A visit with transfer DE Isaac Ukwu on his choice to become a Rebel: ‘You know what you’re going to get with me, day in and day out…’
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss picked up an important defensive transfer last week, with James Madison defensive end Isaac Ukwu committing to the Rebels. We recently had a the pleasure of visiting with Ukwu about his pledge.
The 6-foot-3 , 260-pound Upper Marlboro, Maryland native hit the portal shortly before the Dukes wrapped up their spring workouts — and it didn’t take long for him to get calls from a ton of Power 5 programs, including Ole Miss.
Ukwu was a central force for the Dukes’ defensive line and you can bet that will not change when he arrives in Oxford. This past season, he started 11 games and logged 87 total tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. In 2022, he earned All Sun-Belt and Honorable Mention on the CFN 365 All-American team.
We asked Ukwu to share what made him know Ole Miss is the place for him.
“Honestly, it was talking to Coach Golding and hearing how I’d be utilized in the defense. He laid it all out for me, and hearing him talk about the defense made me want to play for him.”
Isaac Ukwu on how he knew Ole Miss was the place for him
Ukwu specifically noted the way the Rebels’ coaches recruited him during the process.
“I’d say the thing that stood out the most was the football aspect. (Defensive line) Coach (Randall) Joyner and (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Pete) Golding told me exactly the plan they had for me and what I’d be getting myself into. I didn’t need any fluff or over-the-top recruiting. This process was about football, at the end of the day, and where I could see myself excel on the field.”
Isaac Ukwu on his recruitment
On Ukwu’s journey to the ‘Sip, he has faced plenty of tests on and off the field. But even with so many uncertainties in the game today, one thing is for sure: Ukwu has the resilience and maturity that definitely will make him a force when he takes the football field.
In this day of recruiting with the transfer portal and the impacts of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), oftentimes the material aspects of recruitment can take the forefront— but for many athletes, like Ukwu, their mind still remains on their love of the game and finding a place where they can showcase their talents and contribute to their new teams.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin and staff continue to dominate in the portal and are currently ranked as having the No. 6 transfer class in the nation, according to 247Sports. The Rebels are finding elite players that not only fill voids needed in specific positions but who bring other traits with them such as experience, maturity and leadership.
In Ukwu, Ole Miss has found all that and more.
“I think I will bring leadership and reliability. You know what you’re going to get with me, day in and day out. I also believe my ability to make plays on all three downs will be a big asset for the defense and how I can affect a game.”
Isaac Ukwu on what he brings to the Rebels
Now, Ukwu will look to finish out his collegiate career in the SEC trenches as a Rebel. He will undoubtedly be an instant-impact player on the field, but it is clear his wisdom and leadership will be a driving force in key moments this fall.
Lee Ann is the Director of Recruiting for The Rebel Walk. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist and NFL content writer. She is also the Sr. Editor for MESPORTS digital. Herring-Olvedo is a Brown University graduate who loves good cigars, good games, and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.