Q & A with Oli Udoh
DaWindyCity (DWC): Your parents immigrated from Nigeria. What have you learned from them and their experiences that have contributed to where you are today?
Oli Udoh (OU): I learned how to work hard, and that you have to work for everything you want in life. If you want to be successful you have to work harder than everyone else. That’s what they showed me growing up and that’s how I approach life every day.
DWC: You thought about pursuing a career in medicine which obviously requires a lot of studying. Is studying film something that you enjoy?
OU: 100 percent. It’s kind of what I do to cool my mind and get away from studying for school is watch film on opponents, or NFL game tape on Lane Johnson, Tyron Smith, or David Bakhtiari. I love to watch the best tackles in the NFL and see how I can improve my game.
DWC: You seem to have the power for a gap blocking scheme, but also the quickness and agility to fit in a zone run blocking scheme? Which one do you think better fits your skill set?
OU: Not really. We have run both in college almost the same amount. We ran a spread with power and zone run equally. I’m comfortable with both schemes.
DWC: You played right tackle in college but got some reps at right guard at the Shrine Game and at the Senior Bowl practices. How do you feel about switching to guard?
OU: I was just talking to my position coach and family about that. I came into the Shrine game thinking I needed to get as many tackle reps as possible to showcase my talent and athleticism because I hadn’t played guard since my freshman year. Then I got in there, started playing guard and basically picked up where I left off. Being able to play both positions will help me moving forward because I’m comfortable I can perform for an NFL team at both of those positions.
DWC: What were some of the things you learned at the Senior Bowl?
OU: I got to go against some really good competition and it showed me what to expect on some level moving forward. It was a really great experience for me and just to be able to use that moving forward in OTAs and minicamp is going to be great.
DWC: What are your strengths as a blocker?
OU: Once I get on I’m very good at maintaining blocks and at pass protection.
DWC: What is the one area you’d like to work on between now and the NFL Draft?
OU: I would say my run blocking fundamentals. I want that to be as good as possible going into rookie minicamp and OTAs. Just being able to get that squared away because I think I’m pretty solid in pass protection. But I’m just taking it one day at a time and have to worry about the combine first.
DWC: What are your plans between now and the draft?
OU: Right now I’m working to prepare for the NFL Combine, so agility, linear speed, lifting, just trying to get our bodies right for Indy.
DWC: You’ve also undergone a pretty significant body transformation. Do you feel you’ve been able to maintain your strength while improving your agility?
OU: That’s what I’ve been trying to do these last few years. I needed to shed the weight but maintain my strength so that’s why I lost it gradually.
DWC: I saw you have been out in California working with Guy McIntyre. What are some of the things you’ve learned from him?
OU: He’s helped me out with my left-sided stance because I haven’t practiced much on my left side. I’ve gotten a lot of good work there on that side.
DWC: What kind of player is the team who drafts you going to get?
OU: Honestly it’s probably going to sound cliched, but from where I’ve started in this whole football journey to where I am now, it shows they are going to get a hard-working guy who will do everything they can for the organization.
DWC: The Bears have a pretty mobile quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. How do you like blocking for a mobile quarterback and what are some of the challenges with that?
OU: It’s always fun because they get to extend the play longer so you have to sustain your blocks longer. But when he scrambles out on your side you have to seal it from the defender and let go so you don’t get hit with holding.
DWC: Matt Nagy likes to get creative and even had an offensive lineman catch a touchdown pass this year. Do you have any thoughts about lining up as a receiver?
OU: (laughter) I would hope so. I hope I display enough athletic ability that they might think about giving me the rock a couple of times in the season.
DWC: I saw that you’ve had the chance to meet with the Bears at both the Shrine game and Senior Bowl. What kind of feedback have you gotten from them?
OU: They’re pretty cool. They like me. I talked to a couple of their scouts, but they’re really interested in me and told me that they can’t wait to see me in Indy. So I get to see them one more time before the draft so I’m really excited to touch base with them again and see where they’re at.