May 21, 2013

Ukwuachu embraces move to Baylor

When he signed with Boise St. two years ago, Sam Ukwuachu weighed 203 pounds.
During his redshirt freshman year for the Broncos, he weighed 235.

When he plays for Baylor, he thinks he can peak at 250. Late Monday, Ukwuachu confirmed a Sic'EmSports report that he will transfer to Baylor after visiting the campus the same day. A former star at Pearland, Ukwuachu also considered Florida and Utah.

"It's a done deal, and I'm reporting June 3,'' he said. "Baylor was my best option. It's close to home. It's a good program. [Boise St. Chris Petersen] really helped me to where I wanted to go. Things just didn't work out up there.''

Ukwuachu talked to several players including former teammate and current Baylor reserve Kendall Ehrlich about playing at Baylor. Ukwuachu said he will sign all of his paperwork when he returns to the campus. He said Baylor coaches told him they will look into applying for a hardship waiver so he can play immediately this fall. If the NCAA denies it, he would lose a year of eligibility and have two remaining in 2014 and 2015.

Whenever he plays, there's no doubt he will immediately contribute. Although he didn't start the 2012 opener at Michigan State, Ukwuachu started the last 12 games. He earned All-American Honors, collected 35 tackles, was third with 4.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss and tied for first with three fumble recoveries.

Both Baylor and Boise State operate defensively out of the 4-2-5. The terminology may differ but the principles likely will stay the same. Ukwuachu said his speed rush was his best move.

Playing back in his home state and near his family may max the performance. The distance from home created a strain. While he didn't elaborate, Ukwuachu said he went through some personal ordeals that led to him wanting to leave. Published reports out of Boise stated he had been dismissed. But Ukwuachu said that he and Petersen came to an understanding that it was time for both sides to move on.

"The Baylor coaches knew everything and were really supportive so I appreciate that,'' Ukwuachu said. "I can tell they want to make this program a big family. They wanted to give me the chance, and they will support me better.''

In 2011, Rivals rated Ukwuachu a high three star prospect (5.7) and slotted him as the No. 13 weakside defensive end in the country. Baylor's current two deep at defensive end places Terrance Lloyd on the right side backed up by Penn State transfer Shawn Oakman. The left defensive end features Chris McAllister backed up by Jamal Palmer. Lloyd and McAllister are seniors and keep in mind that Baylor moved Javonte Magee - a defensive end coming out of high school - to defensive tackle. So the opportunity is there.

"I know walking around [the athletic facilities] that Baylor has more than what Boise did,'' Ukwuachu said. "There's definitely a lot more money that goes into their football program. If I have to sit I've done it before. But I'm going to be bigger and stronger. It will all be worth it.''

Baylor has at least one other transfer coming this summer in former University of Hawaii offensive lineman Blake Muir. It remains unclear whether Muir's younger brother Sean will join him.

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