Chris Ogbonnaya: It Took This Longhorn a Long Time to Make It
The Texas Longhorns produce an NFL-savvy running back every couple of years. Their history of producing rushers that can play on Sunday's is magnificent, as the list is chock-full of names like Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, and Selvin Young.
To say that Chris Ogbonnaya could join the ranks of these former Longhorns is no longer a bitter pill to swallow.
Initially, Ogbonnaya was expected to play wide receiver for the Longhorns, but after his redshirt season, he was moved to tailback. At 6'1", 215 lbs., Ogbonnaya displayed the skill set required for a running back to punch the ball in from the two-yard line, yet he never received a chance to shine because he was playing in the shadows of Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles.
Enter the 2008 season. With no clear-cut starting running back for the Longhorns, Chris Ogbonnaya knew this was his year to make a statement. Now a senior, this running back wanted to prove that he was not a fullback, but an every-down runner with low mileage on his odometer.
After all, in the three previous seasons combined, Ogbonnaya carried the ball just 66 times.
While he knew in his heart that he was a good receiver out of the backfield, that thought must have fell back into the mind of Head Coach Mack Brown. Remember, Ogbonnaya initially was expected to be a wideout.
Through the first four games of the season, Chris Ogbonnaya carried the ball just seven times for 23 yards. While he was effective last year as a special-teams player, this could simply not be. Quarterback Colt McCoy was still leading the team in rushing.
A few weeks ago, on Oct. 4, Ogbonnaya was given the nod. At Colorado, on nine carries, he rushed for 71 yards and a score. This former wideout prospect also caught six passes for 116 yards and another touchdown.
Last week, the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns marched into the Red River Shootout (we mean Rivalry) to face-off against the Oklahoma Sooners, who were perched as the No. 1 team in America. Chris Ogbonnaya made his name known to America.
While he reeled in only four receptions for 27 yards, he made the Sooners feel his wrath on the ground. On 15 carries, this senior Longhorn running back tallied 127 yards. That's right, if you do the math, this former wide-receiver averaged 8.47 yards per carry against the "mighty" Oklahoma Sooners front-seven, led by star defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger.
While no one in America has a hotter hand than Chris Ogbonnaya, other running backs have come out of nowhere to put up great numbers in 2008. Penn State's Evan Royster currently has 719 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Connecticut's Donald Brown has 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns. Needless to say, Chris Ogbonnaya is in elite company, despite the fact that he hasn't begun to see the bulk of the load until a couple of weeks ago.
On the year, Ogbonnaya has 220 rushing yards and one touchdown while averaging a very surprising 7.1-yards per carry. He is third on the team in receiving with 19 receptions for 271 yards and three trips to pay dirt.
Last week was nothing but a sign of what is to come for the Texas Longhorns ground attack. Quarterback Colt McCoy is still the 'Horns leading rusher, with 348 yards but that is expected to be toppled within the next couple of weeks.
Ogbonnaya could take over the top rushing spot on the team this week. Texas marches into battle against the Missouri Tigers. While Missouri is stout against the run (ranked 33 in rush defense nationally), we have seen their front-seven, led by defensive tackle Evander Hood, get exposed before.
Last week, Oklahoma State put 187 yards and two touchdowns on the Missouri defense by ways of running the ball.
This is good news for Chris Ogbonnaya. While the NFL Draft is still months away, the senior crop of running backs is nothing to write home about. Ogbonnaya's versatility is making him an intriguing prospect worthy of note. He has also displayed a quick second gear that lets him blow past the second line of defense.
The New York Stock Exchange may be topsy-turvy these days, but we should all invest in Chris Ogbonnaya right now. His price isn't getting any cheaper.
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