In the Jets locker room at the team’s training facility, left guard Oday Aboushi and linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali sit side by side. But they were once even closer than this when, two years ago, they battled each other on the field in college.
Enemkpali, a product of Louisiana Tech and a sixth-round pick of the Jets in this past May’s NFL Draft, squared off against Aboushi’sin 2012 while he was at Virginia. It was a game both players remember — but with slightly different narratives.
During offseason workouts this past summer, the second-year Aboushi sidled up next to the player known as “I.K.” while on the sidelines.
“I asked him whether he remembered that [left] tackle from Virginia. He said he did. I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right, you remember that tackle from Virginia. That was me.’ We had a good game against them. It was a real tough one,” Aboushi said.“He was one of the better players I played against. He had one hell of a bull rush. It was straight power against power. It was great playing against him. As a competitor, that’s what you want. He had a clear passion for the game and he played that way, hard, every snap. I love that and I love going against that type of player.
“He didn’t touch the quarterback though.”
Enemkpali laughed when asked about the game. He remembers the game, and that Louisiana Tech won. They didn’t. He also remembers he did more than just touch the quarterback.
“I got a sack in that game,” Enemkpali said. “Look it up. He’s not right on that.”
Lo and behold, Enemkpali had a sack and four total tackles. It wouldn’t be the first time an offensive lineman has forgotten a sack.
What stuck out in Aboushi’s mind from that game was his opponent’s temperament. Aboushi loves to talk trash. He began jawing with his future teammate, reminding him after every big block and pancake he was “not coming close.” It’s all good natured, he says, but it’s part of playing against Aboushi. You will remember his voice long after a game.
“I’d keep talking and talking at him,” Aboushi said. “And he never said anything back. Not a word. He’d get up or stop and just walk back to the other side. He never said a word. But he was a real intense player on the field, I remember that.”
Enemkpali said he isn’t big into trash talking, but he recalls Aboushi from that game.
“A real good player, really strong. Good technique. A battler. … I definitely remembered him because of how hard he was to get past,” Enemkpali said.“Yeah, he did talk a lot. He still does.”
Aboushi sits just a few feet away on a stool in front of his locker, putting lotion on his face following a shower — and quietly talking to himself.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.