Draft Scout Snapshot:DS Rating on 9/1/09: #19 OLB, #205/750 Overall, Projected Rd: 6-7 2008: 12 GP; 9 GS; 47 Sol-64 TT, 18.5 TFL, 7 SK, 3 PBU, 7 QBH, 3 FF; Second-team All-WAC player…was the national leader in quarterback sacks and tackles for loss during the first half of the 2008 season… along with his brother, safety Duke Ihenacho, are the only known brother combination to be NCAA statistical leaders in the same season …finished eighth among FBS players in tackles for loss (18.5), 49th in quarterback sacks (7.0) and 29th in forced fumbles. 2007: 12 GP; 8 GS; 14 Sol-30 TT, 6 TFL, 5 SK, 1 PBU, 1 QBH; Credited with a team-high 5.0 quarterback sacks and tied for fifth in the WAC for solo sacks...10th in overall sacks in the conference. 2006: 11 GP; 3 GS; 11 Sol-28 TT, 3 TFL, 1 SK, 1 PBU, 1 FF; Displayed versatility by playing inside and outside in the defensive scheme. Personal: Younger brother, Duke Ihenacho, plays for the Spartans.
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Carl Ihenacho was able to use his speed off the edge to enjoy a breakout season. After posting relatively modest numbers (an average of 29 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks) over his first two seasons, Ihenacho exploded for 64 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
With Gilbert out of the picture in 2009, Ihenacho's numbers slipped back down to 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks.
Ihenacho doesn't have the size to remain at defensive end in the pros, but he's a better athlete than some have given him credit for and a savvy defender. He's clearly at his best rushing the passer, but with enough tools to work with, don't be surprised to see a team operating out of the 3-4 alignment take a gamble on Ihenacho's upside.
Read & React: Has better instincts than expected for a pass rusher who is relatively new to the game. Rushes upfield from his defensive end position, but is quick to sniff out the screen or draw and re-direct. Good effort. Is surprisingly savvy in the angles he takes in pursuit.
Run defense: Lacks the sand in his pants to hold up as a defensive end in the NFL. Flashes good strength and hand placement to stack and shed against tight ends, but can be engulfed in the running game and driven off the ball. Has long arms and good use of hands to break free from blocks when he has a running start; one of the reasons why scouts are optimistic he can handle the transition to linebacker. Takes good angles in pursuit and doesn't give up on the play.
Pass defense: Almost exclusively asked to rush the passer in his college scheme, but was occasionally asked to drop into coverage. Has a high, choppy backpedal and is a bit stiff in the hips, but generates good burst in his first few steps when changing direction and has legitimate acceleration to close on the ball. Possesses a second gear to close on the ballcarrier or the ball. Has the savvy to get his hands up in the passing lanes when he can't get to the quarterback, but with zero career interceptions, will have to prove his ball skills to scouts in workouts.
Tackling: It isn't always pretty, but gets the job done. A bit stiff in the hips to break down in space to make the open-field tackle, but is surprisingly effective in doing so due to his long arms and a good late burst to close. Has the strength for the pull-down tackle when still engaged with the blocker. Is still a work in progress in terms of wrapping up the ballcarrier, but doesn't have many tackles broken.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Clearly his best asset. Flashes an explosive burst off the snap out of the three-point stance, as well as when standing up. Has the speed to simply blow past the offensive tackle. Has the feet and balance to quickly re-direct inside and has a spin move to compliment. Has a legitimate second gear to close on the quarterback. Surprises passers with his second gear; one of the reasons why he's forced five fumbles over the past two seasons.
Intangibles: A relative neophyte to the football field, Ihenacho began playing the game in 2005. His younger brother, Duke, is a safety for the Spartans and has earned first-team all-WAC accolades after each of the past two seasons.
Fourth season with the Spartans... Returning starter as a defensive end... One of the Western Athletic Conference’s top returning pass rushers... 2007 Academic All-WAC...2007 and 2008 San Jose State University Scholar-Athlete... Just his fifth year of organized football ...Versatile pass rusher with 23 career starts and is tied for fifth on the San Jose State career list with 27.5 tackles for loss…Heading into 2009, Spartans are 8-2 in games in which he was credited with a quarterback sack ....Named to the 2009 Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America checklist.
Ihenacho was selected Second Team All-Western Athletic Conference in 2009 as voted on by the WAC head coaches. He had 42 total tackles/23 solo with 6 tackles for loss and 4 sacks.
Second-team All-WAC player… Versatile pass rusher with 13.0 career quarterback sacks and 27.5 career tackles for loss …sixth on the 2008 team in tackles with 64 and led the squad in unassisted stops with 47…was the national leader in quarterback sacks and tackles for loss during the first half of the 2008 season… along with his brother, safety Duke Ihenacho, are the only known brother combination to be NCAA statistical leaders in the same season …finished eighth among FBS players in tackles for loss (18.5), 49th in quarterback sacks (7.0) and 29th in forced fumbles.
Credited with a team-high 5.0 quarterback sacks and tied for fifth in the WAC for solo sacks...10th in overall sacks in the conference...Had 2.0 sacks against nationally-ranked Hawai’i (10/12)...Also had sacks in the UC Davis (9/29), Idaho (10/6) and Nevada (11/24) wins...Third on the Spartans in tackles for loss at 6.0...Only Spartan from the 2007 season with a tackle for loss in four consecutive contests (Utah State, UC Davis, Idaho and Hawaii)...Consistent contributor with five four-tackle games (UC Davis, Hawai’i, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and Nevada).
Played in 12 games and drew three starting assignments as a true freshman...Displayed versatility by playing inside and outside in the defensive scheme...Ihenacho’s 28 tackles tied him with Ryno Gonzalez for most tackles by a true freshman in 2006...Tied for ninth on team in total tackles...Picked up lone sack in the Fresno State win...Recorded a career-high seven tackles against Nevada.
Lettered in football (Coach Scott Altenburg) at Serra High School in Gardena, Calif. ... was a defensive end and tight end ...a second-team all-league pick and his team’s Rookie of the Year in 2005.
Psychology major... the 2005 football season was his first year of any organized sports ...was born in Los Angeles, Calif., and turned 19-years-old in 2007.
Draft Scout Player News
09/03/12 - LB Carl Ihenacho, a converted defensive end, made the 53-man roster mostly on his skill as pass rusher.