," Onuoha said. "But I don't buy into that. I'm not worried about what people think. I'm worried about what I think and how hard I'm gonna have to work to be a great player wherever I go. So, I took everybody out of it and thought about it for Michael and I thought really hard about it.

"And I know that I can work hard and go over there and just be a really good player if I just keep my mind straight and keep all the goals that I've had since I was a little kid."

Onuoha, no doubt, had many of the same goals and aspirations lots of kids do when they're young.

Play college ball.

Be a star.

Ultimately, get coached up right and make it to the next level, the National Football League.

"I just felt like I could meld there and be a very good, productive player and play to my fullest and just become another Ronnell Lewis or another Frank Alexander because I see myself as a hard worker and I can almost become whatever I want to be," Onuoha said. "I know that seems kinda cocky, but yeah, that's how I see that."

It certainly doesn't seem cocky.

In fact, that's the attitude most every high school kid should have when entering college.

The difference in cockiness and shear confidence comes down to exactly the point Onuoha hammered on: how hard the athlete works.

Does he play off his high school stars or does he bust it out there every day to earn his stripes in college.

A player that knows he has the talent and busts his tail every day out there is simply confident and it reflects in how he uses his ability.

That's just what Onuoha plans to do.

"I'm very versatile," Onuoha said. "I could see myself gaining a lot of weight and then being a pretty stacked player. But at the same time, I'm really quick, so I can say something like a Ronnell Lewis [is who I could be like]. I can play Jack, I can drop, I got speed off the edge, so either way I'm not really going to compare myself to anybody because I'm Mike Onuoha and I'm a whole different person."

A person the Sooner coaching staff and Crimson and Cream nation alike were undoubtedly ecstatic about when they found out they locked up his verbal.

Speaking of the coaching staff, Onuoha already has a very strong opinion of his position coach, Bobby Jack Wright, in just a short amount of time.

"Yeah, I've built a pretty strong relationship," Onuoha said. "We're not 100 percent [there]. There's no way you could be 100 percent for it's been five, six weeks, yeah about six weeks since we've been talking. By the time I get up there to OU and become his actual D-end and play for him, then that's when we'll build a stronger or real relationship, but we have a pretty strong relationship."

And he knows what his guy will be expecting out of him.

"Players kind of talked to me and told me how it's going to work, how strict the coaches are and how all that stuff works," Onuoha said. "But Ronnell and them, they're pretty cool about Coach Wright. They said he's a great guy, he's straightforward, that he'll be your best friend but at the same time your worst enemy. That's pretty much how all coaches are.

"They can be your best friends sometimes, and some days it's just like, ‘Man, let off. I just don't want you bugging me.' That's how every football player feels sometimes, but they said he's a great guy and things like that."

Now, he's got a third defensive end commitment for the 2012 class and a very talented, heady one in Onuoha.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.

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