Courage Idemudia is a three-year starter for the Hounds. CNJ photo: Eric Kluth.
PORTALES — Nigerian-born Courage Idemudia knows his first name must have a special meaning. He’s just not sure what it is.
“I never asked my parents about it,” the Eastern New Mexico University junior said. “I just know I try to live up to it.”
An outside linebacker, Idemudia moved from a village in his native land to the Dallas area nine years ago to live with an uncle.
Just shy of his 13th birthday when he came to the United States, he said he learned English mainly by watching television and now speaks the language fluently. He also took to football quickly enough to earn a college scholarship.
“My mom wanted me to come here to get a better education,” he said. “I was scared at first, but I knew I would be better in the long run.”
The stout 6-foot, 200-pounder has made a solid impact in three seasons with the Greyhounds (5-2, 1-2 Lone Star Conference South Division), who host Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday at Blackwater Draw.
A starter since he came to ENMU, Idemudia has been in on 34 tackles this season. He has two quarterback sacks, an interception and two fumble recoveries.
“He hits like a ton of bricks; he’s the hardest hitter on the team,” ENMU defensive coordinator Mark Ribaudo said. “He’s everything you look for in an outside linebacker.”
Idemudia, who has not been back to Nigeria since he left, but said he talks to his family by phone almost every week and hopes to return to visit after he graduates.
He said his coach at DeSoto High School in suburban Dallas, the late Ben Dial, was a former Eastern player and encouraged him to come to the school.
Living in Portales, too, has been an adjustment.
“When you come from a big town, there’s not much to do,” he said. “But I came here and found a girlfriend, and she’s made it a little easier for me.”
Idemudia said he played almost every down on defense last year. Now he rotates at his position with junior Jordan Lambert, part of an ENMU philosophy to try to keep fresh bodies on the field.
Ribaudo said Idemudia is a good student, and helps tutor other college students on campus.
“He’s a pretty quiet kid,” Ribaudo said. “He talks with his pads, but everybody respects him.”