Early Influence: Amobi Okoye

Before training camps kick off, a number of players and some coaches will pay tribute to people who helped them make it to the NFL as part of the AFC South Blog’s summer series: “Early Influence.”

Amobi Okoye, Texans defensive tackle

“My high school defensive line coach, Greg Campbell [Robert E. Lee High School in Huntsville, Ala.]. First of all he was the coach that saw me in home room, he was a substitute teacher, and said come on out and play. My best friend, one of my best friends to this day, Bradley Nall, told me, ‘No, you don’t want to come out there, you’ll get broken.’

“Between both of them, day in and day out you think about that: What if that moment wouldn’t have happened? I probably would have never tried to play football.

“I listened to both of them. Greg Campbell said you’re a big guy, you can play a sport. And my friend challenged me by saying no you’re not going to be able to do it. We never really talked about football like that until that moment.

“From Campbell, it’s all the coaching points he gave us, all the motivational ways he used. He was a coach but at the same time a friend. And from him, all the other coaches were the same. He was our wrestling coach too. We used to talk about women, working out and trying to get right.

“On the field he always used to say 'Bam. Bam. Bam.' He was trying to teach us you’ve got to be explosive like that. We’d do a rip move and he’s say, 'Bam.' We always said we were going to have a Bam Camp one time. Now and then I think about that and just smile.”