Monday, April 09, 2007


Stay with me on this story.

When I lived in the upper Midwest, I met an African college student at a professional association meeting. As I got to know him I asked about his experience in the United States and the conversation turned to his view of schooling here versus in his country. He felt that U.S. colleges were far superior to those in Africa, but that elementary and high schools in Africa were far better than here.

Sure, his school house was the equivilent of a picnic hut. His African teachers were more rigorous, as was the curriculum, he said. He felt the students were more disciplined, in more ways than one. It was unheard of for a pupil to cut class. There would be no one for them to play with. All their friends would be in school. Cable is not as widely available, you know.

Misbehavior was not tolerated. His school friends laughed at anyone who did drugs for doing such a dopey, foolish thing. Bad acts at school would earn whippings, to be followed by another at home for embarrassing the family. My father told me of stories this mentality in 1930s Washington. How times have changed.

My African acquaintance felt he was better prepared for University than were his American classmates.

I told that story to tell this one.

The Redskins are said to have their eye on rookie prospect Amobi Okoye, age nineteen. Despite his tender age, he played four years as a defensive lineman for the University of Louisville. How can that be at age nineteen? Okoye is native to Anambra, Nigeria. He immigrated here with his family as a schoolboy. At age twelve, he tested into the ninth grade and would graduate high school at age sixteen.

Okoye never heard of American football until his arrival here. Yet, at age thirteen, he was a DL starter at Robert E. Lee High (Robert E. Lee, how ironic). As a sixteen year old true freshman (no redshirt) at Louisville, he appeared in thirteen games playing on the defensive line. He earned a starting role during his sophomore year, and kept it until his senior year. Now he's done with college when most players his age are coming off their redshirt year, all because of how(ever) he was academically prepped by those schools in Africa.

Okoye may be an NFL starter before he's old enough to drink. Shades of Freddie Adu.


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