The best way to get to know Godwin Igwebuike without actually getting to know Godwin Igwebuike is on Twitter. Give @akagodwin a follow, and prepare to have your timeline flooded with all manner of unbridled, stream of consciousness spontaneity.
Keeping up with every tweet is impossible – Igwebuike stays up late into the night browsing the internet, or reading his bible (his name is literally translated as “Friend of God”) or just letting his mind run to disparate and unique places. This is how I came to know Igwebuike’s digital persona, but a conversation revealed something you don’t often see in elite Division I football recruits these days.
“There’s a lot of stuff on the internet. You can get sidetracked pretty quickly,” Igwebuike joked.
If Twitter is his medium for virtual entertainment, the acting stage is his real-life arena for creative expression. For the very first time this year, Igwebuike translated his Twitter entertainment value into a tangible Thespian exposition. Cast as the Prince in Pickerington North’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast,” Igwebuike wound up taking on various character roles (including a knight, dancer and one of “Gaston’s” men) throughout the performance.
“It was something I just decided I wanted to do this year,” Igwebuike said of his experience in the school casting. “I wanted to do it last year but I never really got the chance. It was a nice way to switch things up.”
The Beast itself wasn’t one of Igwebuike’s assignments. He was the Beast before it became a beast – the handsome prince who undergoes a ghastly physical transformation into a feral but compassionate monster. When Igwebuike laces up for Pickerington North or whatever high school All-Star game or recruiting camp calls his name, his transformation from Twitter and stage entertainer to explosive on-field presence is just as jarring. Igwebuike becomes, in short, a beast – in the most purely football sense possible.
This is a ruthlessly crude characterization; Igwebuike, one of the most highly-coveted prospects in Northwestern’s 2013 class, is a highly-skilled, versatile, two-way star. In fact, his talents are so diverse that Northwestern coaches haven’t even settled on his position yet. “It’s a hard decision,” he said.
The choices boil down to two positions: running back and safety. Igwebuike maintains he has no preference either way, and that he expects coaches to help him reach a consensus sometime this spring.
He also understands the gravity of the decision, and what it could mean for his career long-term.
“It’s a really big decision,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that sticks with you for a long time, so I have to make sure I’m making the right choice.”
Signing Igwebuike, positional uncertainty aside, was yet another tentpole in the Wildcats recent recruiting upswing. Igwebuike had offers from more than 15 schools, and was pursued heavily by Michigan and Ohio State – two programs that, according to pretty much any national recruiting analyst, have cornered the market on elite talent in the Midwest. Igwebuike is a shining exception, and his addition to Northwestern, whether as a safety or running back, is a huge chip is an exemplary realization of the Wildcats gradual reputational rise on the recruiting trail.
For Igwebuike, the decision to choose Northwestern over numerous other interested programs was – cliché and oft-cited and humdrum as it sounds – about “fit.” Fitzgerald’s vision of building not just football players but athletes with “real morals”, coupled with a campus that “just felt right,” was what did it for Igwebuike.
“Getting to meet him [Fitzgerald] was awesome,” he said. “He’s a great guy, a young coach with lots of energy. It felt like a great fit for me.”
Besides his brief flirtation with the stage, and his incessant late-night tweeting adventures, Igwebuike remained dedicated to getting stronger, faster (he’s a member of the track team) and fine-tuning his game around every margin in preparation for the 2013 season.
He is one of many 2013 commits that plan to report to campus early this summer, and Igwebuike believes he and the rest of his classmates can help sustain, even elevate, the positive momentum surrounding the program.
“It was awesome seeing the team be so successful,” he said. “It raises your pride in the team and makes you more excited to be a part of it.”
There are no specific recommendations for delving deeper into Igwebuike’s backround beyond, maybe, recruiting tapes or various general scouting reports. He won’t be suiting up for the Wildcats until this Fall at the earliest, with the ever-present potential for a redshirt season, but if you’re interested in passing the time, in learning more about Igwebuike away from the field, Twitter is the best place to start.
Failing that, a meeting with Pickerington North’s drama department is a solid bet. That’s assuming the transformation – from actor to football player, from the Ohio high school circuit to the Big Ten, from runningback/safety indecision to decided mono-position clarity – isn’t complete.