CLEVELAND — Shortly after the NFL's "legal tampering" period began on Monday, the Cleveland Browns bolstered their pass rush by agreeing to terms with defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on a three-year, $19 million ($12 million guaranteed) contract.
Here are three things to know about Okoronkwo, who spent last season with the Houston Texans.
While Okoronkwo's parents didn't dream of him playing football -- more on that later -- it might have always been in the cards. According to a 2016 profile in The Oklahoman, Okoronwo weighed more than 12 pounds when he was born, making him the largest baby ever born at the North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida.
Okonronkwo's parents, Benson and Augusta, were both Nigerian immigrants who envisioned their son pursuing a law or medical degree. But at the urging of Alief Taylor High School head coach Brian Randle, he joined the football team -- a secret he hid from his parents until his senior season.
While Okoronkwo's parents were initially hesitant, their stance soon changed after witnessing his dominance on the high school field.
“I told him, ‘God has given you a gift,'” his father, Benson told The Oklahoman. “'I didn't know you were this good. You have to use it to better mankind. You have to be humble. You have to remember your purpose and always know that you are your family's ambassador wherever you are.'”
While Okoronkwo, himself, grew up dreaming of being a professional skateboarder, the three-star prospect opted to spend his college career at Oklahoma, choosing the Sooners over offers from Missouri, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Texas Tech.
Arriving in Norman weighing 195 pounds, Okoronkwo redshirted in 2013 and appeared in just nine total games in his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2016, however, he enjoyed a breakout season tallying nine sacks, before returning to school for his senior season in which he was named the co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and earned first-team All-American honors.
Selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Okoronkwo's professional career would follow a similar trajectory. After missing the entirety of his rookie season with a foot injury, the Oklahoma product played sparingly in 2019 and 2020, with his primary contributions coming on special teams.
In 2021, Okoronkwo -- now weighing 253 pounds -- saw an uptick in playing time, tallying two sacks, six QB hits and eight pressures during the Rams' Super Bowl-winning season. The following offseason, he signed a one-year deal with his hometown Houston Texans, with whom he enjoyed a breakout season, recording five sacks, 11 QB hits and 17 pressures, while ranking as Pro Football Focus' sixth-best pass-rusher after joining the Texans' starting lineup in Week 7.
What's in a name?
As you may have noticed, Okoronkwo's name -- pronounced "o-BO-ny-uh o-kor-RON-kwo" -- is a mouthful, not that the 27-year-old seems to mind.
"Honestly, I love my name," he told the Rams' official website in 2020. "First of all, its meaning is, favored from God, can't beat it."
He also added: "My whole life I've never just been stumped in a conversation because my name is such a conversation starter. Like I introduce myself, "Hey, I'm Obo Okoronkwo, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo." People are like, "What?" So I really like my name in that aspect because it always just made me interesting, a lot of people have a lot to ask about it and I have a lot to tell about it. But you can call me Obeezy."