To help decide which college he wanted to attend, Oklahoma State’s most productive defensive player relied on the advice of a Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman.
Emmanuel Ogbah, the Cowboys’ 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end, attended the same high school — George Bush High in Houston, Texas — as Seahawks left tackle and former OSU star Russell Okung.
So shortly after OSU offered Ogbah a scholarship, he got on the phone with Okung, who gave him his best Oklahoma State recruiting pitch.
“He said they’ve got a great strength and conditioning coach who will get you to the next level quicker,” Ogbah said. “They have great fans. Wherever you go, people already know your name.”
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Plenty others outside of Stillwater know his name now. Ogbah led Oklahoma State with 17 tackles for loss and 11 sacks this season, and earned first-team All-Big 12 in the process.
He is a native of Lagos, Nigeria, where he was born in 1993 before his family moved to the United States when he was 9 years old, his parents seeking greater opportunity for their children.
Ogbah said he started playing football as a seventh-grader, turning out for the team simply because his friends all played and it looked like fun. He put together a stellar high school career, recording 57 tackles and six sacks as a senior, though recruiting attention was scarce. Houston offered late in the process, he said, but by then he was already sold on Oklahoma State.
After redshirting in 2012, Ogbah played in every game as a redshirt freshman, totaling 20 tackles and four sacks. This season, he blew up.
CBSSports.com NFL draft analyst Rob Rang says Ogbah has legitimate NFL potential.
“He’s physical, he’s athletic, he’s a guy that very much looks the part of a future early NFL draft pick,” Rang said. “He’s definitely Oklahoma State’s best player in terms of NFL talent at this point.”
Rang said that from a talent evaluation standpoint, junior running back/receiver Tyreek Hill playing against Washington’s young secondary “would have been a fascinating matchup,” but Hill was dismissed from the team by coach Mike Gundy following a domestic violence arrest on Dec. 12.
James Castleman, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle, is Oklahoma State’s only likely NFL draft pick in 2015. He recorded 42 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this season.
Huskies senior defensive tackle Danny Shelton said he’ll likely conduct his pre-draft workouts in San Diego, California. Senior outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha said he’s narrowed his training site options down to two, but hasn’t made a decision. … Mike Gundy said he thinks Oklahoma State and Washington had similar seasons. “I don't want to put myself in a category with certain coaches. But there's a number of similarities between coach, myself, his staff, our staff, in kind of the way we've progressed over the last five, six years of his career and my career. I don't ever look at bowl records, but he's 53, I'm 53. He has won a Fiesta Bowl. I won a Fiesta Bowl. Their offense, defense, special teams, when you look at them and look at us, there's a lot of similarities in. We have to try to find a way to manufacture some points.” … A UW spokesperson said Wednesday that the school had distributed about 2,000 of its allotted 8,000 tickets.