Former Bears helped recruit Okoye
August, 2, 2011
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
Bob Levey/Getty ImagesAmobi Okoye is hoping to capitalize on a fresh start with the Bears.BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- No need for lavish recruitment tactics, apparently, when players no longer on the team shower the organization with high prize.
At least that was the case for former Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who was lured to Chicago by an opportunity to work with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, not to mention long conversations with former Bears Adewale Ogunleye and Tommie Harris.
"There’s a lot of people I know here," Okoye said. "Tommie was a big mentor and friend of mine, and ‘Wale Ogunleye played here also, so I’ve met a good third of the team through them before. Being that Chicago also wanted me to come here, it only made sense to do it."
The youngest player ever to be drafted in the first round when the Texans used the 10th pick in 2007 to take the then-19 year old , Okoye started 58 games for the Texans over four seasons, posting 138 tackles and 11 sacks. Okoye contributed a career-high 44 tackles in 2010, in addition to three sacks.
But overall, the Texans’ defensive rankings sagged near the bottom of the league during the former nose tackle’s tenure, and the team released Okoye on Saturday, paving the way for his shot at redemption with the Bears. Okoye will compete for a spot in a defensive-line rotation inside that includes Anthony Adams, Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton and rookie Stephen Paea.
"Before I ever made the decision, I spoke with [Ogunleye], and he said I’d love it," Okoye said. "There was no discouraging talk. Even before, when I talked to them when I was a Texan, there was never anything discouraging ever said. It was always good things. ‘Wale was with us -- well, not ‘us,’ Houston -- and told me a lot about Chicago. All the things he said are very true."