Nnamdi Obukwelu Interview
Sr. / Harvard / DT
Updated - 2-23-14
By: Alex Khvatov
Alex Khvatov: What are your measurements (height, weight and forty time)?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: My height is 6’3, weight is 303 pounds and I run a 4.92 forty.
Alex Khvatov: What is the meaning of your first name?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: Nnamdi is a Nigerian name that means my father is alive. I was born a year after my grandfather passed away. My mother named me after my grandfather. I was basically the reincarnation of her father.
Alex Khvatov: Where are you currently training for the NFL Draft?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I am training with my college coach at Harvard University.
Alex Khvatov: Tell us about your practice today.
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I did linear work on Monday. We worked on our speed and power today. I also did a lot of resistance work. I worked on the 40-yard dash start. But the focus solely was on linear technique for about an hour and then lifting afterwards.
Alex Khvatov: What do you plan to show scouts during your Pro Day?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I plan to show my versatility. I am 303 pounds, but you would never guess it. I move like a 275 or 280 pound guy. I am not your typical tackle. I can play outside at end or even drop back into coverage. I can play multiple positions. My quickness stands out. I have the speed, strength and versatility.
Alex Khvatov: What schools showed interest in you when you were coming out of high school?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: Coming out of high school, most of the Ivy League schools showed interest. I also had interest from Boston College, UVA and Duke University.
Alex Khvatov: Why did you choose Harvard?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I chose Harvard because my older brother played football here. I knew the team and the coaches. My parents were immigrants and going to Harvard was an American dream for us. I loved the coaches out of all of the schools that I visited. Harvard was a good fit.
Alex Khvatov: Describe your career at Harvard.
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I played a lot at Harvard. I played a lot as a redshirt freshman. I got a taste early on. It helped me develop my skill set. I was a five- year guy. I took a fifth year, and it worked to my benefit. I was able to hone my skills a little longer.
Alex Khvatov: What are your strengths?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I am a great run stopper. I am physical. It is difficult for offensive linemen to move me.
Alex Khvatov: What areas of your game do you need to improve upon?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I think that the biggest thing is my greater understanding of the game of football. I began playing football as a freshman in high school. I have to develop a deeper understanding of offensive and defensive schemes. It will help me develop into a better player.
Alex Khvatov: What is the highlight of your football career up to this point?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I think that it was winning a couple of Ivy League Championships. Also the triple overtime game against Holy Cross was memorable. I got the sack at the end of the game. I was able to cap off the victory for my team. As far as the accolades, I won the “Bulger” Lowe Award as the top defensive player in New England. It is kind of like the equivalent of a Heisman Trophy in New England.
Alex Khvatov: What is your favorite NFL team?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: The Patriots.
Alex Khvatov: Who is your favorite NFL player?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: Growing up, I was a Ray Lewis fan. Now I admire Vince Wilfork for all of the little things that he does so well. He is not a flashy player. Defensive tackles don’t get a lot of praise, but he is the leader of that defense. He does his job well. He is a grind it out type of guy. NFL needs more guys like him.
Alex Khvatov: What separates you from all of the other players at your position?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: My physicality, strength and athleticism. You don’t see many big guys as agile as me. I take on double teams. I make plays in the backfield.
Alex Khvatov: Who was the toughest player that you have faced during your career?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: The toughest guy was OL John Collins. He was my teammate for four years. He was a big, tough guy from Boston. He was an all-league player. He got a couple of tryouts in the NFL last year.
Alex Khvatov: Which underclassman on your team should we keep an eye on next season?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: Hands down, it is DE Zach Hodges. He was named an All-American this past year. He was an Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. He is an animal. He is from Atlanta, GA. I think that he will play LB at the next level. He brings a lot of energy. He is also very agile.
Alex Khvatov: What do you enjoy most about playing football?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I enjoy the camaraderie and competition. Football opened up a lot of doors for me. I owe a lot to the game of football.
Alex Khvatov: What are your hobbies?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I love to work out. I am a big proponent of healthy living. I like to read books and exercise my mind.
Alex Khvatov: What book genre do you enjoy the most?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: American history and African history.
Alex Khvatov: What is your definition of a leader?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: My definition of a leader is someone that does the right thing when no one is looking.
Alex Khvatov: What are you planning to do with your life after football?
Nnamdi Obukwelu: After football, I want to eventually get into economic development. I am a Nigerian. The biggest issue facing the world is the economic inequality. I want to find ways how we can combat this problem. There are many people that live under the poverty line.
Alex Khvatov: Finish the sentence, Nnamdi Obukwelu is….
Nnamdi Obukwelu: I am a leader on and off the field. I am Mr. reliable. On the field, I am a competitor. I never take plays off. I make sure that my team wins. I am calm and collected. I lead by my actions.
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