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Betting on himself: Saturday signified hard work paying off for Ike Ogbogu

After years of waiting his turn, junior quarterback Ike Ogbogu finally got his turn to show what he can do Saturday night in UH's route of Grambling State. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

After years of waiting his turn, junior quarterback Ike Ogbogu finally got his turn to show what he can do Saturday night in UH’s route of Grambling State. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Waiting had been the story of Ike Ogbogu’s football career.

Coming out of high school, the 6-foot-1-inch quarterback kept waiting and waiting for a Division 1 offer but it never seemed to come. The one Division 1 offer Ogbogu did receive, which came from Cornell, was quickly revoked when the university underwent a coaching staff change.

From there, Ogbogu could have gone the JUCO route, but he decided against that path because he wanted to attend a four year college. 

Ogbogu looked all over the country for any Division 1 four year university that would take him but no one seemed to take interest in him.

Then came Houston.

“It really ended up being Houston cause it was the only school that replied back to me,” Ogbogu said. “I was out in high school just sending my film to everybody. I’m talking about everybody. Head coaches, assistant coaches, GAs. Everybody.”

In 2017, the  San Jose, California native walked on at UH. But this was just the beginning of a long, uphill climb for Ogbogu.

Having to sit behind other quarterbacks on the depth chart was difficult for Ogbogu, but he stayed the course, putting in long hours daily so that when his opportunity finally arrived he would be ready.

After four long years watching from the sidelines, Ogbogu’s moment in the spotlight finally arrived on Saturday when starting quarterback Clayton Tune exited in the first quarter against Grambling State after aggravating a hamstring injury he suffered a week prior.

“I knew I was going to play at some point this game, so when that moment came for me to go in it just felt good to get out there,” Ogbogu said.

Ogbogu quickly settled into the game, marching the Cougars down the field on his second possession under center and connecting with sophomore receiver Nathaniel Dell for his first collegiate touchdown pass, a major milestone for a man who had waited so long to get his shot under the bright lights.

“It was kind of all just a blur,” Ogbogu said about his first touchdown pass. “It felt amazing just after congratulating the guys on a good drive and then looking up in the stands and seeing my family and friends up there. It meant the world to me for them to see them see me succeed out on the field.”

From there, Ogbogu was in rhythm, carving up the Grambling State defense play after play leading UH to a 45-0 route.

Ogbogu finished 14 for 22 for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

“I thought (Ogbogu) played pretty good,” said UH head coach Dana Holgorsen. “He just ran things, knew what we were trying to do … For a kid who hasn’t played a lot of college football, I thought he stepped in and did a great job.”

When the clock hit triple zeros, Ogbogu was at a loss for words as he was surrounded by congratulations from his teammates, coaches, family and friends for his performance.

While Ogbogu does not know when he will take the field next as Tune’s status for the coming week is up in the air, one thing is for certain: Saturday, Sept. 18 is a day that he will never forget.

“This moment right here has been something I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Ogbogu said. “As a walk-on, it’s not the easiest thing to do. I just bet on myself and kept working and working and working and it panned out now.”

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