BY CLAY BRYCE | Ball State Sports Link
Loose, light and ready.
Athletes must go through a long list of tasks that are necessary for them to do before a game.
For Ball State cornerback Amechi Uzodinma, his consists of constant warm-ups, visualization and a big playlist of music.
Uzodinma has produced extremely well in his sophomore season. Totaling in a team leading three interceptions and 17 total tackles. His preparation has obviously been doing him well.
Homecoming has proven to be one of the most important games of the year. With a packed stadium he is looking to showcase his abilities. This is how Amechi Uzodinma gets dialed in.
The biggest home game of the year calls for a good night’s rest. The Marriott hotel is the stay for the Cardinals before they take on Toledo in the homecoming game. Amechi Uzodinma made sure to get every bit of rest as possible.
8:30 a.m. His first alarm blares.
8:35 a.m. After a quick snooze it begins to sound again.
8:40 a.m. One final time the alarm blasts and he springs out of bed to take a shower.
At 9 a.m. The special team has its first morning meeting. Once the special teams meeting is wrapped up, it’s time for the defensive walkthrough. With Uzodinma’s forte being in defense he makes sure to pay deep attention and absorb in everything possible.
10:30 a.m. It’s time to get the essential fuel for the body. Uzodinma piles a hefty plate of hash browns, eggs, chicken and spaghetti. For this being his final meal before the game, he makes sure he eats all that he can.
Uzodinma has some time to spend on himself before the team meets to head to the field. His best friend has become his headphones. He spends sometime alone listening to Meek Mill and watching YouTube.
On YouTube, he studies some of the current best players at his position. Jalen Ramsey and Marshon Lattimore are just two of the players Uzodinma examines.
The busses arrive outside of the Marriott at 11:30 and the team loads onto them. Headphones still on for Uzodinma. He holds a connection with rap, so he listens to the new album from YoungBoy Never Broke Again. He is beginning to concentrate more on the game of football as he gets closer to the stadium.
The team arrives and it is time to get taped up. Uzodinma does not have any injuries or tweaks in his body so he gets the normal ankle tape.
He then heads to the locker room to arrange everything that he is going to wear before the game. Once he has all of that set out for himself, he heads out to the field.
“I come out to the field and start warming up by myself before the team comes out,” Uzodinma said. “I get my legs moving and I catch the ball as soon as I come out. I throw the ball around with Coach Neu. Then I’ll do some DB drills and footwork drills to try and get my feet moving.”
Once his solo warm-ups are finished, he goes back into the locker room and puts the headphones back on. Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” start to blare and the intensity begins to build within Uzodinma. He only has time for that song and then it’s time to get dressed.
Pads are now on and Uzodinma heads back out to the field with the returners. Constant preparation and conditioning before the game sets up Uzodinma in his excellent positions he has been able to get in this season.
He then heads back to his locker and sits down. Headphones back on, Meek Mill playing once again. He looks to his left and right and sees Brett Anderson and Ethan Merriweather. With his teammates by his side he begins to zone in on the game.
“Music and visualizing what play I’m going to do on the field. Anything I want to accomplish in the game. Obviously, we want to win, so I will be visualizing about that.”
The team heads out as a whole to do 7-on-7. With his blood flowing and everything stretched out, Uzodinma is almost at his peak.
Back to the locker room. Coach Neu with the team this time. One of the most important games of the year. Coach is trying to relay this message to his team. Meanwhile, every player listens and a new form of energy sparks in them. This energy is only found on game day.
For the final time, the team takes the field. Uzodinma needs to speak to his grandmother.
“As soon as we run out from the tunnel, I go to the left far endzone. I go here because I need to pray. I decide to talk to God and talk to my granny that passed away when I was 12. I like to take this time to talk to her.”
Uzodinma’s granny showed to be a true inspiration to him and remains to be that seven years later.
“She was a big part of my life. She never got to see me play football, so she is a big motivation. I just say I love her and that I miss her. Then anything else that come to my mind at the time.”
2 p.m. Uzodinma heads back to the sideline with his teammates. Watching the coin toss he eagerly waits to get onto the field. Coach calls for the defense to take the field.
“As soon as they call defense out there, I’m walking on the field and it’s like tunnel vision. All I am thinking about is the next play and that’s it.”
When Uzodinma gets on the field and looks around at a packed stadium for homecoming it all comes to fruition for him. He straps his gloves tight and lines up across wide receiver, Bryce Mitchell.
In this moment, Amechi Uzodinma is completely dialed in.