Good Morning
Good Morning

Giants pick UCLA DE Owa Odighizuwa in third round

UCLA defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa gestures to teammates

UCLA defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa gestures to teammates while facing Colorado in the first quarter of an NCAA football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. Credit: AP / David Zalubowski

Owa Odighizuwa went right down the list.

Michael Strahan. Osi Umenyiora. Justin Tuck. Jason Pierre-Paul. He has admired and studied them all, calling up YouTube videos and watching as many games as he could.

"When I tell you the Giants defensive line inspired me," he said, "it's no joke."

And now he gets to follow in their footsteps.

The Giants selected the hard-to-pronounce-but-easy-to-like defensive end in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday night. That they did it with the 74th overall selection -- the same pick they used to take Tuck in 2005 -- seemed somehow appropriate.

"Justin Tuck was a third- round pick and he ended up being a pretty good player for us," general manager Jerry Reese said. "We're hoping that he can be in that same mold to come in and like Justin started out playing a lot on special teams and developed into a really good player. We think this guy can do the same thing."

He certainly has the stature to do it. The Giants loved his size -- 6-3, 271 pounds -- and the effort he gave on the field. They feel that like Tuck, he can rush the passer from the outside or the inside. He doesn't have the speed to be a true edge rusher, but he has enough quickness to shimmy into the backfield from the middle. And he's strong enough to hold the edge.

"He gives us that force that could be a left end," coach Tom Coughlin said. "I'm not going to nail that down just yet. He certainly can play on that side. We are excited to have him."

Odighizuwa -- pronounced Oh-DIGGY-zoo-wah -- has had his share of obstacles both on and off the field. He was sent to Nigeria as a youngster to live with his grandparents when his parents were struggling in the United States, but he returned. His father, Peter, is serving three life sentences in Ohio for a triple-murder shooting at Appalachian School of Law in 2002. That prompted his family to move to Oregon when he was 9.

Eventually he developed into a premier football player, but at UCLA he needed two hip surgeries and it cost him his 2013 season.

He played every game in 2014, though, and had six sacks and 111/2 tackles for a loss for the Bruins. And now he's a Giant. Coughlin said Odighizuwa was in tears when the Giants called him to alert him to his selection.

Where he winds up in the lexicon of Giants defensive ends that he knows so well remains to be seen. He'll get to work with Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants defensive coordinator who coached all of those great pass rushers. Like him, most of them were not first-round picks.

In fact, as mentioned, one was selected in the exact same place.

Said Coughlin of the Tuck comparison: "I certainly hope the results are that."

New York Sports