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Old 06-02-2012, 01:01 AM   #1
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Default Veterans embrace, push rookie DE Igbinosun

Veterans embrace, push rookie DE Igbinosun
June 2, 2012 12:05 am

By Stephen J. Nesbitt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ikponmwosa Igbinosun has been hearing his name a lot lately.

Pardon your surprise -- and your mispronunciation.

"People call me Ike," Igbinosun explained.

Trotting off the Steelers' South Side practice field Thursday, Igbinosun heard his name and spun to answer. A No. 24 jersey brushed past -- it was for cornerback Ike Taylor. He heard it again, but that one was for running back Isaac "Ike" Redman.

Igbinosun, a 6-foot-4, 288-pound defensive end out of Southern Connecticut State, is learning that he isn't the only Ike in town, but he quickly is making a name for himself, one that is correctly pronounced EEK-pom-osa EEG-bin-oh-sin.

The Rahway, N.J., native signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent after the draft April 28 to become the first Southern Connecticut State product to don a Steelers uniform. Igbinosun earned all-ECAC honors last season and took part in the NAIA Senior Bowl.

He led Owls linemen with 58 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his senior season and impressed in his pro-day workout by running a 4.94 40-yard dash.

The speed comes from his mother, Mercy, a former long-distance running star in Benin, Nigeria. The footwork comes from his father, Solomon, who played semi-pro soccer in Benin before the family moved to New Jersey in the late 1980s.

The first of his family to be born in the United States, Igbinosun was given a 19-letter name that uses nearly half the alphabet. It means "Grace from God" in Nigerian, he said.

After practice Thursday, he faced the stiffest test of his young Steelers career -- he was asked to spell the names of his five siblings for the record.

He paused, laughed, and began spelling letter-by-letter, all five brothers -- Osarumen, Oghogho, Amen and Osazuwamen -- and both sisters -- Imaghbo and Iriagbonse. He knows birthdays, too.

"Hope I didn't get any of those names wrong," Igbinosun said. "If I did, I'm going to be buying some flowers."

Football wasn't his first love, basketball was. It wasn't until Igbinosun plateaued at 6-foot-3 in ninth grade that he realized he and his lacking ball skills weren't built for playing in the paint.

So he moved to the trenches. In his first two years of organized football at Rahway High School, Igbinosun played mostly on the offensive line, where his older brothers starred. As a junior, he finally found starting time on the defensive line and flourished.

The lineman can still throw down an impressive array of dunks.

Although he grew up 20 miles from Metlife Stadium, Igbinosun insists he is not a New York Giants fan.

"No," he said, giving a sheepish grin. "The Steelers are my team.

"The Giants weren't my team. They don't represent New Jersey -- they represent New York. I know a lot of people are going to hate me for saying that."

He named his favorite players growing up: Giants greats Michael Strahan and Lawrence Taylor.

"It looks like I'm a Giants fan right now, doesn't it?" Igbinosun asked.

It's OK. You're sure you're not a Giants fan?

"No, I'm not. I'm all Steelers."

Igbinosun classifies himself as a bull-rushing defensive end, saying he tries to mimic the playing style of Detroit Lions' defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh -- the between-the-whistles aggressiveness, not the extracurricular antics.

At 21, Igbinosun is the second-youngest player on the roster and only three days older than safety Robert Golden. Such youth comes with its challenges, but Igbinosun said the support from veterans has been overwhelming.

"I never thought it was going to be like this," he said. "I thought it was going to be a lot more individual, but these veterans took me in and keep pushing me."

He singled out Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel as his biggest supporters.

"It's a great group of older guys, and they're really helpful," Igbinosun said. "Sometimes, they can get down on you when you're having a bad day, but they want to see you come back from that bad day, that bad play and succeed."

The transition from New Haven, Conn., to Pittsburgh over the past month has come as quite the shock. There weren't too many people paying attention at Southern Connecticut State, but now he's heard his name brutally mispronounced on radio programs as fans and sportscasters alike scurry for a proper nickname.

Igbinosun is just as excited to meet the fans that are so curious about him.

"I heard when you go into training camp there are 15,000 people there," Igbinosun said. "That might be similar to a home game back at Southern."

With any luck, Ikponmwosa Igbinosun might just become a household name in Pittsburgh.

For now, he's Ike.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2193 and Twitter: @stephenjnesbitt.
First Published June 2, 2012 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...#ixzz1wbpCFKzT
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Old 06-02-2012, 01:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Veterans embrace, push rookie DE Igbinosun

I really like this guy and although it will be hard for him to make the 53 man roster I definitely would love to see "Ike" make the practice squad.
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: Veterans embrace, push rookie DE Igbinosun

Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Undrafted Free Agent Ikponmwosa Igbinosun Could Land a Roster Spot at Defensive End

Submitted by Syndicated sources on July 12, 2012

Every year, it seems as though the Pittsburgh Steelers sign an unknown gem as an undrafted rookie free agent, with a player coming from nowhere to make the squad. This year, the team signed a handful of prospects, who hope to be that player.At a quick glance it punter Drew Butler would seem to be the odds on favorite to be that player at this early stage of the offseason. The former All-American from the University of Georgia has NFL bloodlines, and performed well (albeit erratic) in the toughest conference in college football.

Another player, who is more unknown than Butler, also may have a viable shot at a roster spot, defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun from Southern Connecticut. The Steelers will have at least one roster spot open at defensive end behind starters Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood, and top back up, last years number one pick Cameron Heyward. As the team enters camp, competition for this spot should be one of the best battles in Latrobe.

At this point, Steelers 101 believes that one of last year’s undrafted rookie free agents Corbin Bryant, who should have made the team in 2011, has the inside track at the position(defensive line breakdown May 2012). The 6-4, 300 pound defensive end was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out f Northwestern in July 2011 and spent time between their active roster and practice squad during the 2011 season, at one-point taking the spot of Aaron Smith when he was placed on injured reserve. However, like last year when he was challenging for a roster spot, he will face stiff competition.

Igbinosun may be from a small school, but he has solid athleticism and is said to be a leader on and off the field. The senior defensive end has good size (6-3, 288 pounds) and was a bull against the small school competition he faced over his career. As a senior, he was named All-Northeast-10 Conference, All-ECAC and Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-Region honors for his play. In all, he recorded 58 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries and seven sacks. He followed that outstanding season with an amazing pro-day workout, where he posted some impressive numbers including a 4.94 40-yard dash at 288 pounds.

If he shows up and flashes that same tenacity and athleticism, he could make it difficult for the Steelers to ignore him and keep him from the opening day roster. Although, they could try to limit his exposure in exchange for a year of development on the practice squad.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/ar...e_end/11205682
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