NFL DraftProspect Interviews

NFL Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Derek Ibekwe, LB, New Mexico State University

Derek Ibekwe is one of the hardest hitting linebacker in the entire NFL Draft. He is a monster in the Sun Belt.

What is your name? 

Derek Ibekwe

What is your Height/Weight? 

6’0 236

What is your position? 

Inside Linebacker/ Outside Linebacker 

Where do you play college football?

New Mexico State University 

Football is about giving back, what is the coolest thing you have done off the field?  

Throughout the course of the semester, our football team visited an elementary school and spoke to the children about college football. I remember growing up as a kid and always wanting to be a college football player. Just seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when we came in put a warm feeling in my heart.

What was the hardest college class you ever had to take? 

Accounting 302. Which is the second level intermediate accounting course. I struggled with this class and it really took everything out of me to make sure I did well. Taking this class during the football season didn’t help the situation at all but I made it through.

Where are you from? 

Born and raised in Houston, Texas. Originally from the southwest Aleif (Houston, TX) area but moved to Sugarland, TX during 6thgrade into a better environment.

Who is your role model, and why? 

Easily my mother, she has sacrificed so much for me and my family. She’s giving, caring, and nurturing. I know that sounds like the typical mom answer, but she really gives everything for us to have a better life. She migrated to the United States 30 years ago from Nigeria (West Africa) and started from nothing.  She realized her current job wasn’t going to be able to sustain 4 children and a husband. 

So made the decision to go back to school and as a result was able to graduate master’s degree and now works as a nurse practioner. There were many nights growing up she would cry herself to sleep in silence and would wake up the next day with an abundance of energy.  Always ready to provide and give us the best life.  

She raised me into a man and has taught me so many valuable lessons throughout my life. I could never disrespect a woman because of the amount of respect I have for her. Anytime things get out of hand I always remember the sacrifices she has made in order to get me to this very moment and it motivates me to do better for myself and her.

Did you play any other sports growing up? 

Yes, I played basketball and ran track all up until high school.

Did you play any other positions in football? 

Yes, running back in high school and defensive end in college

At your position, what separates you from others? 

Honestly my effort to the ball. I didn’t make it to college because I was just talented. I made it to division 1 Fbs program because of my motor and heart. You can find someone skillfully better than me, but you will not find someone who gets to the ball faster.

When you are breaking down film, what do you look for? 

Tendencies- I watch cadences, foot placement of offensive lineman, spacing between running back and the quarterback, down and distance, formation, scouting report.

Who was the toughest player you ever faced?  

RB Leonard Fournette (LSU, Jacksonville Jaguars) my freshman season 

If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be and why?  

LB Bobby Wagner (Seattle Seahawks) because of his speed and his effort to the ball. Wagner is one of the most agile linebackers in the game and has a complete package. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and you can always count on him to show up on game day.

What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?  

Biggest obstacle in my life was majoring in accounting and trying to continue football. I always wanted to do something that will get me a job if football wasn’t in my future. So, I had to apply myself each day and stay on top of classes, show up to study sessions, continue my internship, and finish homework.

Do you have any pre-game rituals? 

I pray with my sister, I talk to my brother on the phone for some motivation, and I listen to music. 

What is your biggest strength?

Biggest strength as a person is to see positive even when the world is throwing negative at you.

What is your biggest weakness? 

My biggest weakness is that I have an addiction to wanting more for myself. I always want to put forth my best work even if it takes an abundance of time! Very hard on myself. I also like to compete in everything. I love to win and sometimes that can be a turn off to others.

If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?

I’m a follower of Christ and that is my priority.  I’m genuine guy that loves playing football. My parents have done an amazing job raising me to be very respectful and accountable. I love to compete to the highest level. I could care less about the fame that comes with the NFL, I play strictly to give the people I love most a better life and to prove the people who doubted me wrong.  You don’t have to worry about me having trouble off the field. I take pride in doing what is right and I’d never jeopardize any moment that I have worked my entire life for.

Who was your favorite player and/or NFL team growing up?

I’m a huge LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) fan wherever he goes I will follow.

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would you choose? 

Warren Buffet, Lebron James, Drake 

What will be the first big item you buy once you are in the NFL?

Honestly, I am probably the cheapest guy you will ever meet so nothing for myself. I would want to buy my mother something nice, maybe pay off all her debt. That would be very big her because she put herself in a lot of debt raising me and my siblings.

Damond Talbot

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at

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