Boyd Okwuono, better known as OC, is having a pretty nice year. After leading his FC Dallas U18 Academy side to an appearance in the USSDA National Championship game in July, anchoring a defense that allowed just 12 goals in 23 games, a nice, quiet freshman year full of learning the college game would have been a fitting end to 2011. He was just getting started.
Born in Edmond, Oklahoma to Nigerian parents, OC played all 25 games for the Tar Heels starting in central defense for the national champions becoming the first FC Dallas Academy player to win an NCAA championship ring.
"My first year here coming to this team, the transition was good," said Okwuono. "Carlos Somoano is a wonderful coach, the team has done really well and we accomplished our goal that we set. Hopefully we will accomplish more and more."
When talking to OC, you can really get an understanding of just how important the FCD academy and Oscar Pareja have been to his development as a player.
"Coming into it, FC Dallas helped me adjust to it a lot, Oscar, the whole staff and academy players. Coming here[to UNC], I was a lot more mature player," said OC about the Academy. "People were telling me that I play like a senior, that I have a lot of qualities that freshman don't have. Oscar always tells us be sharp, don't be late to dinner, don't be late to lunch, get to bed on time. It's the little things that matter and they do and they help me a lot."
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his time at UNC this year was the amazing amount of responsibility coach Somoano put on the freshman's shoulders. While we can't see any of the Tar Heel games during the regular season, in watching the College Cup I was struck by the composure shown on the ball by the center back and how he was, many times, left as the last defender on offensive set pieces and corners.
"He basically gave me a big role on the team and said I know you can handle it, I trust you and I believe in you." said Okwuono on his defensive responsibilities in 2011.
As with any successful college player that comes through the FC Dallas system, the question now turns to when, and if, we are going to see him in an FC Dallas jersey. If it was up to his parents, the freshman would probably spend all four years in Chapel Hill.
"My parents are more for education. They really want me to get my education first. They’re from Nigeria so them coming to the United States and hearing that you can get a free education was crazy to them." said Boyd. "Everybody has a different journey and mine just happened to be through college and I feel like coming here was a step toward what my dream is."
That dream is to suit up at Pizza Hut Park representing the club that he credits with his development as a professional and a human.
"My dream is to go professional. College is good too, but whenever the chance and opportunity is I feel like God will let me know when the right time is." said OC before saying something that is music to Dallas fans' ears. "I would love to go to FC Dallas, love to. Family can come watch me, there’s nothing better than home."
Once FC Dallas fans get a good look at OC, they'll be hoping Frisco, Texas is his home for a long time.