Nwanna ready to give Arkansas' OL early lift

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Monday, January 7, 2019
Chibueze Nwanna
Chibueze Nwanna

— Arkansas knew it needed to land at least two older offensive linemen in the 2019 class and did that with pair of standouts set to arrive in Fayetteville on Tuesday.

Scranton (Pa.) Lackawanna Community College’s Chibueze Nwanna (6-7, 315) and Iowa Central’s Myron Cunningham (6-5, 300), two of the Razorbacks’ nine early enrollees, are expected to make immediate impacts on the offensive line in 2019.

“I am very excited to get there, get to work learning stuff, get in the weight room to put on some more bulk,” Nwanna said. “I am coming to put in two great years of work and I am ready to get going.”

Nwanna, whose name is pronounced (cha-boy-zee) (nah-wanna) and is originally from Hyattsville, Md., chose Arkansas over Louisville, Cincinnati, Maryland and others, helped lead Lackawanna to an 11-0 record and No. 6 ranking this season.

The Falcons averaged 38.5 points per game and rolled up 4,415 yards of total offense.

“It took me a while to develop once I got to Lackawanna because I was so tall and I had to get used to my body and how to use it on the football field,” Nwanna said. “I went into junior college my freshmen year and was OK, but I still had so much to learn because I was raw.

“In my second spring there is when I think I really made my improvement and a lot of coaches started noticing me and showing interest. That’s when I started getting recruited heavily.”

Nwanna, who was told he will get the shot to take over at left tackle, considered a lot of schools, but really locked on with Arkansas and offensive line coach Dustin Fry early in the process.

“He stayed in constant contact with me, told me how much they wanted me and needed me,” Nwanna said. “He told me he wanted me to come in ready to compete right away and use my reach to my advantage.

“I think in the past few years my run blocking has improved a lot and I think I am a very good pass blocker.”

The fact that Fry played at Clemson and in the NFL for St. Louis, Cleveland, Denver and Carolina was noteworthy to Nwanna.

“I feel so comfortable with him as a coach because he has been through the experience of playing at a big-time school like Clemson and been in the NFL,” Nwanna said. “It helps him to be able to teach what he has learned from those levels and help get me to where I want to be.

“I think he is a phenomenal coach and very honest and it was just the right decision for me to come play for him.”

Fry is certainly happy Nwanna made the decision to be a Razorback.

“We just call him ‘Boise,”’ Fry said. “He really can scratch the back of his calves standing up; he’s that long. That’s what we really need. I have some kids with some length, but this is crazy length, this is NFL length. This is the type that he can put his arm out and guys can’t get to him, and that’s huge in this league because you know how long those defensive ends are.

“Chibueze is a great kid, a very quiet kid. He’s still raw, still has to grow and still has to get stronger, but with that frame he has and the type of kid he is and the type of work ethic he has, it’s only going to get better. I see him as one of those guys that he’s going to come in early, going to attack the weight room. He’s very smart and he understands football, and understands what he needs to do.”

Nwanna is part of an Arkansas 2019 recruiting class that is ranked 12th nationally by Rivals.

“Our class looks great with some really good talent in it,” Nwanna said. “I think it is the start of something big at Arkansas and the turnaround will come quicker than some people think. I know I am going to get there and help 2020 recruiting be great, too. We’ll just keep on going.”

Nwanna only spent 48 hours in Fayetteville on his official visit, but feels like it is a place he can call home.

“The biggest thing I noticed about Fayetteville people is how friendly they are and how the people look out for each other,” Nwanna said. “I think it is a place I am going to be very happy at as I look to grow as a player and a person.”

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