As we continue to countdown and preview the 2014 football season, we turn our attention to Chima Uzowihe, who has the potential to be Big South Defensive Player of the Year. Well, that’s according to Coach Turner Gill who said he is “expecting (Chima) to compete for defensive player of the year” in the Big South this season.
After coming in relatively unknown out of Lamar High School in Texas as part of Gill’s first recruiting class, Uzowihe has developed into a 1st team All-Conference performer. Last season, as just a sophomore, he recorded 43 tackles, 7 sacks, and 9 tackles for a loss. His 7 sacks were good for 2nd in the conference as he was named to the 1st team All-Conference list in just his 2nd season. The box score doesn’t always do Chima justice. During the 2013 season, he was routinely in the opposition’s backfield creating havoc. If he wasn’t sacking the quarterback, he was forcing him out of the pocket or into a rushed throw.
This season Chima will have a new role as he transforms from an under-the-radar pass rusher to an experienced leader on defense. “I’m pretty nervous about that”, he told us back in November, but also credited several players for teaching him how to become a leader. “I’m trying to take from Cory Freeman and Jibrille Fewell, learning from them how to be a leader so I can step into that role.”
With several defensive lineman graduating last season, Chima will be leaned on to anchor the front line this year both with his play on the field and with his leadership in the huddle and off the field.