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March 20, 2009Sometimes coach really does know best.
Heading into his junior season Allen (Texas) High School offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi wasn't so sure. Ogbuehi had spent his first two seasons at the Texas 5A power playing on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage. He was a big defensive end at 6 feet 4 and around 250 pounds, but on a deep and talented team, playing time was hard to come by.
Following his sophomore season, his coaches suggested a change.
"They told me my freshman year and sophomore year they might move me, but I didn't believe them, and then finally during spring ball they moved me over to offense," Ogbuehi said.
The move was not a welcomed change by Ogbuehi in the early going.
"I hated it," he said. "I was mad. I was defense my whole life and then they moved me to offense. Then when I started to get good at it, I started to like it."
Allen offensive coordinator Jeff Fleener saw the hesitation in Ogbuehi about the move, but he also saw the potential in him and his development.
"It took him a while to get sold on the idea," Fleener said. "We got him over there and he still wasn't sure about it and really felt like he was a defensive guy. As he started to have more success with it, he started to realize that 'I'm pretty good at it' and he started to realize that this is probably where his money is as far as getting to the college level."
Despite his hesitation, the Allen coaching staff saw all of the obvious traits that could make Ogbuehi an elite offensive player.
"We were extremely deep at defensive line and not very deep on the offensive line and then with his size, he's one of those guys where if we get him to offensive tackle, he's got a lot more options for college," Fleener said. "He just looks like an offensive tackle waiting to happen. He has the longest arms I've ever seen."
Once he embraced the move, it took Ogbuehi a little bit of time to catch on. After he did, though, his athleticism took over.
"During spring ball I was sloppy and I was bad," he said. "Everyone was doing good but me. The only advantage I had was my long arms and I was the fastest player, and by the second game I had caught on."
In his first year playing the position, Ogbuehi was a first-team all-state selection in Texas' 5A classification - the only junior offensive lineman to earn such an honor.
And just as his high school coaches predicted, college staffs have taken notice. Currently, Ogbuehi holds offers from Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
"Kansas and Arizona offered a long time ago," he said. "Nebraska was kind of in the middle and A&M and Tech are new."
Among his five early offers, two in particular stand out.
"Tech and A&M probably stick out," he said. "It's because they're close by my house because I'm from Texas. Tech was good last year and A&M has [former Allen teammates] Uzoma Nwachukwu and Stephen Terrell going up there. That's a good thing."
Beyond his offers, there may be several other schools interested in Ogbuehi.
"OU is talking to me," he said. "Auburn is, too. There's a lot of schools that probably talk to my coaches that I don't know about. The big thing for me is staying somewhere down south - Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana - so that it's close to my house. The biggest thing would be to stay in Texas. Or I'd go to OSU or OU because it's not too far of a drive."
In only one year, Ogbuehi has already showed the kind of potential he has at offensive tackle. His expectations and goals are high, however, and he knows that he still has work to do. A lot of that work will be done at the dinner table.
"I'm trying my hardest to get bigger and gain weight," he said. "I've been trying, but I just can't put it on. Right now I'm at 270. I want to be 275 or 280. There's a lot of expectations on me this year so I gotta fulfill them and do the best that I can and to me [that's] be the best in Texas."
Ogbuehi will first attempt to prove that he is the best in Texas at the Nike Football Training Camp in Dallas on April 5. After that the sky is the limit for a player who is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.