Football Preview: Defensive End Brandon Akpunku
In our continuous coverage of the North Texas two-deep roster we flip back over to the defensive side of the ball and take a look at sophomore defensive end Brandon Akpunku.
Signed: 2008 from Cedar Hill High School
2008 Key Stat: 9…Akpunku saw limited duties, mainly on special teams, and get on the field in nine games. He came up with five tackles.
Why he will start: After making the move to defensive end in the spring, Akpunku goes into the fall as No. 1 on the depth chart. His athletic ability alone forced the coaches hand to find a place for him on the field and they might have found it. He’s speed rush from the edge and ability to get into the backfield will make you salivate. There isn’t a lot of competition on his side at the moment so its his job to lose in the fall.
Why he won’t start: Size. 6-1 isn’t the problem, it’s the 206 (maybe 215) pounds. At that size, Akpunku will have a difficult time getting any leverage against a big offensive tackle at this level. The other real concern is whether Akpunku can pick up a new position in less than a year. He’s got “hybrid” written all over him when it comes to a pass rusher, but he’s got to be able to do more than that because teams will circle his side of the line when it comes to the run.
He said it: “He’s just a pure athlete, plain and simple. He’s got unbelievable athleticism but he’s got a lot to learn and he’s got to do it fast. He can ad lib sometimes because of his speed, but he’s got to learn to play the position.” -- D-Line coach Mike Nelson.
Did you know: He’s only a sophomore but Akpunku isn’t afraid to talk or lead by example. When times were tough last year, I mean real tough, Akpunku took it upon himself to lead the entire team in prayer at the end of every practice single practice. Pretty mature move for just a then freshman.
Overall: The upside to Akpunku is unlimited. Possibly one of the best pure athletes at North Texas in over a decade, he could develop into a real playmaker. Every coach turns down right giddy when talking about his potential. The only thing is great athletes don’t always make for great football players. Akpunku’s first mission is to become the best defensive end on the team and then go from there. He’s the mystery man on the Mean Green defense this year but could end up being the difference maker in a new and improved defensive line.