Laying in his bed at Arizona Western College, Chuks Amaechi got an early phone call.
It was 8 a.m., and Amaechi answered the phone to the boisterous voice of Georgia inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler. Upon hanging up, Amaechi sat at the edge of his bed contemplating whether that phone call was a dream or reality.
“Did Coach Ekeler from Georgia just call me right now,” he wondered.
Amaechi called his parents, and they didn’t believe him. He talked to his head coach, and he didn’t believe him. Finally, the three-star junior college prospect spoke with his defensive coordinator who had talked with Ekeler but wanted to keep it a surprise.
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Even before Georgia was on his radar, the Arizona native’s favorite linebacker was former Bulldogs star and current St. Louis Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree. He watched Ogletree’s highlight tape before games as motivation, and once he got the offer from Georgia, it was a no-brainer.
“When I got the offer from Georgia, I had to commit,” Amaechi said.
Amaechi, who has two years of eligibility remaining at Georgia, joins a position of need for the Bulldogs after they lost starting senior inside linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson.
Amaechi's already on campus after enrolling early at Georgia in January partly do to his stacked schedule at Arizona Western. Amaechi said that the college encourages players to take as many credits as possible in order to graduate and get on other college campuses for the second semester.
Amaechi took 25 credits in the fall while leading the Western States Football League with 18.5 tackles for loss and ranking fourth with seven sacks. He was satisfied with his play but would have liked to compete with his dad, who he said took 37 credits in one semester at BYU.
“I thought I could take 37, and I ended up getting 25 and I was like, ‘That’s too much for me,’ ” Amaechi said.
Arizona Western was just one of three colleges Amaechi attended before ending up at Georgia. After playing high school football in Arizona, Amaechi committed to North Dakota State but redshirted his first year.
After transferring to Phoenix College, Amaechi played one season for the Bears before moving to Arizona Western. It has been a long journey to Athens, but Amaechi is hopeful that his experience will benefit him in an open competition during spring and fall practices.
“(Coach Ekeler) told us that it’s all fair game,” Amaechi said. “Whoever wants it can have it. (Defensive coordinator Jeremy) Pruitt says you play if you earn it. He says as long as we’re giving it our all on the practice field, we’ll play.”
The offseason will be crucial for Amaechi, who must get his body acclimated to play in the SEC. He stands at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds and has a long frame, but his high school coach, Jeff Bowen, believes he must improve physically in order to get ready for SEC play.
“He’s very athletic, and his get-off is exceptional,” said Bowen who is now assistant head coach and running game coordinator at Arizona Christian. “Genetically he has long arms and is able to extend. He can really push the edge.”
Amaechi said he already is seeing gains from winter workouts and is ready for spring practice to begin. The dream of playing in the SEC is over, and he is eager for his first chance to show what he can bring to the Bulldogs.
“I’m just hungry to play in the SEC, that’s why I came here,” Amaechi said.