Texas DE Charles Omenihu blossoming into solid pass rusher at just the right time

Posted October 3rd, 2017


Texas defensive lineman Charles Omenihu always befuddled the previous coaching staff. Here was a long, muscular, physical specimen by all outward appearances.

So why isn’t he making more plays?

Now a junior, Omenihu appears to be coming into his own at just the right time for the Longhorns defense. The 6-foot-7, 280-pounder has two of UT’s nine sacks this season and is starting to make regular appearances in the backfield.

Charles Omenihu-Texas Longhorns
Texas defensive lineman Charles Omenihu (90) celebrates his sack during the second half against Maryland on Saturday, September 2, 2017. Nick Wagner/American-Statesman

“He’s proved to us that he can be an elite pass rusher,” UT defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said. “We need to get him on the field more in situations where they are throwing the football.”

It’s been a long journey these last two years. Omenihu arrived from Rowlett as the 45th-best defensive end in Texas, according to 247Sports. He played in every game as a freshman but just had 17 tackles. Then, he started seven games last season and finished with 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss.

Over those two years, he grew and grew. This is the same player who arrived in Austin weighing just 230 pounds.

“I just told myself that I’m going to eat,” Omenihu said. “Eat, lift weights, do what the strength staff that we had previously told me and do what (strength coach Yancy) McKnight and the coaches have been telling me to do now.”

While Omenihu doesn’t have a ton of statistics this season, his impact can’t be truly measured by the stat sheet alone.

Safety DeShon Elliott has four interceptions in the last two games. Two of those were poorly thrown balls that sailed right into his bread basket. For those efforts, Elliott was named the Big 12’s defensive player of the week for two consecutive weeks, a first at Texas.

All of those picks were fueled in part by defensive pressure coming from Omenihu, Malcolm Roach, Poona Ford and whoever else Orlando sends into the fray.

Omenihu had three tackles and a sack against USC as the Longhorns held the Trojans to 1.9 rushing yards per attempt. Iowa State didn’t fare much better. The Cyclones rushed only 15 times and finished with 0.7 yards per attempt.

Omenihu said the Longhorns have confidence in the offense, “but it’s all about us holding our part and doing what we need to do to really help out the offense by any means necessary. So we just go out there, do our job, do our assignments and see what happens.”

Briefly: Texas quarterback Shane Buechele practiced on Tuesday and was not limited by the ankle injury suffered against Iowa State, according to a team spokesman. Buechele, who was not made available to reporters, is expected to play against Kansas State despite the injury.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email

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