Texans first-round draft pick Amobi Okoye and defensive coordinator Richard Smith addressed the Houston media Sunday. Following are their comments.
Texans defensive coordinator Richard Smith
(opening statement on Amobi Okoye) "Welcome, how's everybody doing today? Let's just talk a little bit about Amobi to begin with. We're real fortunate we had an opportunity to draft him, like (Texans General Manager) Rick (Smith) said yesterday. Coach (Gary) Kubiak talked about that we had Amobi as our top rated defensive football player and I'll tell you a couple of reasons why. There's a lot of great players up there, but for his position he has everything we look for. He had the outstanding quickness that you look for in that position. He has great body balance, great change of direction and has the ability which is hard to find at that position to be able to flip his hips, which means he has the ability to train him well and has the opportunity to be a productive inside pass rusher, which we need here on this football team. Also with that, his youth, his intelligence, understanding our scheme, I feel he'll have no problem. He's a young man that's only going to get better. As you look at production throughout the year last year, his production was very high. He had about eight and a half sacks, had about 15 and a half tackles for losses. We think he's got a big upside here, and not only did we get a good football player, we got a great person, which all of you will be able to realize that the future that he's here, and the longer that he's here. He's got a big upside."
DT Amobi Okoye
(opening statement on being drafted by the Texans) "First of all, I would like to say I'm proud and happy to be here in the city of Houston and be a Texan. It was a goal of mine to a top ten pick, and it feels great to be here. I'm ready and willing to take this team places we've never been before, and I'm ready for a winning season. So, I'm glad to be here."
(on what Okoye's specific role on the team will be) "We just got through with our pick that we just had, and he just came in. Basically what we'll use him as, he's a three technique, and when you watch us on film last year, or you watch us in the stands, we need to upgrade the speed and athleticism of our football team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He's got all those intangibles. The other thing you've got is an opportunity which impressed me. He's got very long arms. He's got a 34 ½ inch arm length that he has on him, so that's an opportunity to keep people off of his body. Is there areas for improvement? Yeah, they're with all football players. But he will give us a pass-rush surge up the middle. Like I told you before, he has incredible quickness and balance, change of direction, athleticism in his lower part of his body that you don't find in a lot of athletes, and that's what we're excited for. We see him coming in lining up as a three technique and playing football for us.
(on his age being a factor playing in the NFL) "I'm going to approach it the same way I've pretty much approached everything since my younger, younger days being that I started school early and I've been facing challenges all of my life from high school to college and it's just another step, it's another one to overcome. I love challenges and I'm ready for it. We're just going to have to wait and see where this goes."
(on the Pro Football Report being leaked prior to the draft) "It was unfortunate that something like that kind of leaked out, but there are things you just have to deal with. During the combine interviews I was asked questions which I answered honestly like every other question I was given, and I'm glad I'm here, I'm glad to be here, and I'm glad that's all over with and is in the past and I'm ready to move on and keep on going and striving. I'm glad I'm here and I'm ready to keep on moving and moving forward. I'm really excited and ready for the season."
(on following Hakeem Olajuwon growing up) "I definitely heard a lot about him when I was in Nigeria and my father actually was a Texas Southern graduate and got his MBA from Prairie View (A&M University), so I don't think anyone is more happy. Did you see him on TV? Yeah, so he was definitely, definitely happy when I got picked. Coming back in, flying in yesterday, he was just looking around, and everyone was sleepy other than him."
(on what draft day was like) "I had no idea where I was going to get picked yesterday. I think it was probably one of the craziest drafts in history, and I was just waiting to find out. It was a goal of mine to be in the top 10 and that's what happened, so I'm happy, I'm satisfied and I'm ready to just move on now and keep on doing good things."
(on what he'll bring to the defense) "I think I'm going to bring a lot to the team. I'm a very team oriented person, so I'm ready to show everybody what I have and what I'm willing to bring. I'm going to bring everything I've got, I'm not going to leave anything behind. You're a first round pick and everybody's looking up to you for something big, especially my family, so I'm representing a lot of people. I'm willing and ready for this upcoming season to show what I've got."
(on his recruitment out of high school) "It was kind of like the same thing right now as far as a lot of teams were real high on my age and a lot of teams were iffy. Auburn and Alabama did recruit me. Being a kid then coming out of high school you want to go out of state, it's kind of like a tradition or whatever, so I kind of wanted to go out of state and I felt like the University of Louisville was the best situation as far as the best fit for everything."
(on what or who has allowed him to do what he's done at such a young age) "I'd probably have to say self determination. I'm just a guy who likes to strive for things, like I'm always looking for what's next. I'm learning a lot from my father, too. You've got to always think about what's next. That's probably what I'd have to say, you know, I've always used the inner drive in me to be the best. I'm hoping and willing a lot of people on this team have the same mindset as me. I'm going to hope and see that this leads us to a good season."
(on his first football game he ever saw and how he got into football) "You know, I can't remember the first football game I ever saw. I remember seeing a couple clips in Nigeria and wondering what they were doing. Then when I moved to the states and one of my coaches wanted me to join the team and obviously my parents thought I was getting fat and wanted me to do some kind of extra curricular activity to get fit, so I joined indoor track initially and when that didn't go too good my coach told me to join the team. I joined the team because a friend of mine pretty much told me that, 'you don't want to do that, you'll get broke.' I've got a competitive edge in me and I set out to prove him wrong, and it was a hard first step, but I wasn't going to quit so he could laugh at me."
(on whom he patterns himself after) "Growing up, you know, actually in college my college coach had a couple of clips of John Randall. I just watched him, I liked the way he played, I liked his style and intensity. I liked the way he was on the field. He was out there having fun and that's kind of like what I tend to do, you know, don't make it so much of work, make it something fun. So him and Tommy Harris, I've watched him ever since he got out, too, and Warren Sapp, you can't forget Warren Sapp. Those are three guys I've really watched a lot."
(on talking to Texans DE Mario Williams) "I met him at EA Sports in New York like two or three days ago, we met briefly. We had no idea we would be teammates."
(on the young players on the Texans defense and how he'll fit in) "I think the direction it's going is a real positive direction. This is a young franchise and obviously they're bringing young players in and we're building us something real good, and I'm eager and willing, and just waiting to see where this goes. I can't wait until the first game."
(on why he stayed at home for the draft) "I didn't get invited. They only invite a couple, a handful, because they didn't want people waiting like you saw yesterday. I think it's better being with family and friends. I think it's more enjoyable, it's more fun. I'm glad I didn't get to go."
(on if he see's Okoye flushing people out like Ray Childress did) "Oh definitely. Like I told you before, when you start to evaluate talent at that position, the first thing you look for is initial quickness, and like I told you before he's got that. He's got a lot of God-given ability. He can bend his knees and play with leverage and he has the ability, like I said earlier, where we talk about he has the ability to flip his hips. You don't find a lot of guys who play on the inside that have that ability. Very similar to Ray. Now Ray is a different size athlete. I think Ray was 6-4. But anytime you have the ability inside that can flush the quarterback, production becomes better all around. When you go back to last year, and we had never visited, but a lot of times to able to get a sack we had to call pressure, and anytime you get caught in those situations, those are not good. With Amobi here, hopefully that improves our rush."