- Attended Sachse High School in Sachse, Texas
- Played against University of Texas defensive lineman Charles Omenihu in High School. Their schools were rivals and both of are of Nigerian descent.
- Originally committed to Iowa State before changing to Nebraska
- Cousin, Dexter Imade played running back at Texas State. Another cousin, Deion Imade, played defensive back at Oklahoma State
- Was “over the weight limit’ for running backs in little league, so he was relegated to the offensive and defensive lines until Middle School
- High school
- Three-star recruit
- Ran track in High School (100 meters)
- Played in a pass-heavy offense in High School, prepared him well for Scott Frost’s offense
- Wasn’t happy with his playing time following his sophomore year, so Ozigbo met with coaches and took their pointers to heart. Came back, focused on working harder at practice. Former coach said Ozigbo reminded him of Darren Sproles in the way that Sproles set the tone at practice, and how it would follow him into the game.
- Set a goal to be the starting running back his senior season at Nebraska. Dieted, worked hard with strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval. Came into camp trimmed down and appeared to gain a step.
- Remained patient as the back-up to start the season, but when Ozigbo got his opportunity he seized it. Rushed 17 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Former starter Greg Bell didn’t take the benching well, left the team and was released from his scholarship.
- Stated his favorite part of practice are the teach periods because they “really get to go in-depth into what we’re doing and ask questions as we’re going. Everything is just slowed down.”
- Very goal oriented, wanted to become Nebraska’s “Football Lifter of the Year,” and was able to accomplish that with a lot of hard work.
- Dealt with a strain to the sacroiliac joint in his lower back to end his sophomore season and he tweaked in going into spring practices his junior year.
- 39 FBS games
- 2018 Advanced Statistics (Min 50 attempts)
- Touchdown percentage: 7.7%
- Yards After Contact: 634
- Yards After Contact Per Attempt: 4.1 (15th)
- Broken Tackle Percentage: 29.7% (25th)
- 1st down Percentage: 33.5% (17th)
- 2018 Advanced Statistics (Min 50 attempts)
Fifty-nine percent of Devine Ozigbo's rushing yards came vs. 6-man boxes in 2018
Yards per attempt
Avg. vs 8-man box 5.9
Avg. vs 7-man box 3.8
Avg. vs 6-man box 8.8
Avg. vs 5 man box 9.8
65% of his carries over the last 3 years came out of Shotgun (99% in '18)
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) February 7, 2019
- Michigan St.
- Ohio State
- Year – Senior
- Height – 6’0″
- Weight – 219 pounds (E/W Shrine Game Weight)
- Well-built, carved frame with thick muscular thighs and hamstrings that cut through the uniform
- Extremely strong player overall, especially in his legs and hips
- Appears to have long arms to which he maximizes in the run and pass game
- Short muscled, but still exhibits flexibility in his legs and exhibits elite ankle flexion
- Displays nimble feet which he uses to ‘walk around’ blocks; takes sharp turns to walk around his teammates’ blocks or explosive lateral cuts to jump gaps.
- Very little mileage; carried the rock 419 times
- Displays patience on zone runs; “slow to, fast through”
- Routinely uses eyes and body to ‘play peek-a-boo’ in and out of holes, to get defenders to commit to their run fits
- Stays tight to combo blocks, and double teams
- Can jump gaps on the fly as the defense takes his options away. Credit to his lateral burst, agility and quickness.
- Consistently processing the quickest and easiest line past a defender or to the end zone
- Two hands on the ball until he shoots through the line of scrimmage
- Closes the cushion between he and the possible tackler, then makes sharp turns or cuts and a short burst to separate
- Exhibits aggressive, sudden and often times shocking burst for a guy his size
- Leg strength, hip mobility and flexibility are the cornerstones to his elusiveness
- Two-way go abilities as a running back. If a defender has him ‘squared up,’ that tackler is going to lose because he has the lateral agility to jump cut in either direction.
- Routinely uses blockers as shields or pillars. This gives him angles to break tackles but more importantly avoid tacklers by ‘stepping around’ them. Especially tacklers who are attempting to dive at his legs to bring the big fella down.
- Adjusts to stimuli quickly soon after making cuts
- Excels in confined one on one situations, can make defenders miss in a ‘phone booth’
- Has a repertoire of shoulder and head fakes to make defenders commit to their gap or attempt an arm tackle.
- Very effective off-hand; uses a violent chop or push-by on defenders paired with a jump cut. He escorts them out of his personal space so that he can carry on.
- Passing Game
- In pass protection; has the strength to absorb contact and ability to mirror defenders. But also uses a strong punch, arm length and hands to keep rushers at bay.
- Exhibits the ability to line up wide and run basic route stems
- Natural hands catcher who displays the ability to catch away from his frame and take a hit from a defender
- Quickly turns into a runner after reeling in the pass
- Vision, spatial awareness processing skills not as strong with multiple pullers inserting into the line of scrimmage.
- Can sometimes be informational, leverage overload.
- Struggled to process leverage of moving defenders and how to properly set up multiple blocks to create an alley
- Timing of the run thrown off due to manually processing
- Needs time to process best avenue for escape behind the line of scrimmage
- Can struggle to process reads when the keys aren’t clearly defined pre-snap. Reads three-techniques well on inside zone, but will struggle when faced with different defensive looks.
- Takes time to hit top speed
- Earlier in season, looked lackadaisical; like he was adjusting to the play speed. Specifically noticeable versus Wisconsin.
- Every so often, he gets too cute or presses the line of scrimmage too long and will get tripped up by defenders inserting into their gaps
- Does not operate well with trash at his feet
- Will double catch, bobble or drop passes with high velocity
- Needs to work on blocks
- Consistency on staying engaged as a blocker on wide receiver screens, QB draws or two-back running plays needs improvement
- Technique needs refinement on cut blocks.
- Telegraphed cut blocks from distance, allowing defenders to avoid and pressure the QB.
- Execution of pass protection after a play fake needs some work
- Question marks
- Long speed? What will his 40-yard dash time be?
- Beneficiary of well-designed offense? Scott Frost schemed a lot of light boxes and advantageous situations for his players.
- Scheme dependent? Will he only be effective in a zone run scheme? Most of his production from 2018 came from the Shotgun formation
- Lack of production over the course of his career
Devine Ozigbo is a name that not many, including myself, knew much about until he started putting up big numbers in his final season. He showed incredible patience and a team-first attitude leading up to that moment and when the opportunity arose, he seized it. Ozigbo appears to be goal oriented and he met several of his goals set prior to the season. His goal to be the Football Lifter of the Year was accomplished and that hard work in the weight room and at practice began to show on the field. Ozigbo’s rocked up frame, incredible lower body strength and flexibility set the tone for his entire skillset. He excels on inside zone runs, where he can use his blocks as pillars, ‘walk around’ them or use his eyes and 219-pound frame to sell defenders on false intentions. This gets defenders to come downhill, insert into their run gap and to their dismay, Ozigbo will then jump cut sometimes one, two or three gaps and run away from defenders. Once he gets into the second and third level of the defense, forget about it. He plays chicken with tacklers by running directly at them, closing the distance then lets them “win” by displaying his ‘two-way go’ elusive abilities. He will get within a half yard of the defender who has him squared up, avoid a tackle with a tightly wound shoulder shake, a violent off-hand push-by and or juke in either direction. Ozigbo is rarely brought down by a single tackler, those that try, bounce off his chiseled aura, and are typically left on the turf. Once the train is rolling, it takes several defenders to bring him down and even then, they end up on their back.
“Watching him last year, he was a completely different player. He deserves a ton of credit for inheriting a new coaching staff, going to work, doing what we asked of him, being patient as we were playing some other guys and he was just in a rotation. And he persevered through all of that.” -Scott Frost
The question marks about how his lack of production and top end speed will translate are valid. These are a couple reasons that he probably wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. A source close to Ozigbo informed us on Tuesday that he was a combine snub. Our source stated that aside from the lack of production from his freshman to junior seasons, they don’t understand why he is being overlooked. As far as his speed, this source told us they expect him to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.54 to 4.58 range. Ozigbo is training at SPE sports in Boca Raton, Florida, to prepare for the draft process.
Aside from athletic testing, Ozigbo needs to improve his processing of defensive fronts. At times, his processor lagged when defenses sent late run-throughs that changed his reads or keys. The hiccup in his mental processing of the front would lead to indecision on his best escape route to get into the second level. This was also an issue when there were multiple pullers on gap type schemes meant to ‘hit’ up inside. Setting up those blocks in order to come to a final entry point into the line of scrimmage, seemed daunting at times. The proper timing and pace needed on these runs to set up blocks would then be thrown off and Ozigbo would sometimes be tripped up by pursuing defenders. While he is a decent receiver out of the backfield or lined up wide, when the quarterback threw with velocity, Ozigbo struggled to cleanly catch the ball. His most glaring weakness and one that is completely coachable is his cut blocking technique. Too often he telegraphed the block from a distance, giving the pass rusher more than enough time to avoid it. Cut blocking is most effective when done in close quarters at the very last second of contact to completely catch the rusher off guard. His timing simply needs work.
Overall, I have a third-round grade on Ozigbo. I believe his best fit is in a creative spread scheme if the team wants him to play immediately. But he will be a back who will show flashes in year one in a zone running scheme, especially if primarily based out of Shotgun. This structure will play to his explosive lateral abilities and help his vision as he presses the line of scrimmage. The tape doesn’t lie. We can sit here all day and discuss how his long speed is a question mark but his game tape says otherwise. He has the game speed to play with NFL talent and enough speed to take it the distance. Once on the field on Sundays, that will shine through. Also, he is very underrated as a pass catcher. Even though he may not look like a typical receiving back, I believe he has the ability to keep defenses honest on early downs as a receiver not just a runner. While I have a third-round grade on him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is taken later given his position, the depth in the draft, lack of production and question marks I outlined earlier. I think regardless of where he is drafted, giving him reps in year one will allow him to adjust to NFL game speed but the payoff will come in year two when he will likely be ready to carry the load full time.