Beyond the game: Justin Iwuji

By: 

Sports Reporter

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A brotherly legacy has brought three boys into the world of college football, and a competitive bond has made them better as players and closer as a family.

Senior safety Justin Iwuji was an All-State quarterback in high school. As a quarterback at Hebron High School in Carrollton, he rushed for a “ridiculous amount of yards,” according to his older brother, Jesse Iwuji, against known football powerhouse Carroll Senior High School. He led the team to a win.

Justin Iwuji was named the District 6-5A Most Valuable Player as a quarterback and was an All-District Second-Team selection in basketball. The Texas High School Coaches Association selected Justin Iwuji as an honorable mention for the Academic All-State team. He originally was recruited as a quarterback for the Naval Academy Preparatory School, where Jesse Iwuji started, but left and came to Texas State.

 “I just started loving the game growing up,” Justin Iwuji said. “Watching my oldest brother play, he was the first to play, and I just fell in love with football.”

Jesse Iwuji played college football as a safety at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. He was known for having speed, having run a 4.47 40-yard dash. He played in 14 games over the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He saw his only action in 2008 during the Army-Navy game due to an injury.

Jesse’s younger brother and Justin’s older brother, Bryan Iwuji, played at Texas State as a linebacker. He sat out in 2007 as a redshirt but appeared in 32 games over the next three seasons. Bryan Iwuji ended the 2010 season listed among the team’s top five leaders in tackles with 52. He finished his college career with 136 total tackles.

“Each one of us secretly, deep down inside, want to do better than each other,” Jesse Iwuji said. “Honestly, though, I think we all look up to each other. Even though he was my younger brother, I still looked up to (Justin,) just as I did with Bryan, too, and they looked up to me. We all looked up to each other, and we all wanted to match each other with our skills and abilities.”

The boys’ parents, Sebastian and Enderline Iwuji, were born in Nigeria but came to America in the 80s. Enderline Iwuji was a champion track runner in Nigeria.  Their three boys and daughter, Emenderlyn Iwuji—a sophomore who runs track at Arkansas State—were born in America, but are also citizens of Nigeria.

Although Jesse and Justin are most alike, they are all very close. Justin and Bryan got the opportunity to play together at Texas State, an opportunity they were very proud to claim as theirs.

“It’s a crazy experience,” Justin Iwuji said. “Not many people get to play college football, or any sport for that matter, with their sibling. It was good having him there, having a familiar face around. He just pushed me, and I pushed him, and it worked out great.”

At Texas State, Justin Iwuji has played in 39 games since the 2010 season and has recorded 102 tackles. He played as a reserve cornerback and on special teams in the 2010 season. Justin Iwuji has had three interceptions during the 2013 season, one resulting in a touchdown against Southern Alabama.

The brothers grew up doing “normal guy things,” as Justin Iwuji said, playing video games and spending most of their time playing neighborhood football. Jesse Iwuji gives credit to his siblings for pushing him to be his best. The siblings’ competitive natures have pushed them to reach their full potential.