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.