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Oregon State's Gwacham goes from WR to DE

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm •  Published: August 19, 2014
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CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Obum Gwacham wants one more chance to make an impact at Oregon State.

Having struggled at wide receiver his entire college career, the 6-foot-5 senior is switching to defensive end for the Beavers.

He jokes that maybe his biggest catch is ahead of him — in the form of an interception.

"We actually have the dime package in now, and I'll probably be back there if any team tries to throw a Hail Mary," he laughed. "I'll try to bat the ball down or get an interception. You know, just using my skills."

Defensive line coach Joe Seumalo planted the idea of coming over to the defense last season, Gwacham said. Following Oregon State's victory over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl, he started seriously considering the possibility for his last year.

Gwacham always had an uneven career at receiver. Over three seasons plagued by injury and inconsistency, he'd had just 11 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, although he also played on special teams.

Gwacham talked it over with his family, but really it was a no-brainer. If he didn't try the defense, would he always wonder, "What if?"

"I had no problem saying yes," he said.

Born in Nigeria, Gwacham and his family came to the United States when he was 7 and settled in Chino Hills, California. Gwacham was captain of both the football and track teams at Ayala High School. His big brother, Nnamdi, played receiver and was on the track team at Utah State.

Gwacham, who is 6-foot-5, redshirted in football his freshman year at Oregon State, but took part in track and field events. He has moonlighted as a high jumper off and on for the Beavers, even though the school doesn't have an official men's track and field team. Back in 2010, Gwacham finished fourth at the conference championships with a leap of 7 feet, 1 1/2 inches.

It was always hoped that because of his height and athleticism (in addition to his jumping ability he's also fast), Gwacham would become an easy red-zone target for quarterback Sean Mannion. But instead, Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks — both now in the NFL — developed into Oregon State's go-to receivers. This season, junior Richard Mullaney is poised for a breakout at the position.

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