I recently had the opportunity to speak with Denver Broncos starting Safety, Duke Ihenacho. We discussed everything from football life prior to the NFL, his upbringing in Southern California, and what it’s like practicing against Peyton Manning. Be sure to give this interview a read; it’s one you don’t want to miss.
What’s going on Duke?
Nothing much man, just relaxing right now.
I’m a Buffalo Bills fan. I found out about you like a year ago through Robert Woods’ Instagram. You went to the same High school as Robert?
I’m sorry to hear that [laughs]. But yea we did. Woody (Robert Woods) was a freshman when I was a senior at Serra.
How was it growing up in Carson?
It was okay. I liked it. It had its fair share of kids who thought they were gang members, but other than that it was a pretty decent city to grow up in.
Okay. I read you didn’t play football until your Junior year in High school. How did you adapt to the game so fast?
I was just a quick learner. My first year in High school was just me being a decent athlete. Coaches did their best to teach me the fundamentals. After that season, I knew I could play ball. So I developed a lot of confidence, from there on I just started coming into my own. Confidence is the biggest reason.
Speaking of confidence, how was adapting from your days at San Jose St to the NFL? What was the biggest difference?
Well the most obvious difference is the caliber of athletes in the NFL. In college every team you play may have 1 or 2 guys that you think can play in the league. When you get to this level every player is one of those guys. As far as adapting, it wasn’t too difficult. I just had to get used to all the hours I had to devote to football. Film, weights, treatment, practice, etc,. Not having school anymore, in addition to being paid now, means all those things were extended.
You went undrafted. Often you hear about undrafted athletes being motivated by not being drafted. Is that your #1 motivating factor that you used to become a starting safety for the Broncos?
Yeah, I think not getting drafted lit a fire under my ass. As it does for most guys not drafted I would assume. Some guys just think they’re not good enough though and panic. I just figured nobody wanted to take a chance on me in the draft because I missed a lot of tackles my senior year. I always was confident in being able to play in this league. It’s all about steps, progression. So at first it was just making the team, then getting on the field. Then when the opportunity arose to fight for the starting Safety spot, I went full throttle.
Cool man. We’re a men’s lifestyle blog that often features fashion. I follow your Instagram. You’re one of the guys in the league that are big on fashion. What or who inspired your sense of fashion?
I can’t really think of a particular individual that inspires my fashion. I’ve just always had a pretty good sense of what looked good on me my whole life. A lot of times, I can’t find anything to wear and have nothing to wear but old stuff that I’ve worn before. So I start trying to mix and match outfits to make a new outfit, then the next thing I get an idea for the next time I wanna go buy some clothes. And I think being physically fit takes care of a lot of things, because you can just be simple with what you wear and It’ll look good.
How has practicing against a legend like your QB Peyton Manning, helped your game?
Yeah it has, he’s special. And he challenges you to be on your A-game everyday or he’ll embarrass you.
Other than the game, how was the whole Super Bowl experience?
It was fun, I enjoyed it. There aren’t many things I’ve experienced in my life that amount to that. I would love to do it again, and win of course.
What do you do outside of football, any hobbies?
I just started yoga actually. I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but it’s definitely helping with my flexibility. I like going to the movies a lot as well.
Nice! So where can our readers keep up with you at?
I don’t have a blog or website up yet, but it’s coming soon. So I guess for now, just twitter and Instagram @nacholyfe (I gave up twitter for lent so its deactivated right now, but it’ll be back active in like two weeks).
Cool. What are your goals for this upcoming season?
I need some interceptions [Laughs]. But my goal is to make the Pro Bowl.
Good luck to you and the Broncos this upcoming season. On behalf of The Bachelor Project, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you Duke. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thank you and thanks for having me. I appreciate everybody for taking the time to read this interview.
Courtesy of Duke Ihenacho and Dominico Maxwell