On Saturday morning, Chuka Ndulue was picked up by campus police for driving under the influence. The starting defensive end for the Oklahoma Sooners was detained around 4:00 a.m. and released later that morning around 9:00 a.m. While his stay in lockup may be over for the time being, his time in Bob Stoops’ dog house may just be getting started.
Ndulue returns for his senior season as the only Oklahoma defensive lineman with any real experience heading into 2013. He was a solid player in 2012, posting 45 total tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. As a unit, the defensive line was underwhelming last year and Ndulue was going to be leaned on to provide some veteran leadership as they tried to improve things next fall.
But behavior like this could derail Ndulue from really taking over a leader on defense. Oklahoma doesn’t have too many other options, however, returning just four players from the starting defense from a year ago. Bob Stoops needed leaders to step up to raise the level of accountability and effort on the defensive side of the ball and a DUI arrest is not the right way to show you can provide that leadership.
Up until now, Ndulue has not had any other incidents like this one made public, so he will likely face just a one-game suspension from the team. Oklahoma opens the season against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in a game that could test how far the defense has come from last season. Losing Ndulue will push more inexperienced players into the rotation without knowing how they will react.
After his suspension, it’s likely that Ndulue will be on a short leash with the coaching staff. Being handed a leadership position with a team in desperate need of leaders and responding with a DUI will not endear him to his coaches. He will have plenty of work to do to repair his standing with them and the rest of his team before the season kicks off next fall.