Agwuenu looks to defy adversity once again

Agwuenu looks to defy adversity once again

Alonzo Agwuenu grew up a Sun Devil fan, and as a newcomer to the 2012 ASU squad he couldn't be happier. Yet, arriving at his desired destination was anything but an enjoyable journey. The wide receiver has learned to hamdle the proverbial curveballs thrown at him, and now he eagerly anticipates hauling in passes for the Sun Devils in the fall.

Alonzo Agwuenu prepped at Chino Hills (Calif.) High School, and after being named to the All-Sierra league in his junior he was attracting the attention of several colleges. However, his academics kept him sidelined for his senior year and consequently forced him to take the junior college route as he enrolled at one of the national powerhouses programs: Mt. San Antonio Junior College in Walnut, Calif.

The wide receiver's recruitment by the Sun Devils, started by former ASU's assistant coach Jamie Christian. Agwuenu said that the fact that the former Sun Devil staff had recruited other players from that junior college and knew the Mounties' coaches very well, did create a strong sense of comfort with Agwuenu.

"They play in the Pac-12 which is a great conference and Arizona State was having a great year for the first half of the season," Agwuenu commented. "I knew players on the team, like Steve Gallon, Alden Darby and A.J. Pickens. I always liked the football program, the facilities…so it was one of those things that I always wanted to go there before they even contacted me."

The arrival of new ASU Head Coach Todd Graham and his assistants to Tempe ultimately didn't hinder ASU's chances of landing Agwuenu, as the wide receiver grew very comfortable with the new regime in Tempe. "They watched my film and they said that they liked me and still wanted me to be a Sun Devil," Agwuenu recalled. "I already liked the program, but it still was a transition for me to the new coaching staff because you had to build a whole new relationship. I was thinking about visiting Kentucky and (offensive coordinator) Coach Norvell called me up and then I ended up not visiting there (Kentucky).

"The new coaches were really easy to get along with and said all the right things. I believed in what they were saying and they said things that I needed to hear. They stayed true to their word so I know I can trust them. At the end of the day we built a very good relationship pretty quick."

The rapidness of that relationship building was indeed crucial, because time was certainly of the essence. Agwuenu was scheduled to graduate his junior college in December and enroll at ASU in the spring semester. Thus, it was imperative that the wide receiver sign his Letter of Intent with the Sun Devils as early as possible in the mid-year signing period and before the recruiting dead period would take place.

Agwuenu did sign that letter, was enrolled at ASU and was all set to begin his spring semester studies the first week of January. However, the 2012 calendar year didn't begin on the right foot for the wide receiver as he learned that he had to re-take one of his junior college courses, preventing him for earning his AA degree as well as beginning his studies at ASU.

More importantly for both Agwuenu and the Sun Devils, the wide receiver was now back on the recruiting market since he had to sign with the school once again on February 1st.

"Schools like Oklahoma and Oregon were contacting me," Agwuenu said. "They all wanted me to visit them. I called Coach Norvell and his assured me that I will be a Sun Devil and that was good to hear because that is where my heart was. Arizona State was the only school I visited. That's where I was originally going to go anyway, and ASU stuck with me even though I didn't qualify in the spring, so I wasn't going to change my mind on them."

Ironically, only two weeks after Agwuenu signed his second Letter of Intent with ASU, he did achieve the required grade in the class he had to re-take, and he attained his AA degree. Unfortunately, he still wasn't able to join his teammates as they prepared for spring practice.

"It was frustrating to me because I was in Tempe in the first week of January waiting for my transcripts (showing he completed his AA degree) to come in," Agwuenu described, "I'm starting to meet my new teammates and new coaches and then I find out that I have to go home because I can't enroll in classes.

"I was disappointed that I couldn't start at ASU as early as I wanted to, but I just had to go with the flow. It was my fault and I couldn't do anything but re-take that class and make sure I qualify. It was a tough pill to swallow but I got over it."

The wide receiver added that after obtaining his AA degree he wasn't able to take a full class load at ASU and join the team in time for spring practice. Thus, he will now enroll in the school's first summer session and effectively be part of the team at that point.

While the wide receiver couldn't participate in any team activities, he was able to get in shape through one on one sessions with Sun Devil Strength and Conditioning Coach Shawn Griswold. Agwuenu was also a frequent visitor at ASU's spring practices. He familiarized himself with the offensive scheme by watching film and learning the playbook.

"Being at spring practice and knowing the playbook like I do now will really help me once (fall) practices start," Agwuenu claimed. "At first it was like helter skelter out there, but later in spring practice I understood the plays and what they were trying to do. I now understand how they draw it on the board and how they run it on the field. I'm feeling like mentally I can keep up with everything."

Agwuenu felt that the learning curve that he was going through on the sidelines, was no different than the learning curve that his teammates were experiencing on the field. Much like his own experience, the wide receiver felt that as time went by the acclimation process became easier.

"I didn't see them making any mental mistakes when they were going full speed," Agwuenu said. "They were out there taking care of business. If you ask me, I think they did great and they can surprise a lot or people this year. There are a lot of guys out there that can be big time playmakers.

"Jamal Miles is a beast. He had a great spring and he's someone I know that will be very good. Kevon Ozier and J.J. Holliday are good players…really everybody out there looked good."

The 6-4 210-pound Agwuenu, who is a two for two player in terms of eligibility, collected 73 catches and 1,025 yards as a sophomore and scored and 19 touchdowns as Mount San Antonio made it all the way to the California Community College Athletic Association title game. The Mounties finished 11-2 on the year and were the Southern California junior college champion.

"The coaches like my size because I'm going to be the biggest wide receiver out there," Agwuenu stated, "and mentally I'm strong too. Being 21 I'm just as old as a lot of them are. Coaches said that if I can take care of business I have a great chance to see the field, maybe even start.

"I've been working out hard. I think that when I get timed in the 40 (yard dash) I'll run a low 4.4 (seconds). I'm getting a lot stronger than I used to be and also more flexible which is also very important. I never did things like power clean and front squats at the junior college so I'm really noticing how much stronger I am becoming now. I really feel that this can help my game, being more explosive and coming off the ball better."

Agwuenu will return to Tempe next week and together with the team will starts its summer strength and conditioning program on May 14th, and he will begin his first summer session studies on May 21st. The long awaited journey of becoming a Sun Devil will soon come to an end, and the wide receiver would love nothing more that to begin his tenure at ASU in resounding fashion.

"I want to be a starter," Agwuenu said. "I want to lead the Pac-12 in receptions, yards and touchdowns. I want to do it all and have a huge impact right away."



Recruit Profile

Name

Alonzo Agwuenu

Junior College

Mt. San Antonio Junior College

Position

Wide receiver

Height

6-4

Weight

210

Date of Birth

7/4/90

Birthplace

Hollywood, Calif.

Nickname

"Zo"

Favorite TV Show

Family Guy

Favorite Movie

Friday

Favorite Singer

Lil' Wayne

Favorite Food

Chicken Alfredo

Favorite Drink

Sprite

Favorite Athlete

Kobe Bryant and Terrell Owens

Favorite Pro Team

Los Angeles Lakers

Person you most admire

"My older brother, Kenny. He always keeps me on top of my game. He has helped me mentally with all the things I had to deal with like going to junior college out of high school. He went through the same stuff I went in college football and recruiting and he would have played in the NFL if it wasn't for an injury. He always keeps my mind right and shows me a lot of love."

First Football Memory

"First time I played football was Pop Warner in the 7th grade. The first time I touched the ball was on a punt return and I scored a touchdown on it. I was just running around happy after that and it was cool to have my parents there watching me."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I write poetry."

Why did you choose ASU?

"There are so many reasons, it's hard to pick the number one reason. I guess I have to say that I was always a Sun Devil fan and I always had Sun Devil pride. So I felt that this was always the place for me and just everything about it feels right."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"If I'm not playing the NFL, I still want to be involved in the game. I'm going to major in communications, and I would like to be a football analyst or a journalist covering football."

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