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Bear Insider Video: Junior OLB Henry Ikahihifo

August 19, 2022
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6-3/260 former Nevada by way of College of the Canyons outside linebacker Henry Ikahihifo‍ has the look of a player who’s finally found his home after a circuitous route to Cal.

“Man, it's been good so far, getting after it day by day, learning my playbook,” said Ikahihifo. I'm really trying to make an impact this year on the outside. It's been going well so far.”

When the big junior was being recruited, a name who kept coming up in comparison was 2021 surprise standout grad transfer Marqez Bimage, with his relentless pursuit and violent style of play. He was asked if his strength and aggressive style of play are what reminds some of the recent grad.

“Most definitely, it’s power,'' said Ikahihifo of the similarities. “I may not be the biggest, I may not be the fastest, but on this field, I'm going to make sure I'm known for that power and that move that I have. Me and Bimage I would say, we have that power similarly locked down very well.”

Ikahihifo started out his collegiate career playing tight end for Nevada so he brings a unique perspective to the defensive side of the ball, especially when covering his former position.

“That gives me an edge really on these tight ends here. I was a blocking tight end for Nevada. I was an H back, and they even moved me to receiver a couple of times, so I really got an idea of where the tight end is lined up; where's he going to go, how's he going to set the edge. I used to do that stuff so seeing how he's going to do that really brings the edge to my game cause I know what he's going to do and I can beat him to it,'' said Ikahihifo.

The redshirt junior is clearly relishing his new lease on life at his new home and the opportunity his transfer has brought to him.

“Yeah, most definitely,'' said Ikahihifo. “The JC grind is real, you know, losing everything, not being on scholarship, not getting money monthly, having to pay for your own books. Being at that JC level is humbling, so when you get to JC and realize you don't have those things. You come to Cal knowing it's a blessing and you really need to take advantage of the things you didn't at the school before. Coming from JC, it was a really humbling experience to be here where I am today.”

So far, even though the linebacker position is one that’s most difficult to read in terms of impact in mostly non-contact practices, playing on the edge allows Ikahihifo to show his power fighting off blocks and putting pressure on the QB and so far, he’s been getting his share of meaningful reps so far in camp.

“The transition has been great. Lately, I've been running it with the twos, a little bit with the ones. Coach So’oto, he's been really been harping on me, getting me on my playbook, which I have been lately. The biggest thing for me is I want to be trustworthy,'' said Ikahihifo. “ A lot of people want to start, a lot of people want to be this type of guy; I just want to be trustworthy, to where all the people around me trust me and trust me to go out there and make plays and do my 111's inside the line.”

The transfer OLB is one of a growing number of players and staff with Polynesian backgrounds and the bond that shared background establishes is more than skin deep amongst the players and staff.

“Yeah, me and the Polys, we get along really, really well. We don't hide it. We really try to bring others into that Poly tradition type love. So me and Coach So’oto, Coach So’oto knows the trainer I trained with to make that transition from tight end to linebacker, so my trainer, he's really been helping me and harping on me, and he's really teaching me the same stuff as Coach So’oto, so I think that had a lot to do with the smooth transition that I had here.”

Even though they’re the exact same size at 6-3/260, fellow OLB transfer Odua Isibor‍ has a much different frame and a different style of play that’s complimentary to the powerful Ikahihifo.

“They both bring different skill sets to the room,” said So’oto after practice yesterday. “They both have really good practice habits. They aren’t guys I’ve gotta chase around in practice. They go after the ball. They naturally go out there and hunt, which I really like.

“Odua’s got this twitch about him where he can drop the hammer when he wants to in the pass rush game and Henry has an explosive ability, too, when he gets into packed spaces and can come out with his hips. He’s done a really good job.”

“We bring a lot of athleticism and technique to the game,'' said Ikahihifo of he and Isibor. “ Odua is like that really fast and twitchy guy. Me, I’m really that set the edge and bully guy, so having that too on the edge, it brings a lot to that Bimage and Cam Goode (comparison). Odua, he's really athletic, he has great technique, me, I'm not gonna let any tackle get outside without me hitting them, so it really is a good combination. We really get along really really well.”

Related:

Bear Insider Video: Senior OLB Odua Isibor

Cal 2022 Position Preview: Outside Linebackers

 
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