Georgia football, TCU gush about Chidera Uzo-Diribe: ‘He’s going to be a real star’
For Uzo-Diribe, he spent much of the week shuttling between Athens and Atlanta, in an effort to be there for both his family and his players as Georgia readied to take on Ohio State.
“It’s been hectic. It was one of the best weeks of my life,” Uzo-Diribe. “To have those two baby girls and get to spend time with them has given me a whole new perspective that you can’t put into words. The game last Saturday, it capped off what a great week it was for the rest of my family.”
It hasn’t been the easiest first season for Uzo-Diribe, as the Georgia outside linebackers group has been ravaged by injuries this season. Nolan Smith tore his pectoral muscle against Florida, while Robert Beal, Chaz Chambliss and Marvin Jones have all battled injuries at different times this season.
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To make things even tougher for Uzo-Diribe, he’ll be matching wits against the coach that greatly helped his ascent in the coaching industry, Sonny Dykes.
Uzo-Diribe spent the 2021 season with Dykes at SMU and was set to follow him to TCU. Uzo-Diribe gave huge credit to Dykes on Saturday, especially for taking a chance on him as a coach with no previous experience in working with the now-TCU head coach. Uzo-Diribie played for and worked with then-SMU defensive coordinator Jim Levitt, who strongly recommended that Dykes hire Uzo-Diribe at SMU.
Just after a month on the job as TCU’s defensive line coach, Kirby Smart came calling. Uzo-Dirbie couldn’t say no to working for one of the coaching greats in college football.
“I knew coming here being able to learn under coach Smart, coach Muschamp, coach Scott, coach Schumann was going to be huge for my development,” Uzo-Diribe said. “You can’t put a value on some of the information I’ve been able to learn pick up this year. So far it’s been great and continuing to hear these guys talk and hear their thoughts, it’s only going to help and benefit me this year.”
Despite Uzo-Diribie’s youth, Dykes raved about Uzo-Diribe and what he brings to the game. Dykes figured that out pretty quickly in their time together.
“He was destined to be really good. He’s got a great disposition when it comes to coaching and communicating with players,” Dykes said. “Really, really effective communicator. Does a really good job of walking the fine line between having great relationships with players, but at the same time having that authoritative part of that relationship that’s important.”
Uzo-Diribie is far from the only former college football on Georgia’s staff, as Smart, Bryan McClendon and Will Muschamp all played at Georgia. But none have done so as recently as Uzo-Diribie, who played at the University of Colorado from 2010 through 2013.
Chambliss called him a players coach, while Beal praised the energy Uzo-Diribe brings to practice.
He proved to be a hellacious recruiter for the Bulldogs as well, landing three top-100 overall prospects in the 2023 recruiting cycle in an effort to re-stock his outside linebacker room. With Smith and Beal off to the NFL after the season, Uzo-Diribe will have a chance to really put his stamp on the room going forward.
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He’s able to connect with young people, something his fellow coaches see he has a real passion for.
“So many guys get in this profession for the wrong reasons now, and I get it, there’s a lot of money,” TCU offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said, who worked with Uzo-Diribe at SMU. “But him, you just watch him coach, he loves it. He has a passion for it. A lot of us coach because we feel we can play, but obviously physically we can’t play anymore. You see that for him, and he works his tail off. That’s a huge attribute.”
Uzo-Diribe has been burning the candles at both ends as Georgia’s season comes to a close. He’s face-timing his family back in Athens as often as he can while leading his outside linebackers into battle against TCU and its potent offense. It’s a good thing he has so much energy, as a lesser individual would be haggard by this point.
He does have some familiarity with facing TCU star quarterback Max Duggan. The national championship game marks the fourth time Uzo-Dirbie has coached against him, as he did so at SMU in 2021 and as the outside linebackers coach at Kansas in 2020 and 2019.
Monday’s game will also be a homecoming for Uzo-Diribe, as he grew up in nearby Corona, Calif. He didn’t know how many tickets he had for his family, but he knows he hit the limit for his allotment.
When Uzo-Diribe returns to his family in Athens, after a whirlwind first season in Athens, he’ll do so hoping to show his wife and baby girls a national championship. He’s shown most of his fellow coaches that he’s just getting started in what should be a very successful coaching career.
“I expect him to be a coordinator, head coach pretty quickly,” Dykes said. “I think he’s on a really rapid rise. And I think a lot of him and got a great family. And he’s going to be a real star in our profession.”
Chidera Uzo-Diribe discusses ‘hectic’ first season at Georgia
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