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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The leader of the pack

Photo by File

Julien Obioha makes game winning tackle against Arkansas in 2014

A&M’s senior class has seen a lot in its time — upsets, the transition to the SEC, Kyle Field’s expansion and a revival of the Aggie football program.

Since being a freshman in the historic 2012 season, Julien Obioha witnessed upsets on the road, big-time bowl victories and a Heisman winner. During his tenure, A&M has developed into a legitimate SEC contender. Now, as his final year of SEC play enters  full swing, Obioha said he and his team are prepared for big things.

“SEC play does not get any better,” Obioha said. “[Coach Sumlin] always says, ‘The gap between NFL football and SEC football is not that huge.’ If you want to get to the next level, here’s your chance to get to the next level and play against guys like this … I think we’re ready for this one.” 

Obioha has seen it all. But before coming to A&M, he had never been to a stadium much bigger than ones he played in during high school. In fact, the first time he ever suited up in an Aggie uniform was the first time he had ever even witnessed a college football atmosphere.

“The Florida game was the first college football game I had ever been to,” Obioha said. “So, the first college football game I ever went to, I was playing in it.”

Obioha has played a lot of snaps in an Aggie uniform. He played 102 plays during his freshman year against Louisiana Tech alone. Back then however, A&M did not have the depth it possesses in 2015. Head coach Kevin Sumlin has stocked the program with young players that fit the “SEC mold,” and Obioha said having that kind of talent behind him is a relief.

“Me and [Alonzo Williams] always joke and say, ‘Hey, do you want to play 100 snaps this game?’ Obioha said. “It’s awesome having that much talent, because when you play guys like that so much, you get injured. And God forbid you do get injured, you have a guy right behind you that can play just as well as you, so the team just kind of carries on … The good thing about that is it creates competition as well.”

The senior defensive end has become a leader to young talent like Daylon Mack. A five-star recruit out of Gladewater, Texas, Mack was the final piece to the best recruiting class in the Sumlin era. He already set social media on fire with his jaw-dropping hit against Nevada in just his third career college game. Obioha said the young player still makes mistakes, but once Mack makes the most of his talent, the defense is going to be downright frightening. 

“We all know coming out of high school he had that many stars and that huge of a following, he obviously has talent,” Obioha said. “But, it’s about capitalizing on that talent. He’s too big and strong of a guy for some of the plays we see from him … He’s a young kid though. You can’t get mad at him for that kind of stuff, he’s a rookie … He’s been playing great, it’s just that we want more plays out of him because he is so talented.”

Obioha’s 2015-16 season was briefly postponed due to surgery for appendicitis, keeping him out of the first two games. Besides that, Obioha has never been a victim of injury at A&M. According to him, though, it is not luck -— it’s because of yoga.

“Well, I’ve been doing yoga for a while, but [my teammates] do yoga on Sundays,” Obioha said. “Yoga makes you more flexible. I tell them all the time, ‘Improving flexibility limits injury,’ and that helps them stick with it. You want to always be healthy. Flexibility can help with that, and it also makes you a better athlete. So, yoga really helps athletes in general.” 

Obioha said he has been practicing yoga for a few years, but is hindered by a “bad back.”

“Some guys are just naturally flexible, but I was not blessed with being that flexible so I have to work at it more,” Obioha said.

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  • Senior defensive lineman Julien Obioha is using yoga to increase his flexibility. 

    Photo by File
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