Don't tell Patrick Nkwopara he's too short to play for Texas.
“Stand in front of me and let me hit you. You'll see what's up,” Nkwopara told Inside Texas, confidently, when asked what he would say to someone who accused him of being too short for D-I football.
We decided to take him at his word. The SGP LB stands at 5-foot-10, but he says he's got plenty to make up for any height disadvantage he may encounter at the collegiate level.
“There's my ability to think, my awareness and my speed,” said Nkwopara.
Don't tell Rob Davies that Nkwopara's too short to play for Texas.
It may be Davies' first year as head coach at South Grand Prairie, but he's been Nkwopara's linebacker coach all the way through high school and is familiar with his talented defender's abilities.
“Speed, that's the key ingredient,” said Davies. “The game has moved more and more and more to where it's all about speed. You're playing offenses who can spread people out, you've got to have people that can cover ground in a hurry.”
Davies said Nkwopara has run a 4.5 in the 40 before, but his speed isn't all he has to offer. He runs that quick 40 time at a stout 205 pounds.
“Probably the best thing is his speed. The next is his strength,” said Davies. “Very, very, very strong, very strong in the weight room.”
And especially don't tell Will Muschamp that Nkwopara's too short to play for Texas.
When Nkwopara came down for his junior day visit in February, he had strong interest from Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado State, but he'd garnered no offers. Texas, and specifically Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, didn't care.
“When (the Longhorns) got their new defensive coordinator, Coach Muschamp, he saw Patrick and coach just fell in love with him,” said Davies. “The quote was, 'I don't know what position we're going to play him at, but he's something.' He saw the speed, he saw the explosiveness, he saw those things and I think Texas is always conscientious about recruiting good kids and he meets that criteria too.”
Nkwopara holds a 3.75 GPA and is taking all advanced placement classes at South Grand Prairie. Davies said he's proud of the way Nkwopara represents himself and his school.
“He's one of the most respected kids that we have, probably even in our school,” said Davies. “Everyone knows him. He comes from a really good family, has very strong morals. He's a very good student, a very good leader. He's never been in trouble at school with any of his teachers or coaches. He's always respectful and does what we ask and does it to the best of his ability. He's probably one of top character guys I've coached, honestly.”
Nkwopara cordially shrugged off the compliments, saying he's just doing his job.
“I'm just another football player,” said Nkwopara. “I just go out there, work hard, play hard and do everything I can to win.”
He's another football player who, like 16 other 2009 commits, will be playing his college football in Austin. Nkwopara admitted when he was heading to Texas for his junior day visit, he wasn't expecting to receive an offer.
“I was surprised. I was like, 'Woooow.' I never thought it would get to that point,” said Nkwopara.
His surprise was quickly replaced by elation because the school he'd always wanted to go to had offered him a full scholarship to play football.
“I accepted right off the bat,” said Nkwopara. “I enjoy the school, I enjoy the people, the coaches, the players, everybody. I want to be a part of it.”
Davies had no problem with his linebacker's early commitment and, in fact, encouraged it. Before Nkwopara left for Austin, Davies told him: “There's a potential they're going to offer you when you go down there...If you feel comfortable there and you want to go ahead and end this now, go ahead and give your verbal commitment.”
Davis told IT that it's not advice he commonly gives out, but Nkwopara had been a UT fan for such a long time and he was ready to commit.
“I don't tell all of our players that,” said Davies, “but that's Patrick. That's what he wanted to do and I just said, 'Hey, if they extend an offer and that's where you're comfortable, then you need to go there.'”
So, Patrick Nkwopara is headed to Texas, no matter what any doubter may have to say about his height.
“The University of Texas seemed to look past that, so that sums it up,” said Davies.
Members Only Information on Patrick Nkwopara:
Patrick Nkwopara has played nothing but linebacker for South Grand Prairie...but Texas may have other plans for him. According to Davies, Muschamp said: “I don't know what position we're going to play (Nkwopara) at, but he's something.” What is that something? - Members Only: What position will Nkwopara play at Texas?