Buffs’ Uzo-Diribe Has Come Far, Wants To Go Further
BOULDER – For someone who only started playing football as a junior in high school, defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe has come a long way. And he believes his journey is far from finished.
One of six team-selected captains for Colorado’s 2013 season, Uzo-Diribe enters his senior year as the Buffs’ starting right defensive end. The 6-3, 250-pound Corona, Calif., native has 72 career tackles, 63 of those unassisted. During his CU career he has played in 37 games, starting 17 of those.
His football journey is testimony to the dedicated, persistent and energetic leader that his teammates look up to, on and off the football field.
“I was a basketball player at first, and I just didn’t grow in high school,” Uzo-Diribe said. “I was six-foot-two or six-foot-three and so my junior year, the health coach who was also the football coach, suggested that I start playing football. That’s where all of this started.”
With his basketball career behind him, Uzo-Diribe dedicated himself to his new sport. By the end of his high-school career, he had earned All-Region honors from PrepStar and was ranked the No. 37 weak side defensive end by Rivals.com. Earning second-team All-Big VIII league recognition, he was named his team’s most valuable linebacker for his senior season. His hard work during two seasons paid off, with college offers from UCLA, San Jose State, Nebraska, Oregon State, Arizona and Colorado.
For Uzo-Diribe, making the decision to come to Colorado wasn’t difficult. “I came out to Colorado for a full-contact camp because it was my first offer,” Uzo-Diribe said. “I really liked the coaching staff that was here at the time and built a good relationship with them. It came down to me really liking everything about CU.”
During his four years at Colorado, Uzo-Diribe has played under three different coaching staffs. Despite constant change, Uzo-Diribe believes that positives can come out of every situation. His perseverance and willingness to accept change are two of the qualities that his teammates wholeheartedly admire.
“Perseverance is something that I really believe in,” Uzo-Diribe said. “My parents have always stressed that you have to persevere. Through talks with them, I’ve learned that you just have to keep pushing and that there’s always going to be a good side to things at the end of the day. I’ve always believed in pushing through during hard times. It’s something that you have to do, whether it’s on the field or in life.”
His teammates aren’t the only ones that have noticed Uzo-Diribe’s willingness to lead the team. When first-year CU head coach Mike MacIntyre and staff arrived in early 2013, it didn’t take long for them to notice the dynamic defensive end.
“He’s very energetic and he’s a self-starter,” MacIntyre said. “It’s been great working with him. He’s extremely easy to communicate with and is a very well-respected leader for this football team.”
Uzo-Diribe’s position coach, former NFL defensive end standout Jim Jeffcoat, says he was immediately impressed with Uzo-Diribe’s work ethic during spring workouts.
“He’s very conscientious and works very hard at his trade,” Jeffcoat said. “He really understands the things that we, as coaches, are trying to accomplish, which is always good.”
As witnessed by his teammates and coaching staff, Uzo-Diribe’s passion for the game of football is undeniable. Graduating in May, 2013 with a degree in communications, Uzo-Diribe hopes to pursue his love of football and his dream to play the game at the next level. “If everything works out and that’s an option, I would really like to play in the NFL,” Uzo-Diribe said.
His dream certainly isn’t out of reach. Entering the 2013 season, he is a candidate for All-American and All-Pac 12 honors, while also being named one of 76 players on the official preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award.
For now, however, Uzo-Diribe is focused on finishing his career at Colorado as a leader and making the Buffs proud as a team captain. “It means a lot that my teammates voted me as a captain,” he said. “It’s great to know that they’ve seen the hard work I’ve put in. It’s an honor to know that they believe that I can help lead this team. That’s what I’m focused on for now, helping my team anyway I can.”