If Kansas State pass rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah becomes a Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Tomlin’s going to have to work on his name a little bit. Speaking to our Jonathan Heitritter and Joe Clark at the 2023 NFL Combine, Anudike-Uzomah recalled his formal meeting with Tomlin and the Steelers.
“Mike Tomlin, he’s a great guy,” Anudike-Uzomah said during his Wednesday Combine press conference. “I love him. It’s funny because we were just talking about how I’m African and he’s had African players in the past. He was just talking about how he’s trying to pronounce my name. He almost got it. He almost got it. But it was a fun experience talking to him.”
For those scoring at home, his last name is pronounced: ann-you-DEE-kay you-ZAH-ma
In the time it takes to work out all the syllables, Anudike-Uzomah has probably already reached the quarterback. A premier pass rusher in the Big 12, he racked up 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons, helping to turn around the program in the post Bill Snyder era. In 2020, the Wildcats finished a lowly 4-6. By 2021, Anudike-Uzomah became a starter and the Wildcats went 8-5, winning their first bowl game since 2017. The program made another leap in 2022, ending with its first 10-win season in a decade and finishing 14th in college football’s final Top 25.
Now he’s looking to take on the NFL. With good size at a listed 6’4, 255 pounds, he believes he has the versatility to play with his hand up or hand down, making him an all-around scheme fit.
“Third and eight, there’s times I stood up, did some stuff like that. I’m pretty comfortable with that, too. Some people haven’t seen that much yet, but honestly because our coach at K-State taught us to put our hand in the dirt. But rushing from a two-point, I’m pretty comfortable.”
He figures to be one of several prospects asked to work out as a rush end and stand-up linebacker, going through coverage drills during the on-field workouts later in the week. If he can show smoothness and the ability to flip his hips, he’ll profile well for Pittsburgh. The Steelers don’t drop their outside linebackers like they used to but having that versatility is important.
Anudike-Uzomah is capable of turning the corner and bending the edge but he prefers to start his rushes with power to test the tackle and make him worried about getting beat down the middle, not around. Despite being only 255 pounds, he’s lauded for his play strength and power.
“My go-to move is basically just try to beat him with power, see if he’s weak or not. So every time I try to start with the long arm. Cause with me starting with long arm, for me it determines what type of tackle he is. If he’s fast, if he’s weak, if he’s anything like that. And then from there I just work around and use other pass rush moves.”
Moves that consistently worked against solid competition and put him on the NFL’s map, one of more than 300 players invited to this year’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He’s currently mocked as the 49th overall pick which, funny enough, is the exact pick Pittsburgh holds this year. Depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith still looks thin and there’s no such thing as a defense having too many talented pass rushers.
Anudike-Uzomah is a name you might hear again and again in 2023. So Mike Tomlin might have to work on his pronunciation skills. The good news is he’s still got two months to practice.