2018 NFL Draft Interview: Kene Okonkwo, New Mexico Lobos

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Justin David Kish: Thank you so much for your time Kene. Can you please tell us about yourself?

Kene Okonkwo: My Name is Kene Okonkwo and I am from Dallas, Texas. I have three siblings two brothers and one sister and I was raised by Rita and Elias Okonkwo. 

Justin David Kish: You played college football at New Mexico. Tell us about your time spent with the Lobos?

Kene Okonkwo: It was an amazing experience playing for the Lobos it had its shares of ups and downs but I learned so much and developed into a great player while I was at New Mexico. Through the wins the losses and the Bowl game victory I wouldn’t trade that experience with anything else

Justin David Kish: During your tenure with the Lobos you were coached under head coach Bob Davie. How has Coach Davie and the rest of the New Mexico coaching staff improve you as a player?

Kene Okonkwo: Coach Davie is definitely on my list of favorite coaches the reason I say that is because I only had one year of experience playing football because I started playing my senior year of high school and he gave me an opportunity. He believed in what I could become so did my position coach Stan Eggen he pushed me every day and never allowed me to settle for less. I came into New Mexico a young inexperienced freshman who didn’t know much about the game of football and Coach Eggen really took the time to help me understand how to play the game the right way and he put me in positions where I could succeed I really appreciate what those two coaches and the entire New Mexico football staff did for me I am forever grateful. 

Justin David Kish: Playing in The Mountain West, you played against tough opponents such as Boise State, Wyoming and Utah State. What is one game in your career that really brought out the best in you and why?

Kene Okonkwo: Air Force the reason I say that is because Air Force similar to us ran the triple option so it really was a test for me to see how well all those years of going and practicing against the triple option in practice would pay off and if I was mentally prepared for it. I had to make sure I read my keys properly and that I was in the right place when I needed to be so overall it was a good mental game for me and a fun one as well.

Justin David Kish: Being a defensive lineman you have faced some of the best offensive linemen the FBS has to offer. What is one offensive lineman you have faced that really challenged you and how did you fair?

Kene Okonkwo: I faced an O-Lineman from Tulsa and people were really hyping him saying he was a great player which he was and I remember just going into that game with a big chip on my shoulder. We had a good battle and after the game we commended each other because we knew we just went to war and that we both competed to the best of our abilities.

Justin David Kish: What does it mean to be a New Mexico Lobo?

Kene Okonkwo: We’re privileged to have such an incredible fan base, to be honest, that’s fueled with passion. It’s the culture that comes with being a Lobo Football player you appreciate that you represent all of New Mexico when you put on that helmet, you represent something bigger than yourself. Were the only show in town there is no professional team in Albuquerque so we really represent the entire city and state when we step out and play.

Justin David Kish: Let’s transition to the upcoming NFL Draft. How are you currently preparing for your Pro Day, the draft and other pro opportunities?

Kene Okonkwo: I’m currently in Albuquerque training for Pro Day with my trainer just working on getting faster, stronger and working on technique. It’s been a fun experience.

Justin David Kish: What makes you stand out from the other draft-eligible defensive lineman?

Kene Okonkwo: I’ve only played the game of football for 5 years in those year I have progressively gotten better when you look at my college career you can see that progression as well. I believe I have a lot upside in my game and possess the quickness, aggressiveness, and hand speed that it takes to play the defensive end position.

Justin David Kish: When you are watching film what are somethings you take note of and watch for?

Kene Okonkwo: I look at the stance, footwork, and the hands of the offensive lineman.

Justin David Kish: Name a point during your college career where you overcame adversity and what did you learn from the experience?

Kene Okonkwo: I fractured my ankle my sophomore year in college and I was heartbroken I ended up sitting out the entire season. I worked so hard during that offseason to get it back to how it was and now its stronger than it’s ever been. I believe that injury has made me the player I am today because It allowed me to appreciate the game a lot more and created a hunger inside of me.

Justin David Kish: What is one area of your game do you consider your biggest strength?

Kene Okonkwo: My biggest strength would have to be my ability to get to the ball and shed blockers. Every play I want to make sure that I am around the ball.

Justin David Kish: Outside of football, what does a typical day off look like?

Kene Okonkwo: I’m a really relaxed person so on a typical day I’m training early in the morning and for the rest of the day I’m just hanging out with friends playing board games or video games.

Justin David Kish: In the next couple of questions I am going to put you on the spot. My first question, if you could compare yourself to any current NFL defensive lineman who would it be and why?

Kene Okonkwo: I really didn’t watch a lot of NFL football growing up I was more of a basketball guy so I never really had time to compare my game to anyone who played in the NFL I think my game comes from the coaches I’ve had during my 5 years playing football whether it was Coach Eggen at New Mexico or Coach wade in high school the things they taught me are what you see in the way I play. I am a product of great coaching.

Justin David Kish: My final question, If I was an NFL General Manager why should I draft Kene Okonkwo?

Kene Okonkwo: I am a player who has only 5 years of football under his belt and I believe I have the upside to continue to play this game. The best is yet to come in my career I don’t think that I have hit my peak at all yet in my career and I am ready to continue to grow and learn.

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