For his first two years on campus, junior Charles Omenihu was growing. He was growing into his role, going from playing fox linebacker as a freshman in Charlie Strong’s defense, to moving down to the defensive line as a sophomore. With those changes in position came changes in weight, and now Omenihu is a built, 275 pounder making the lives of opposing offensive linemen difficult along with his teammates Poona Ford and Chris Nelson.
Though Omenihu is built now, he came into college much lighter. His high school Hudl page listed him at a verified 6-foot-5, 217 pounds. Omenihu told reporters on Tuesday he entered into college weighing 230 pounds, a figure close to what his recruiting profiles say. To get to 275, Omenihu followed a simple process.
“I just told myself that I’m going to eat,” Omenihu said. “I’m going to eat, lift weights, do what the strength staff we had previously tells me, and then do what Coach McKnight and the coaches have been telling me to do now.”
Omenihu made sure to listen to his coaches in the offseason, and the advice, whether it came from strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight or defensive line coach Oscar Giles, has helped him become a difference maker on the defensive line.
“Starting in the offseason (McKnight) really just transformed my body, and allowed me to play a lot more power, a lot more strength,” Omenihu said. “Our offseason program really just helped me develop, and I can also attribute that to Coach Giles. Coach Giles really helped me out, really tuned up my game, and I really thank them for what I’ve been able to do so far.”
Since his freshman year, Omenihu has shown a high motor and effort regardless of where he’s lined up on the field. Even those with high motors need motivation, and one of his teammates provided that to him.
When sophomore Malcolm Roach, who shares an OR designation with Omenihu on the depth chart, came in at the beginning of last season, his impressive early play inspired Omenihu to work harder.
“Malcolm came in as a freshman and was balling,” Omenihu said. “That was something I needed. I needed someone to make me better. Then I needed somebody to make sure I wasn’t complacent in the position I was last year and it just carried on in the offseason. We just pushed each other, made sure each other was on point, on cue, and again it just carried on.”
The defense has been the dominant side of the ball for the Longhorns this year. Todd Orlando’s crew just barely cracks the top 40 in total defense, but their performance in the last three games has made the burnt orange defense look like one of the best in the country.
For Omenihu, the moment he realized that his side of the ball could be special came on the goal line stand against USC early in the game in Los Angeles.
“Even though I wasn’t in on that play, but just seeing the guys out there flying around, not allowing USC to get in the end zone, was just amazing to see that those guys that we train with, that we work so hard with,” Omenihu said. “We come together as a unit and just say “hey we’re going to do it, make this happen,” it’s just beautiful.”
Texas hosts a team with a very unique offensive style this week when they welcome Kansas State. Omenihu knows to make sure his defense, and himself, are ready for a tough matchup where they cannot make many mistakes.
“This K-state offense is very, very physical,” Omenihu said. “Downhill running. These guys are assignment sound. They were just like that last year, and when you watch the tape they’re like that this year.”