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Northwestern DE Ifeadi Odenigbo benefitted from redshirting

Updated: August 15, 2013 10:38PM



KENOSHA, Wis. — Most freshmen might be disappointed when they redshirt.

But even after cracking the two-deep as a true freshman last season, Northwestern defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo wasn’t overly disappointed when a shoulder injury forced him to redshirt.

Odenigbo was heavily recruited by a number of Big Ten teams; some projected him as a 3-4 linebacker, others as a defensive end. The coaching staff at NU initially made Odenigbo a linebacker, but after two days of practice, it realized his size dictated a move to defensive end. That compounded issues he already was having grasping the playbook.

So he says last season and this offseason provided him with the perfect opportunity to make a push to start this season.

“[Improving my game] was really more offseason stuff,” Odenigbo said. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger in the weight room. I’ve improved a lot mentally. I feel like last year I had a hard time getting the concepts of the playbook, but me being here for a year now has helped a lot.”

The Wildcats’ defensive line is deep, so starting might prove difficult for Odenigbo.

But NU coach Pat Fitzgerald likes to rotate defensive players, particularly defensive linemen, so that favors Odenigbo.

“He fits in there well,” Fitzgerald said. “That whole group is playing well. They’re athletic. They’re tough. They’ve got the ability to stop the run. We’ve got an ability to have a wave to rush the passer, and there’s great competition there.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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