UCLA's Owa Odighizuwa Works to Emulate Former Teammate Datone Jones

Like Jones, Odighizuwa could become the next UCLA defensive end to be taken in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.

UCLA edge defender Owamagbe Odighizuwa—Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports.

UCLA edge defender Owamagbe Odighizuwa—Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Datone Jones were teammates at UCLA for three seasons from 2010 through 2012, both of them highly-regarded defensive line prospects.

Jones became a first round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2013, and now Odihizuwa is looking to follow in Jones' footsteps with the NFL Draft less than a month away.

Both players learned the ropes from Bruins defensive line coach Angus McClure as multitalented defenders, lining up both inside and outside the tackle box in college.

"I did some of the things that Datone did at UCLA, playing kind of that '4i,' playing in-between the tackles in like rush situations and even playing on the edge as a left defensive end and a right defensive end," said Odighizuwa at the NFL Combine. "Again, I think Datone Jones is another guy who's very versatile, and Angus McClure molded to be that type of player, and I did as much as I could to learn from him and emulate what he did."

Whereas Jones is primarily a defensive lineman, Odighizuwa looks to be more of edge defender at football's next level at 6' 3" and 267 lbs., but both are capable of the same type of production

Odighizuwa had his best season in college as a senior when he set career-highs in nearly every statistical category: 61 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, six sacks, five passes deflected.

After an impactful 2014 campaign, Odighizuwa's stock is pointing upward, perhaps as high as the first round.

Like Jones, Odighizuwa was also a beneficiary of the NFL background UCLA head coach Jim Mora brought to Los Angeles when he was hired.

"When he came in, he brought in an NFL coaching staff," said Odighizuwa. "He hired Angus McClure as a defensive line coach, and he has a lot of offensive experience and offensive background, so I think that whole thing helped me as a football player because he taught me how to study film. He taught me to be a more smarter football player. And then kind of the structure that Mora provided for us allowed us to really develop as football players, so I think that whole situation really helped me the last three years under his program."

Among Odighizuwa's best assets are his straight-ahead speed and explosive ability. For players classified as defensive linemen at the NFL Combine, he turned in the highest vertical jump (39 inches), longest broad jump (127 inches), ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash (4.62 seconds) and tied for the second-fastest short shuttle (4.19 seconds).

For all those impressive performances, however, there are questions about Odighizuwa's fluidity, flexibility, lateral agility and ability to drop into coverage. Even though he might be considered an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive system, he could be the type of player that relies on his ample strength and not bend-around-the-edge pass rush.

Part of the concern about Odighizuwa arises from surgery on both hips that forced him to miss the entire 2013 season. To hear the player himself address the situation, however, Odighizuwa doesn't see much of a problem.

"So far it hasn't affected me. ... I haven't had any restriction," said Odighizuwa. "My range of motion has been good, so I'm excited to showcase that."

Maybe the proof is in the pudding. After all, his impressive 2014 season and Combine performance both came after his surgeries, not before.

Whether it's weak side or strong side, left side or right side, inside or outside, Odighizuwa feels like he'll be able to find success in the NFL.

"Honestly, I feel like just because of what I was able to do at UCLA, what the coaches asked me to do, I feel comfortable playing multiple positions because of the amount of work I put in to understand what I'm doing," said Odighizuwa. "So I think going forward, whatever coaches want me to do, whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to be very comfortable because of my experience with versatility."

 

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Comments (7)

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Imma Fubared's picture

April 03, 2015 at 01:08 pm

Emulate as in taking plays off, coming into camp out of shape and being on the injured lists often? This guy and Perry are the bust breothers ountil they prove otherwixe

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4thand1's picture

April 03, 2015 at 09:22 pm

Holy shit, crocked at 2:08 p.m. ^^^^^^^

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The TKstinator's picture

April 04, 2015 at 10:16 am

What I'd like is a "no holds barred" coach's assessment of Datone's performance after two years.

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Point-Packer's picture

April 07, 2015 at 09:56 am

"No Show Jones" is the last person I'd want to emulate if I were him. Dude is a bust.

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Point-Packer's picture

April 07, 2015 at 09:56 am

"No Show Jones" is the last person I'd want to emulate if I were him. Dude is a bust.

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cpheph1's picture

April 07, 2015 at 03:21 pm

Owa is a very interesting prospect, would be nice at 62 but could easily be gone by then.

Elliot Wolf could always call his dad...for CB insight.

I keep using CM3 like they did after the bye.

CB is #1 on my wish list. There appears to be around six or seven top rated guys...and I want one but won't trade up for one. Ted will double down at CB (50/50).

Is Bradford the 3rd inside backer?...how will Elliott fit into the mix? Will Hubbard make the jump? How many LBs will they keep?...they're good ST guys.

They really don't need much on offense (icing on cake).

Future starter on OL would be nice. A tall WR/TE would also be nice. I'm a fan of the RB from Nebraska.

Nate Palmer (50/50 shot) is another option at ILB...certainly ST worthy. Low cap. Good athlete & a guy worth a close look.

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cpheph1's picture

April 07, 2015 at 03:10 pm

Owa is a very interesting prospect, would be nice at 62 but could easily be gone by then.

Elliot Wolf could always call his dad...for CB insight.

I keep using CM3 like they did after the bye.

CB is #1 on my wish list. There appears to be around six or seven top rated guys...and I want one but won't trade up for one. Ted will double down at CB (50/50).

Is Bradford the 3rd inside backer?...how will Elliott fit into the mix? Will Hubbard make the jump? How many LBs will they keep?...they're good ST guys.

They really don't need much on offense (icing on cake).

Future starter on OL would be nice. A tall WR/TE would also be nice. I'm a fan of the RB from Nebraska.

Nate Palmer (50/50 shot)

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