STILLWATER — Florida State’s Jameis Winston dragged himself off the deck, eyes looking confused about just who had planted him into the AT&T Stadium turf.
Emmanuel Ogbah, that’s who.
Ogbah — pronounced AWG-buh — introduced himself Saturday night. To the Heisman Trophy holder Winston and the touted FSU offensive line. To many Oklahoma State fans.
And to much of America.
The guy in the curious No. 38. The guy with the intriguing name.
The guy who came to play on the big stage.
“That was great to see that,” said Jimmy Bean, who plays opposite Ogbah at defensive end. “I’m proud.
“I feel like it’s been a long time coming for him. He’s getting his chance, and a lot of people are going to see what he can do.”
By Monday morning, ESPN’s Skip Bayless raved about OSU’s array of athletes making plays, which certainly includes Ogbah.
By Tuesday morning, Ogbah carried the voting as the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Week after totaling six tackles, two sacks and two pass breakups against the Seminoles in his first career start.
There will be many more starts to come for the sophomore defensive end.
Perhaps many more Player of the Week honors, too.
Still, exactly who is Emmanuel Ogbah, who’s quickly becoming a major factor on a talented defensive front that already had known quantities in Bean and James Castleman?
He’s interesting, to say the least. And Cowboys coach Mike Gundy ratcheted up the interest level Monday, suggesting that by the time Ogbah is done at OSU, he could be the best defensive end of Gundy’s tenure.
“I heard about that,” said Ogbah, his voice quickening. “I’m excited about that. I was surprised he said that, but I’m willing to keep working to get to that goal.”
Ogbah was born in Lagos, Nigeria, moving with his family to Houston at the age of 9. At that age, he said, the transition to a new country and culture was more exciting than daunting.
“I was still pretty young, so I was just excited to interact with people and see how the new world was,” Ogbah said. “It was pretty smooth.”
Pretty soon, he found himself attracted to football, partly because it was the thing to do.
“I started playing in seventh grade,” he said. “All my friends were playing. I thought it would be fun, so I just tried it.”
His older brother had played, too, which is how Ogbah came about adopting the No. 38, in a roundabout sort of way.
“The real story behind the No. 38,” Ogbah said, “my brother played football, too; he wore the No. 38 in high school. And my sophomore year, guys would say, ‘Ogbah sucked.’ They were talking about my brother.
“I said, ‘I’m going to change the Ogbah name.’ So I decided to wear that number my whole career.”
Ogbah became a name-changer and a game-changer.
At George Bush High School, he was a finalist for the Greater Houston Area Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was only rated a three-star recruit and well down the list of top-100 defensive ends, drawing interest from Arizona, Texas Tech and a few others.
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