Collins Ukwu - DE - University of Kentucky – 6’5″ – 258 lbs.
Texas vs. Nation Collegiate All Star Game
In many ways, Collins Ukwu is the perfect modern-day football player. Strong, athletic, wise beyond his years and highly coach-able, Ukwu has built himself into a young man who now stands on the doorstep of the professional ranks. Once he gets his foot in the door, all signs indicate that the young man will be able to accomplish great things.
Ukwu was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised by two loving parents who instilled the values of hard work, faith and discipline at a young age. Ukwu showed signs of supreme athletic skills while still in grade school, and he dominated his youth sports leagues until he arrived at La Vergne High School. Ukwu grew into a man and developed his craft on the football field while also dominating on the basketball court and in track and field events such as shot put and discus.
Ukwu steadily progressed throughout high school as a result of solid coaching and a tireless work ethic, posting very impressive statistics during a senior year that was hampered by and ultimately cut short by an injury. During the time on the sidelines, Ukwu was a supportive and informative teammate, passing on the tutelage he learned from his superiors to those who were asked to step into his monster shoes.
He arrived at the University of Kentucky in 2008 and opted to redshirt. Though he was clearly physically ready for battle, this turned out to be an excellent decision that allowed him to begin to see the game from the perspective of a coach or game planner, a skill he has clearly capitalized on while making his way to the ball from the defensive end position. As a redshirt freshman in 2009 he contributed in every single game, and by the time he was a sophomore he was a full-time starter and a very important cog in Kentucky’s stop unit.
It was during his sophomore season that coaches and fans began to realize Ukwu shows up big in the biggest games. After a solid game against rival Tennessee, he registered a career-high six tackles in games versus the Auburn Tigers and Cam Newton and the Florida Gators quick fire passing attack. The beat rolled on in his junior year as he led all UK defensive lineman in both sacks and tackles for loss. The Kentucky Wildcats had a tough go through their 2012 regular season schedule, but Ukwu was still able to be a dominant force in the majority of games. In a thrilling one-point overtime loss to Western Kentucky in September, Ukwu was in on 10 tackles, including 1.5 sacks.
As can be seen in several published interviews on the Internet, Ukwu did not hang his head and sulk as a result of the Wildcats woes. Instead, he expressed how much the adversity and unexpected defeats had actually galvanized the team, especially the senior class. Coming into last few games of the year, Ukwu made sure to give acknowledgment and respect to his fellow seniors.
Stepping back and taking a look at his high school and college career, Ukwu can be likened to a stock that has steadily been on a healthy and impressive rise for nearly a decade’s time. A chance to play in the NFL is his ultimate goal, and he feels blessed to have the opportunity.