Ezeuzoh set to make impact as new Blue Hen offensive lineman

Chuka Ezeuzoh

NEWARK — In two seasons at Delaware State, Chuka Ezeuzoh started 17 games and played in 19.

So playing in zero games last year after transferring to Delaware was a strange feeling.

“Oh, it was really tough,” said the big offensive lineman. “I went from a two-year starter to just standing and watching games. I felt like I was back in middle school.”

But after sitting out his required redshirt season, Ezeuzoh thinks he’s ready to make an impact for his new team.

A 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior is expected to see a lot of playing time this fall for Delaware. The Concord High grad has been rotating in at the starting left guard spot for Delaware during preseason.

“He’s got a neat personality,” said Blue Hen coach Danny Rocco. “He’s a smart kid. I think everybody in this sport respects toughness and hard work – and he’s tough and he works hard. You get instant credibility when you bring those two things to the table.

“He’s learning the offense and he’s progressing really well.”

Kani Kane carries the ball in Tuesday night’s scrimmage as the Hens debuted their blue uniform pants. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

A third-team, preseason all-MEAC pick two years ago, the addition of Ezeuzoh is one reason the Hens still feel good about their offensive line despite losing a couple veteran players to graduation.

Delaware still has tackle Noah Beh along with guards Steve Robinson and Connor Lutz back as returning starters. Senior Jethro Pepe also has starting experience while sophomore David Kroll has been a fixture at left tackle in camp.

Then there’s senior Mario Farinella, who’s battled injuries during his career, but was named to the preseason all-Colonial Athletic Association team after having a good spring practice.

Ezeuzoh said looking forward to this season is one thing that got him through sitting out last year.

“I’m just happy being here,” he said after the Hens scrimmaged in Delaware Stadium on Tuesday evening. “It’s a great opportunity to play here. Even if I wasn’t playing in that particular moment in time, I’d just think about the future. That really motivated me.”

Ezeuzoh said it was always his dream to play for the Hens. So it doesn’t matter to him whether he’s starting or not.

After waiting for his time to come, Ezeuzoh is just happy to be back on the field.

“I’m definitely excited,” he said. “Whether I’m off the bench or starting, I just want to play.”

Feeling blue?

Delaware football is built on tradition. And, for as long as anyone can remember, the Hens have worn yellow uniform pants.

So it was something of an historic moment when Delaware scrimmaged in blue pants on Tuesday night.

The offense wore all blue with the defense outfitted in white jerseys and blue pants. The pants have yellow stripes down the side.

“Now we’ll have more options and combinations when we come out,” said Rocco.

The second-year head coach said he’d let the captains have a say in what colors the Hens wear for their season opener against Rhode Island on Aug. 30.

Not surprisingly, the players got a kick out of debuting the new look.

“These blue pants are sweet,” said quarterback J.P. Caruso. “I like them a lot.”

“They’re great, I love them,” said senior linebacker Charles Bell. “We’re very excited.”

Caruso getting there

QB J.P. Caruso said he feels much more comfortable after spending a year in the program and undergoing shoulder surgery. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

Even though Tuesday night’s practice was Delaware’s last significant scrimmage before the season opener, Rocco said he was going to take another day or two to tell the team who Delaware’s starting quarterback will be.

Judging from practice, however, it still looks like Caruso will still be No. 1 QB after starting the final six games of the season in 2017. Rocco said the fifth-year senior clearly understands the offense better after spending a year in the system.

“Last year, early on, communication was an area we weren’t real strong with – in terms of him being able to communicate the plays,” said Rocco. “So he’s much, much better there. And I just think with having started a number of games, and having performed in some big wins, he has made himself a better football player.

“Now he’s not where he needs to,” Rocco added. “That was evidenced tonight.”

Rocco also said the off-season shoulder surgery Caruso underwent seems to have made a big difference. There were times last year when he couldn’t even throw during the week.

“On Saturdays, he was at varying levels of efficiency,” said Rocco. “He’s certainly not dealing with that kind of pain right now.”

Considering he only transferred from Appalachian State last summer, Caruso would like to think he’s much farther ahead than he was last year at this time.

“It’s night and day honestly,” he said. “I feel so much more comfortable in this offense with these receivers. I didn’t even know half the team by name at this point last year.

“I feel a lot more comfortable back there and I’m healthier. I’m just having a lot of fun out here.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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