Michael Reese courtesy of UTEP Athletics
NFL prospect, defensive tackle Denzel Chukwukelu, is trying to earn a spot with a team come this year’s draft. The COVID-19 outbreak has made the process quite different for this year’s draft with team workouts canceled and a remote selection process.
Chukwukelu is a 6-4, 290-pound defensive lineman which is the desired frame in today‘s NFL for the position. Chukwukelu played in all 12 games, registering 23 tackles, followed by three sacks and one forced fumble for his last season.
The best game of Chukwukelu‘s senior year came against UTSA, where he registered four total tackles and one sack. Against Texas Tech University, he racked up three total tackles, with one sack and one forced fumble.
In his junior year, he played all 12 games and made eight starts for the Miners. Chukwukelu led all the defensive lineman with 42 tackles, 15 solo tackles and adding 6.5 sacks for a loss. He tied for first in Conference USA with two blocked kicks and had seven quarterback hurries. Chukwukelu had similar numbers on the stat sheet in his junior year to prospect Channing Hames from The University of Marshall Thundering Herd, who was named in the top 25 rated defensive tackles for 2019 on Champion Insiders.
For his four-year career, Chukwukelu accumulated 91 total tackles, with 43 being solo. He also had 13.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.
Some of the teams that seem to have the most buzz about the senior defensive lineman are the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys. There are no workouts at the team‘s facilities, so scouting is conducted virtually.
Currently, in this pandemic, Chukwukelo is staying active to keep his body in shape.
“I do 500 pushups every day, staying healthy, staying in football shape, doing workouts,” Chukwukelu said to the El Paso Times. “When I get to a team, I won’t have to catch up.”
The odds are a bit stacked against him, being selected in this year‘s draft with many other players who have played in a much bigger spotlight at better known schools. But Chukwukelo has been a disruptive defensive player at times while ranking first in Conference–USA and tied for fifth in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) with seven quarterback hurries as a junior. Chukwukelo also blocked two blocked kicks in his junior year. His ability to shine with his versatility is catching the attention of some teams.
Danny Lopez may be reached at [email protected]