Duck Season: Glen Ihenacho follows in older brothers’ footsteps to college football

**Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the Emerald’s Duck Season magazine, a preview of the Oregon football team’s upcoming season that is currently available for free at all Duck Store locations in Eugene. We will post each story in the days leading up to the first day of fall practice on Aug. 10.

The first character Oregon redshirt freshman safety Glen Ihenacho can remember interacting with was Pinocchio. Every night, his mother would tell the tale of the wooden puppet that dreamed of being a real boy, often stopping because he would fall asleep in the middle of the story.

“If you ask any kid what his favorite book is,” Ihenacho said, “it’ll probably be their favorite bedtime story. Mine is Pinocchio.”

The famous moral of Pinocchio’s story is not to lie – a lesson that Ihenacho holds true to this day.

“There’s no point to lying,” he said.

One thing that’s not a lie is that Glen comes from a talented football family. Both his brothers, Duke and Carl, played at San Jose State University before suiting up in the NFL. Carl played linebacker for the Oakland Raiders while Duke is currently a safety for the Washington Redskins.

Glen chatted with the Emerald to discuss his football background.

Were your older brothers the ones that convinced you to play football in high school?

Actually, I wanted to play football before my brothers. They loved basketball. I would say they’re better than me at basketball, but I always wanted to play football since, forever, actually.

My mom, coming from Nigeria, wasn’t raised watching football, so seeing the sport of football was kind of foreign for her. And if you see the sport from the outside looking in, it does look kind of dangerous. She always felt that I — or all of us — would get hurt, so she kept me out of it even as much as I begged to play Pop Warner.

So when did she cave in?

Really, she didn’t even cave in, honestly. It was more so my brothers. She didn’t even cave in with my brothers.

My first defensive back coach got us to play football because we all went to Junipero Serra (Gardena, California), so he got my brothers to play football in 2007, or something like that. How successful they were, that was able to convince my mom to let me play, because I always wanted to and I’d been begging her for a long time. My brothers knew how athletic I was based on stuff I’d do around the house, so they figured I’d be good at it.

Does she worry when she watches you play?

She still does, you know, because…

She’s a mom?

Yeah, she’s a mom and I have some habits. Not being able to grow into football as a kid, I have a habit to be reckless. In high school I probably was diving and flying around the field. I would be an athlete for a mom to be scared about.

On the field, you guys are losing players in your secondary. How excited are you, after redshirting last year, to try and get in the fold this year?

I’m very excited – especially with this secondary we have this year. We’re all very talented in more than one aspect. We can do anything. Coach [John] Neal keeps telling us how excited he is for how good we are while we’re this young. It’s promising. Everyone is excited.

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Joseph Hoyt

Joseph Hoyt

Joseph is in his third year as a sports reporter at the Emerald. If you have any questions for the reporter, email Joseph at [email protected]