It’s hard to believe that an athlete considered by many to be the top player in his home state didn’t start playing football until his freshman year of high school. Such is the case for Zukudo Igwenagu (S/OLB, Worcester, MA).
We spoke with the stellar athlete and he shared his thoughts on everything from his potential, to the strength of the conference and what sets Rutgers apart from other schools in recruiting. He verbally committed in June and made it official in December during the early signing period.
Blain Bradley: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How’d your senior season go? How have things been since signing?
Zukudo Igwenagu: My senior season was great. Probably the best season I’ve had personally. Things have been slow since signing; I’m just waiting for high school to end so I can get caught up physically and mentally for the incoming collegiate season.
BB: You’re considered the top prospect in the state of Massachusetts. Rutgers plays Boston College next season. What will that game mean to you, playing a home state school?
ZI: Boston College has always been a school I’ve dreamt of going to growing up because of the level of football they play within, especially in our state capital, Boston. I treat every game the same so it doesn’t mean more to me other than an opportunity to win and play my heart out, if granted the opportunity of course.
BB: What made Rutgers stand out from other schools? What do you look most forward to when you get on campus?
ZI: Rutgers is a brotherhood. Other teams are businesses. They kept it real and didn’t fill my head with information I’ve been hearing repeatedly throughout recruiting. I developed a relationship with all the coaches, most especially Head Coach [Chris] Ash. Most recruits meet a head coach once, if ever. As time progressed, trust was built and it was my best option for my family and future. I look forward to being in a college setting and progressing in the next step of my life.
BB: What sets you apart from other players at your position?
ZI: What sets me apart from other players at my position is my speed and athleticism all mixed in with my size. I personally think I have good football IQ, even though I started playing football as a freshman in high school. I know my ceiling in life as a developing football player is very high.
BB: What do you think of the Big Ten? How do you plan to prepare for the competition?
ZI: I believe the Big Ten East is the best conference after the SEC East, and Rutgers gives me a great opportunity to be a star in it. Nobody outworks me, so I plan on doing all I can in each God given day to be the most prepared.
BB: Which coaches are you closest with on the staff? What kind of feedback have they given you?
ZI: I am coolest with Coach Ash and Coach [Vince] Okruch. I get regular feedback on what to do to prepare me the best way possible.
BB: How do you feel about your recruiting class?
ZI: I’m very impressed with my recruiting class. It gives me a lot of confidence and excitement.
BB: Where do you see your career going during your time at Rutgers?
ZI: It’s hard to tell where my career during my time at Rutgers is headed, but hopefully by the grace of God my level of success will never plateau.
BB: If other players were looking at Rutgers, what would you tell them to sell them on the program?
ZI: I tell other recruits what I was told and the brightness of the future. I can go on for a while about why Rutgers is such a good route.
BB: Which player do you look up to the most?
ZI: Jalen Ramsey has been my favorite player ever since I watched him take a fumble to the crib during the Florida State at Boston College game in 2015. He’s always been a player I’ve tried to mimic much before his current popularity. His time at Florida State playing nickel is very influential to me because that is likely what I’ll be playing at the college level.