Youngest Player In NCAA At Age 16

Amobi Okoye

Amobi Okoye is a Nigerian-born former American football defensive tackle. He played college football at Louisville and was drafted by the Houston Texans tenth overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, the youngest player in NFL history to be drafted in the first round at 19. He was also a member of the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

BACKGROUND

Okoye was born in Anambra State, Nigeria, a member of the Igbo ethnic group. He moved to Huntsville, Alabama in the United States when he was 12 years old. After only spending two weeks in middle school, he tested into the 9th grade. He first started playing football as a sophomore at Lee High School, knowing virtually nothing about the game before his high school coach suggested he go play Madden NFL football to learn.

By the time he was a senior, he won first-team All-State honors as both a defensive lineman and offensive lineman. Because he shares the same surname as former Kansas City Chiefs fullback Christian Okoye, some sources have claimed that the two are related. Amobi says they are not related, but the two families live on adjoining land in Nigeria.

At age 15 Okoye chose the University of Louisville over Harvard, citing a desire to play for a strong football program.

At Louisville, Okoye majored in biology. He later switched his major to psychology and graduated a semester early, thereby completing his degree in three and a half years. At 16, he became the youngest player in the NCAA. Okoye played in all 13 games as a true freshman at defensive tackle and was credited with 17 tackles and a sack. He recorded then-career-best three tackles against Tulane and recorded his first career sack against UTEP.

As a sophomore, Okoye appeared in 11 of 12 games, recording 26 tackles and a sack. Okoye’s only missed game was against East Carolina, because of a shoulder injury. Okoye also made his first collegiate start against Army, recording a career-high seven tackles.

In his junior season of 2005, he recorded 23 tackles and four tackles for a loss. In the biggest game of the year, against the West Virginia Mountaineers, Okoye recorded four tackles. He missed the Florida Atlantic matchup due to a foot sprain. Against Kentucky, Okoye registered two tackles and a fumble recovery. Okoye also totaled three tackles against South Florida.

As a senior in 2006, Okoye finally started all 13 games. In those 13 games, he registered 55 tackles, eight sacks, and recovered three fumbles. Okoye garnered Associated Press Second-team All-American honors and first-team All-Big East honors. As the NCAA’s youngest senior at 19 years old, Okoye garnered first-round draft status during the season. Okoye was invited to and performed in the Senior Bowl.


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