Meet Amen Ogbongbemiga, Nigerian-Born Athlete Finding Football Success in Canada

Damon Sayles@@DamonSaylesNational Recruiting AnalystJune 15, 2015

Amen Ogbongbemiga (right) poses with his cousin, Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbongbemiga has built a reputation as a 2016 linebacker in Canada. He picked up his first Power Five offer over the weekend from Oklahoma State.
Amen Ogbongbemiga (right) poses with his cousin, Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbongbemiga has built a reputation as a 2016 linebacker in Canada. He picked up his first Power Five offer over the weekend from Oklahoma State.Courtesy: Amen Ogbongbemiga

Adapting to change isn't anything new to Amen Ogbongbemiga.

Born in Nigeria, Ogbongbemiga moved to the United States in 2003. He lived in the Houston area from 2003-11 before his family packed up and moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

"At first, I was like, 'Canada? Out of all places?'" said Ogbongbemiga, a rising 2016 linebacker.

Since 2011, Calgary has been his home, and since 2011, he's built a reputation north of the states as one of the premier football players of Canada's provinces and territories. Ogbongbemiga led Calgary's Notre Dame High School to a third straight Provincial Tier 1 Championship last fall, and he was named a Calgary Division 1 All-Star.

His reputation has leaked to the states, as he picked up his second offer—and first Power Five offer—from Oklahoma State during a camp visit to Stillwater, Oklahoma. Ogbongbemiga, who measured in at 6'1" and 208 pounds over the weekend, was recruited by the Cowboys to be a "Will", or weak-side linebacker. To add, he and Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah are second cousins.

Ogbongbemiga's mother is a nurse, and his father is an accountant. When he was in middle school, his parents decided to open a home health business in Calgary—a place he considers home.

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Ogbongbemiga said the toughest part of moving to Canada going into eighth grade was adjusting to the climate. He said the chill of the Canadian air caught him off guard, considering he was expecting warm temperatures during the summer. He was someone who, living in Houston, didn't experience cool temperatures for the majority of the year.

"My first reaction: It was cold," he said. "People are people; the main difference was the weather. I stepped off the plane and was wearing a short-sleeved shirt. I mean, it was summer time. But it hit me."

As for adjusting to the new football lifestyle, that wasn't as tough as expected. Canadian rules feature a three-down series in which second down often times is a passing down. From sideline to sideline, Canadian defenders have to guard 65 yards of turf, versus the 53.33 yards on an American turf.

If anything, that gives Ogbongbemiga an advantage, because he's shown he can be reliable from a lateral perspective. His junior year at Notre Dame included 104 tackles (13 of those for loss), four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three sacks.

"To me, football is football," Ogbongbemiga said. "Where I'm from, we have some of the better football, but you don't hear about it too much [in the states]. There are some good players around here. There may not be a bunch of 5-star recruits, but there are good players here."

Along with the Oklahoma State offer, Ogbongbemiga earned his first offer from Nevada while playing community-league ball in the Calgary Area Midget Football Association (CAMFA), a spring league for players his age. He was selected as a CAMFA All-Star.

Additionally, Ogbongbemiga has received budding interest from Rice, Ohio University and Western Kentucky. Keep in mind that his process is still considered fledgling, as he got a late start with contacting coaches.

Ogbongbemiga's resume slowly began to leak with the help of his highlight tape and his overall testing. He bench presses 315 pounds and has benched 225 pounds 12 times. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds at Oklahoma State. At the Dallas Nike SPARQ Combine in March, Ogbongbemiga threw the power ball 36 feet and vertical jumped 34.3 inches.

"I feel like I'm just getting started," he said.

Credit: 247Sports

Ogbongbemiga was supposed to be in Eugene, Oregon, over the weekend for the last circuit of The Opening regional round. Instead, he ventured to Stillwater for the Oklahoma State camp, where he had a chance to chat with both head coach Mike Gundy and his recruiting contact, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer.

"It [the trip] was pretty good; I like campus there," Ogbongbemiga said. "It has really good facilities. I liked it; I liked it a lot.

"When I talked to Coach Gundy, the first thing he said to me was that he wanted to let me know he had an offer for me. He let me know he really wants me at Oklahoma State. Coach Spence was the one who originally started recruiting me, and he made me feel at home there."

Ogbongbemiga was expected to leave Stillwater to return to Canada on Monday. Having a Big 12 offer could be the first step in watching his recruiting process skyrocket.

Wherever he ends up—whether it's at Oklahoma State or someplace else—Ogbongbemiga said he's looking for a place that has treated him just as well as the greater Houston and Calgary areas have.

In turn, he said he'll give the best linebacker, student-athlete and overall person that he can.

"I'm a hard worker, and I'm going to try and do whatever I can to help a team win," he said. "I like to encourage the team when it's down. I'll keep playing, win or lose.

"I just want to be at a place that makes me feel like I'm home, that's it. Every athlete wants to win, but some are not comfortable with where they live. That's not helping yourself. I want to be at a place where I feel I can stay four years."

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles