Jerry Attaochu (uh-TAU-choo) showed tremendous growth in his second NFL season in 2015.
He finished the year fifth on the team in total tackles, while ranking second in sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hits. After being slowed by a nagging hamstring during his rookie season in 2014, Attaochu bounced back in 2015 to play in 15 games and start 12. He and fellow outside linebacker Melvin Ingram formed a potent 1-2 punch as they combined for more than half (16.5) of the Chargers’ 32 sacks on the season.
Attaochu was born in Ibadan, Nigeria and moved to the United States when he was eight. His father, Paul, was an exchange student in the U.S. in the 1980s, who later returned to Nigeria where he married Attaochu’s mother, Comfort. When the family returned to the States, they settled in Washington, D.C. Attaochu didn’t start playing football until the ninth grade and it was a bit of a fluke when he stumbled into a line for athletic physical exams, thinking they were for the soccer team, only to discover they were actually for the football team at Archbishop Carroll High in D.C.
Attaochu went ahead and parlayed that mistake into a successful collegiate career at Georgia Tech that saw him earn All-America and All-ACC accolades. One of the nation’s most gifted athletes, Attaochu racked-up a school-record 31.5 sacks in three seasons for the Yellow Jackets.
The Chargers selected Attaochu in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He had long had his eye on becoming a Bolt. Eager to play for the Chargers, he had actually approached several members of the Chargers’ coaching and scouting staff at the 2014 NFL Senior Bowl to gauge the team’s interest in him.
Since August 2014, Attaochu’s brother, Samuel, has lived with him in California. At the urging of their mother, Samuel left the master’s program at Old Dominion University to move to California and help his brother acclimate to life as a professional athlete. Two-and-a-half years older than Jerry, Samuel eventually was admitted to the master’s program at San Diego State and he’s on track to graduate with a degree in public administration in 2017.
Attaochu grew up playing soccer. He and his brother played on the same middle-school team in Nigeria. Both still follow the sport closely and Jerry’s favorite national teams are the United States, Nigeria and France.
Attaochu was a science, technology and culture major at Georgia Tech. With an eye toward life after football, he spent two years interning with the Barton Executive Search Firm in Atlanta, where Tech’s campus is located.
Attaochu has also entrenched himself in community endeavors both in Southern California and his hometown of Washington D.C. In February, Attaochu and teammate Josh Lambo joined forces with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, and the Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition to help fight teen domestic violence. He and Lambo were featured in public service announcements and ads as part of the new “Now is the Time” outreach campaign.
In April, Attaochu began working on Capitol Hill with the American Diabetes Association as part of their Team Tackle campaign. Attaochu joined forces with other NFL players to raise diabetes and pre-diabetes awareness.
Also in Washington D.C., Attaochu works closely with the Glory’s Hope Sickle Cell Foundation, which his father founded in 2015. The foundation supports research, education and creates awareness of Sickle Cell in both Africa and the United States.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Second-round pick by Chargers (50), May 9, 2014...signed May 21.
2015: Inactive Sept. 13 vs. Detroit (hamstring)...selected as team captain by Head Coach Mike McCoy for Cleveland game Oct. 4 and responded with career-high two sacks and team-high four quarterback hits in 30-27 win...two tackles for loss among season-high 10 tackles and team-leading three quarterback hits Oct. 12 vs. Pittsburgh on ESPN’s Monday Night Football...two third-down sacks to cap off three-and-outs Oct. 18 at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field...team-high three quarterback hits Nov. 9 vs. Chicago...early fourth-quarter sack to help force three-and-out Nov. 22 vs. Kansas City...Dec. 13 at Kansas City had early tackle for loss, forced fumble on punt return, and late third-quarter sack on 3rd-and-10 play...shared 11-yard sack and two tackles for loss in 30-14 win over Miami Dec. 20...helped force punt on Dolphins’ opening series of game with one-yard tackle for loss on first down and three-yard shared tackle for loss on 2nd-and-11...on opening series of third quarter, helped cap three-and-out with 11-yard shared sack with Melvin Ingram on 3rd-and-9...team-high three tackles for loss, all in third quarter during three-and-outs, Dec. 24 at Oakland.
2014: NFL debut on national TV in Week 1 at Arizona and blocked punt that led to field goal...then made special teams tackle at 18 on ensuing kickoff...in third quarter, four-yard sack and forced fumble on 3rd down was recovered by Dwight Freeney and led to TD for 17-6 lead...injured hamstring Sept. 21 at Buffalo...inactive vs. Jacksonville (Sept. 28) and New York Jets (Oct. 5)...returned Oct. 12 at Oakland, but re-injured hamstring...inactive Oct. 19 vs. Kansas City, Oct. 23 at Denver and Nov. 2 at Miami...late nine-yard sack in 13-6 win against Oakland Nov. 16.
COLLEGE: Third-team All-America by Associated Press and CBS Sports and first-team All-ACC as senior after placing second in ACC and sixth in nation with 12.5 sacks...school-record 31.5 career sacks...single-game high four sacks Georgia (2013)...honorable mention All-ACC as sophomore and junior...2012 ACC Linebacker of Week after three sacks vs. Maryland...2011 ACC Linebacker of Week and Football Writers Association National Player of Week after three sacks and forced fumble against North Carolina...started 37 of 49 career games and totaled 196 tackles, 43.5 tackles for loss, interception and four forced fumbles...played at Georgia Tech from 2010-13...science, technology and culture major.
PERSONAL: Born in Ibadan, Nigeria...team captain as junior and senior at Archbishop Carroll High in Washington, D.C.