It was one of those mistakes that Isaac Ukwu plays over and over again in his head, thinking about what he could have and should have done differently. It happened during Springbrook’s 47-40 triple-overtime loss to Clarksburg in Week 10, his final game in a Blue Devils uniform. Ukwu, a Wise transfer, lined up at defensive end and rushed toward the inside with his sights set on the quarterback, and that left a lane open for the Coyotes running back to break to the outside and run in for a touchdown.
A 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end, Ukwu said he’s been trying to cut down on those mistakes by working on the mental aspects of his game — reading the quarterbacks, knowing when and where to rush — as he gets ready for his senior season. He improved in a breakout junior season, leading to 19 college offers, but wants to take his game to the next level with the defending Maryland 4A state champion Pumas.
“I used to want to rush the passer every play,” Ukwu said. “If you rush the field every play the running back will just go out and beat you.”
Ukwu, who moved to Upper Marlboro and transferred to Wise midway through his junior year, registered 16 sacks, 50 tackles and 14 tackles for loss last fall. All of his offers came after his junior season. Robert Morris was the first, followed by Coastal Carolina and Navy. Then the Ivy League schools joined in — Cornell, Columbia, Yale, Penn and Dartmouth — and on Tuesday he added James Madison to the list.
“It’s kind of like a chain reaction,” said Ukwu, who has been posting his offers from his Twitter account, @isacktheQB. “Once one school offers all the other schools start to see.”
Ukwu flew under the radar at Springbrook, playing junior varsity as a freshman and moving up to varsity as a sophomore before emerging as a dominant pass rusher last season. Described as “long, athletic and relentless” by Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish, Ukwu possesses the speed to chase down running backs and quarterbacks and power to break through offensive lines.
With double-digit offers and the change of scenery — from a mid-tier Montgomery County team to a powerhouse Prince George’s County contender — eyes will be on Ukwu in the fall. He joins a dominant defense that posted five shutouts and allowed 77 points in 14 games as the undefeated Pumas finished the season third in The Post’s rankings.
“I haven’t reached my full potential football-wise and I feel like after this season I can really showcase more of my talents and how good I can actually be,” Ukwu said. “I just had a breakout year last year, and I need to show that I can consistently do that.”
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