He grew up in Carson and played collegiately at USC.
So, it’s only fitting that the Los Angeles Chargers drafted Uchenna Nwosu last year, allowing the edge rusher to remain in L.A. as he plays pro ball.
However, Nwosu had no idea that would be the case when he attended the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. The edge rusher was simply hoping to impress enough to be picked in the top two rounds of the draft.
Nwosu did just that, proving worthy of being the 48th overall selection as he quickly earned a role in the Bolts’ defensive rotation. He finished his rookie year with 28 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in the regular season. The 22-year old also proved to be a force in the postseason, sealing the team’s Wild Card win over the Baltimore Ravens with a strip-sack of Lamar Jackson in the final seconds.
So, it’s crazy to think how it was only a year ago that Nwosu was heading into Indianapolis looking to prove his worth.
However, when asked to reflect back on his Combine experience, Nwosu couldn’t help but talk about his alma mater. In fact, he doubts he’d be where he is right now if not for his time suiting up for the Trojans.
“They prepared me a lot, especially mentally,” he explained. “At USC, you know you’re at a very prestigious program. When I was there, we had a great coaching staff and they were able to teach me a lot. A lot of great former NFL players came from there, and they would come back (to visit) and teach me what to expect. It really prepared me for what to expect in the NFL.”
Meanwhile, as Nwosu met with team after team at the Combine, everyone was quick to praise his standout career at USC.
“Everyone said they loved what they saw,” he recalled. “They said they were impressed with what I was able to do. By how hard I played, and how I was able to make (big) plays.”
It’s easy to see why that’s the case.
Nwosu turned heads over his four-year stint with the Trojans, totaling 168 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 20 passes defensed and 12.5 sacks in 53 career games. However, it was his dynamic 2017 season that really caught scouts’ eyes as he dominated to the tune of 75 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 14 passes defensed and 9.5 sacks.
Nonetheless, despite those impressive stats, Nwosu knew he had to ace the Combine to cement his case as a top draft prospect.
He wasn’t alone.
As Nwosu puts it, the Combine was a true pressure cooker as every prospect knew their life-long NFL dream was on the line.
“Everybody was so focused,” he said. “Everybody was locked in. The amount of focus and energy, there was no joking around. Everybody was just so (intense).”
So, what was the best way to combat that environment?
According to Nwosu, it was to simply relax.
To that end, he’s quick to offer advice to his former teammates on how to deal with the upcoming frenzy. While Nwosu was a hot-shot USC product looking to make his mark at the Combine last year, several of his good friends will be put through the ringer in the coming days.
“A lot of my (former) teammates are going to be there - Cam Smith, Porter Gustin, Marvell Tell, Iman Lewis-Marshall and Chuma Edoga,” he said. “I’ve talked them, and they’re very excited about the opportunity. I gave them a few pointers, mainly to calm down and relax, and everything will be alright. Just relax and have fun.”