Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

A Beautiful (Black) Mind: Amobi Okoye

April 25th, 2007 by Ajuan Mance

Amobi Okoye 

AP Photo

“My dad was big on (my) going to Harvard, and I was big on playing football… Not to downgrade Harvard, but Louisville had the best of both worlds for me as far as athletics and academic-wise.” 

— Amobi Okoye

If you haven’t yet heard of Amobi Okoye, then you don’t read the sports pages or watch ESPN. But even if you’re not a big football fan, and even if you’re not waiting with bated breath for the NFL draft, this is a young man worth knowing about.

Scores of newspapers have printed articles on Okoye, who will likely become the NFL’s youngest player since 1970, and I’ve included at the bottom of this post to profiles on the college football standout; but here’s a short summary of the amazing achievements that have made this true scholar-athlete such a hot topic during this NFL draft season:

Amobi Okoye is that rarest of marvels, the young man who is both an intellectual and an athletic prodigy. Born in Nigeria, Amobi was walking at 7 months old and speaking at 11 months. In his home country he skipped from 5th to 7th grade, and he placed into the 9th grade shortly after arriving in the United States at the age of 12. By 13 Amobi was not only a sophomore in high school, but a varsity football player as well, even starting in one game. When it came time to go to college, Okoye chose the University of Louisville over Harvard, which also admitted him, privileging the strong football program of the former over the academic reputation of the latter. This fall, as a 19 year-old senior at the University of Louisville, Okoye had success on the field (8 sacks, 55 tackles, 15 tackles for loos), and in the classroom (in December he graduated after only 3 1/2 years, with a major in psychology).

This spring Okoye is slated to make his mark on professional football. When he enters the NFL draft he will likely become:

  • The young player ever to enter the NFL draft since the 1970 merger 
  • The youngest player ever selected in the first round of the NFL draft
  • The youngest player ever to take the field on the NFL’s opening weekend

So, you may wonder (as I did), what will become of his academic talents and his interest in psychology? Okoye plans to pursue graduate studies in psychology at Harvard, possibly during his off seasons.  That’s a tall order for this young prospect, but doing the unexpected seems to be his specialty. Whether on the field or on the campus of whatever institution is fortunate enough to have him as a graduate student, I think we can expect big things.

Want to read more? Here are some links?:

“This Youngster Makes the Grade” (Boston Globe)

“Okoye, 19, Always Has Been a Prodigy” (Detroit News)

“Okoye Young, but Brings Great Ability, Potential” (Chicago Daily Herald)

“He’s ‘Phe’ — As in Phenom” (San Diego Tribune)

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in Amobi Okoye, Black Students, Current Events, Harvard University, Higher Education, My Favorite Blogs, NFL Draft, University of Louisville

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