STILLWATER — Ugo Chinasa is a child of Nigerian immigrants, a first-generation American, a fulfillment of a family’s hope. He is also an unknown. That won’t be the case much longer if the Oklahoma State defensive end continues playing like he did Saturday against Texas A&M. Chinasa had the game of his life in less than a quarter. On a night when the Cowboy defense showed a playmaking ability that has been absent in recent years, no player was more dynamic than Chinasa. He tipped an Aggie pass on the very first play of the game, then a couple minutes later scooped up a fumble and rumbled 35 yards. Only a few minutes later, he intercepted a pass returned it 6 yards for a touchdown. Chinasa set the tone for the Cowboys in their 56-28 victory. “Ugo’s made his share of plays this year, that’s for sure,” Cowboy defensive coordinator Tim Beckman said. And yet, ask the most diehard Cowboy fans about the defensive stars, and they’d list half a dozen players or more before Chinasa. “He’s a quiet player,” Beckman said. “He seems to make plays but is not the guy everybody points at.” Chinasa is quick to deflect praise, mentioning his teammates or talking about his coaches. Truth is, though, he willed himself to this point after suffering a devastating injury. He vowed to return. He refused to give up. He wanted something better. In other words, he took after his parents. Jolly Ibekwoaba and Madumere Chinasa moved from their African homeland of Nigeria to the United States two decades ago. They left behind family, friends and familiarity for opportunity. After graduating college, Jolly landed a job in Dallas where he now sells real estate. Madumere attends to the household. They were strict with their children, unafraid to paddle or scold. “They’re kind of stubborn, so that’s in me,” Chinasa said. So, how are they stubborn? “They don’t change their mind for nothing.” And how is Chinasa stubborn? “I don’t change my mind for nothing either.” He smiled, and he laughed, and yet, he was entirely serious. How else to explain the way he fought his way back onto the field? Toward the end of preseason camp two years ago, the coaches doled out some early-morning punishment for the players. They had to run a couple dozen gasser sprints, and with only a couple remaining, Chinasa planted and heard a pop. “I thought I stepped on something,” he said. It was so loud he never dreamed the pop came from his Achilles. A week later, he had surgery. He spent the next eight weeks in a cast and on crutches. He wasn’t allowed to run for six months. Chinasa had expected to redshirt that season, his first at OSU, but he never thought he’d have to redshirt to rehabilitate. There were tough days. There were trying times. Still, Chinasa vowed to return to football. He wasn’t nearly as fast as he was before the injury. Even now, more than two years later, he is still working to regain the 4.5 speed he had in the 40-yard dash. He remains a couple tenths behind. “Taking a year off for an Achilles tear,” Beckman said, “that’s really tough on a player.” The Cowboys think he can handle that and more. Chinasa plays the Leo position, a hybrid between defensive end and linebacker. With his powerful 6-foot-6 frame, he has to be able to defend the pass and read the run like a linebacker while also being able to rush the passer like a defensive end. Will Smith played the position at Ohio State when Beckman was there coaching cornerbacks. Beckman often tells Chinasa that he reminds him of Smith. Earlier this year, Smith signed a six-year, $70 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. That made him the third highest paid defensive end in the NFL. “I’m just trying to prove that I can be as good as him,” Chinasa said. He has a prime opportunity to do that next week. OSU will face one of the best offenses in the country at Missouri, and it will do so on prime-time television. Intercept a pass, return a fumble or set a tone, and everyone will notice. Ugo Chinasa could be the Cowboy to seize the moment. He knows, after all, about making the most of opportunities.