TSJSports.com | Breaking Sports News and Analysis | @TSJ_Sports

TSJ101 Exclusive Interview with Hybrid Safety Okezie Alozie

NFL

TJS101 had the unique opportunity to interview University of Buffalo Hybrid Safety-Linebacker Okezie Alozie as he prepares for the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. His family uprooted from Shreveport, Louisiana to Bethlehem, PA when he was 10 years old. He was a stellar athlete at Freedom High School and he garnered a lot of interest, ultimately choosing the University of Buffalo as his home. He went in as a Safety and he started 9 games in his Junior year.

There was a coaching change heading into his Senior year, as Coach Lance Leopold came in. Leopold moved Okezie to Linebacker and the rest is history. Alozie finished his Senior campaign with 85 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and a team-high 5 sacks as the team’s Swiss Army Knife. They didn’t employ a nickel on defensive passing sets, as Okezie‘s versatility came into play and he was able to reign free in space.

Okezie shined at University of Buffalo’s Pro Day. He clocked in a 4.6 40 yard dash time. He also had a 10’10” broad jump, which would have been the 2nd best at this year’s NFL Combine among Linebackers and his 39.5” vertical would have tied for 10th best among all positions.

TSJ101: Who were some of your role models growing up?

Okezie: My parents and my older siblings (he is one of 5 children). My father Bertram overcame a lot early in his life and has guided me in so many ways. They’ve all set good examples of becoming a well-rounded person and living a plentiful life.

TSJ101: How was your transition from Shreveport, Louisiana to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania?

Okezie: It was tough at first. The culture is different and took some getting used to but I now love both equally. Bethlehem is a blue collar football town and is always rapidly evolving, whereas in Louisiana, nothing has really changed all that much and everything has remained the same. I love the southern food, though. We still celebrate Mardi Gras and I miss the State Fair in Louisiana.

TSJ101: Your family has to be extremely proud of you. Tell me how they play a part in your journey?

Okezie: They are very proud and have given me the foundation to succeed. I have used the support they’ve given me and they always keep me in their prayers. Faith is everything. They are there for me through the ups and downs and they motivate me to really be the best that I can be.

TSJ101: When did you first play organized football?

Okezie: I was 11 years old. We grew up playing backyard football and we then thought it would be a good idea to play youth football. I’ve played every position you can think of and I pride myself on doing many different things very well. The more you can do, the better!

TSJ101: Leading up to my next question. How was the transition from Safety to Linebacker for you while at University of Buffalo?

Okezie: It was a pretty smooth transition and learning curve. I had to adjust and learn what gaps to attack on certain plays and learn all about the different defensive fronts. I had to see where I fit in based on the defensive line and make it flow and mesh with the other defenders. In Nickel sets, they let me play in space and a lot of Man-to-Man coverage was used with me on passing downs. My ability to play in space makes me unique and my coaches did a great job of putting me in the right position at crucial times.

TSJ101: Coming out of High School, what schools were on your radar?

Okezie: Army, Navy, Temple, Akron, UMASS, Maine, Villanova, Towson, and New Hampshire were all really interested in me. Some bigger schools came calling as we got closer to National Signing Day but I truly wanted to go somewhere where they really wanted me from the start. My parents helped to oversee and give me guidance during the process of selecting a college with a good fit.

TSJ101: What NFL players do you mold your game after?

Okezie: Tyrann Mathieu aka Honey Badger. He can do it all; he’s great at blitzing, playing man-to-man, and playing in zone. He’s not a one-type guy; his versatility is off the charts. He’s super humble and plays with heart, aggression, and has a high motor.

TSJ101: You had an outstanding showing at the University of Buffalo Pro Day. Did you have a training plan going into it?

Okezie: I train with John Opfer from Pro Formance and his training has been instrumental to my success. He and his staff really focuses on core training to help me become a better athlete. He trains my old teammates Raiders’ Khalil Mack and Chargers’ Brandon Oliver.

TSJ101: What NFL teams have contacted you and expressed interest in you heading into the draft?

Okezie: The Rams, Falcons, Eagles, Giants, Steelers, Colts and Raiders have all reached out to me.

TSJ101: What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming draft?

Okezie: I am focusing on plyometrics while working on my agility and doing field work, like 1-on-1’s and things of that nature.

TSJ101: What have you been doing outside of football as we near NFL Draft week?

Okezie: I’ve been getting mentally ready and prepared. I’ve been leaning on the word and the Bible and speaking with my family members. I’ve also had the opportunity to communicate with past teammates who have gone through the process of transitioning from the college life to NFL life.

TSJ101: Is there a nickname that you go by?

Okezie: My close friends call me “K.O”.

TSJ101: Are there any past players that you like or follow?

Okezie: I love Brian Dawkins, Sean Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and LaDainian Tomlinson.

TSJ101: What will an NFL team get by selecting you?

Okezie: They are getting a leader by nature. They are getting a guy who does it the right way. Also, they’ll be getting a really good athlete that will be able to contribute in any capacity. They’ll be getting a guy that genuinely cares and will put his all into everything required of him.