Who knew college football offseason could be this exhilarating? Well for the Hurricanes and their fans, it’s been just that and more. Tate Martell, Tommy Kennedy and several others have already transferred over to Miami, and now Manny Diaz and his staff look to nail-down another transferring player, defensive tackle Chigozie Nnoruka from UCLA.
A native from Nigeria, Nnoruka spent a year playing at a community college in Sacramento, before heading south to Pasadena to suit up for the Bruins. In his first season playing for UCLA in 2017, Nnoruka developed into a constant contributor on the defensive line, starting 10 games throughout the year and playing in all 13. Nnoruka finished with 46 tackles, 8.5 TFLs and two sacks.
⚪ DT Spotlight ⚪— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) July 19, 2018
Chigozie Nnoruka - UCLA
Nnoruka can play DE as well but this season he's beefed up to move inside to NG. Last season he had 49 Tackles, 2 sacks and 8.5 Tackles for Loss. I think he'll do fine at NG, He's a bit undersized but has good strength. pic.twitter.com/9nTA0Jt7F3
In 2018 however, dealing with a new defensive coordinator and learning a different system, Nnoruka couldn’t quite adapt to the Bruins new-look 3-4 defense, and saw little playing time, appearing in just four games all season.
Even after a down-year, Nnoruka gained interested from head coach Manny Diaz and new co-defensive coordinator Blake Baker, receiving an offer from Miami the day after he announced he’d be transferring from UCLA. Diaz, Baker as well as other co-DC Ephraim Banda went out west to visit Nnoruka last week.
The Gators have also offered Nnoruka.
Blessed to receive an offer from the University of Miami pic.twitter.com/z1WunSrml4— Chigozie Nnoruka (@_GOZZILA_) January 5, 2019
Nnoruka is scheduled to visit UM Thursday, and will be in Coral Gables from Thursday to Sunday. Just a reminder, Nnoruka is a grad-transfer, so he’ll be able to play in 2019.
Now that you have the basic information on Nnoruka, let’s take a look at how bringing him aboard the Canes defense will be beneficial.
With Gerald Willis III gone to the NFL, the Hurricanes are looking to load up at the defensive tackle position. At the moment, it looks as if Nesta Jade Silvera and Pat Bethel would be the starters at DT, with Jonathan Ford getting time in the rotation as well.
Silvera’s talent is off the charts, and will be a wrecking-ball for the next several years, though his playing time was limited. Bethel stepped up big in 2018, playing most of the DT snaps next to Willis. Ford brings a gigantic six-foot-five 275 pound frame, and will be expected to take a major leap this upcoming season.
So now where would Nnoruka fit into this unit? The question is out whether or not he’d be a day-one starter, Nnoruka brings his experience to the Canes d-line and also explosiveness for his size. Like Silvera, Nnoruka also stands six-foot-two, but is a little trimmer weighing in a little under 300 pounds.
Though he wasn’t heavy enough to be a nose guard at UCLA in 2018, Nnoruka thrived during the 2017 season under a 4-3 defense. Though Blake Baker runs more of a 4-2-5, Nnoruka would still be lining up in a four-man front.
Chigozie Nnoruka is tied with Kenny Young for most run stuffs -10 - in far fewer snaps. UCLA's best DL performer this season.— Nico Gervasoni (@nicogervasoni) October 23, 2017
When Nnoruka started 10 games in 2017 as opposed to his limited playing time in 2018, the Bruins defense recorded more sacks, gave up fewer rushing yards and held opponents to a lower third-down conversation rate. Now obviously Nnoruka wasn’t the main reason why those stats were drastically different, but you can't ignore the impact he has when in the game.
Because of the fact Miami’s defense was so dominating this past year, the need to add talent to this side of the ball hasn’t been as dire as offense. That being said, Willis and Joe Jackson are now gone, and it’s time to reload. The Hurricanes need to add more depth to their defensive line, and it seems that Nnoruka could be that guy.