In this post-season awards period, Texas DE Brian Orakpo has been "rak-ing" up almost every honor he was eligible for. While it's no surprise now, it's not something he would ever have dreamed of as a kid.
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 260 | 40-Time: 4.70
Brian Orakpo was born in Houston, TX. He enjoyed playing basketball and football, but it was always just for fun. He wasn't the kid whose parents sent him off to every football camp in TX, hoping for NFL stardom. In his family, academics were always the priority.
As a result, you can accurately call Brian Orakpo a late bloomer. Playing football at Houston's Lamar High School for coach Tom Nolan, it wasn't until after his sophomore year that he began to realize football could be more than just an activity. He appeared in every varsity game as a sophomore, playing well and impressing his coaches.
As a junior, he started every game at defensive end and became a dominant force on the field. He was routinely double-teamed, as one player just could not block him. This is when he became serious about football and saw his untapped potential blossom into success. He was twice honored as a first-team all-district defensive end.
College coaches started taking notice and came knocking at his door. Neither he nor his family knew anything about the recruiting process, and they were a bit overwhelmed. He received offers from several schools, but eventually chose to stay in his home state and play for Mack Brown at the University of Texas.
He was red-shirted his first year in 2004, but in 2005 he played in all 13 games, starting one. He made an immediate impact for the Longhorns and his play earned him Defensive Freshman of the Year and first-team Freshman All-America by the Sporting News. He played in Texas' BCS championship win over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
The following year as a sophomore, Orakpo played in every game and racked up 26 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He was named to the Lowes Most Improved Defensive Players Team
As a junior at Texas, Brian missed 4 games due to a knee injury but still tallied 37 tackles, nine TFL, 5.5 sacks, 12 pressures, two PBD and a forced fumble on the year. He was also named 2007 Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP, recording six tackles and two sacks in the game against 12th-ranked Arizona State.
Then came his senior year, and all he accomplished was being named the Associated Press Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player, the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the top defensive end, and the Lombardi Award, given to the best lineman or linebacker. And by being named to every first-team All-American team, he is considered a "Unanimous Consensus" first-team All-American.
Texas coach Mack Brown, says, "Rak has definitely played at a level worthy of consideration for the Lombardi Award and any other national defensive player of the year honors." "He’s as good as any defensive player I’ve seen this year, and is such an explosive player that he makes offenses adjust their plan to account for him on every play. Even then, he’s so smart and determined that he’s still found ways to dominate games for our defense."
Did all this success come naturally for Orakpo? Not really. When he arrived at Texas he weighed only 210 pounds. He is now a rock-solid 263 pound specimen with eight percent body fat and amazing power and explosiveness. He is a weight room monster (see video above), who benches 515 pounds, and squats 600 pounds. He also has a vertical jump of 42 inches and has run an electronically timed 40 in 4.6 seconds.
Despite all the individual awards and accolades, Brian Orakpo may have more to prove to NFL teams than any other player. The big question is if he is a "tweener". Does he stay in his natural position of DE in a 4-3 or can he make the move to OLB in a 3-4?
You see him do both on film [defensive end and linebacker]," said one AFC scout. "He looks like Tarzan, but with guys built like that, sometimes they don't have the flexibility. He isn't explosive off the snap and you don't know how well he changes directions.
Brian was hoping to impress NFL scouts by participating in both the DE and LB position drills, but he hurt his hamstring during the DE drills, so he had to shut it down. The injury is not considered serious, but this unfortunate occurrence could hurt his position in the draft.
Whether people know him as "Rak", "B Rak," or "Osackpo", Brian Orakpo has become a household name and a player we’ve enjoyed watching on Saturdays. The question is, where will be watching him play on Sundays?