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Texan gives Wildcats power at tailback spot

Citizen Staff Writer



The University of Arizona football team has plenty of speed and elusiveness at the tailback position with Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin.

Now it also has raw power thanks to redshirt freshman Greg Nwoko.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound tailback is getting carries during spring drills.

“Greg moves around great for a big guy, but we want him to hit the hole and go downhill and run over people,” UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said.

Nwoko sat back and watched Grigsby and Antolin outrun defenders and find the seams last season.

That style worked well as Arizona changed gears from a pure passing attack to a run-oriented approach for much of the season.

Arizona averaged 158 yards per game on the ground, ranking 48th nationally out of 119 teams. That was up from a 114 ranking and 76.8 yards in 2007.

Nwoko’s presence doesn’t give the Wildcats any reason to slow the rushing attack in 2009.

“He has the size and the power to be a downhill guy we may need,” said UA running back coach Seth Littrell, “especially in goal-line and short-yardage situations, but I don’t think it is fair to categorize him as only a power runner.

“He is pretty elusive for how big he is.”

The unheralded back from Pflugerville (Texas) High School, who rushed for 1,446 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior season, will do anything that’s asked of him.

“They are giving me a lot of reps right now to see what I can do. I am showing them I can run hard,” Nwoko said. “I want to prove I can help them on the field and that I know my stuff and that I can be an every-down back.”

Nwoko was one of the last additions to the 2008 recruiting class, committing to UA 48 hours before signing day.

The all-district back said he had offers from Nebraska and Arkansas, and interest from Texas A&M and Minnesota.

Arizona stayed on him while others were waiting for his SAT scores to come through. He got the right results.

“When I got my SAT score and the grade I needed, I knew I was going to sign here. Arizona did not leave me out,” Nwoko said. “They gave me a chance.”

The Wildcats are giving him a bigger chance with the ball in spring practice.

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