God's gift arrives

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

The handle does not exactly roll off your tongue.

Chijioke Onyenegecha (pronounced OH-YENA-GECHA).

"My (first) name means God's gift," said Onyenegecha, who was born in San Francisco, Calif. "My parents are Nigerian, that's where I get the name from."

And now he's hoping to become God's gift to the Blue Bombers secondary.

'THINKING POSITIVELY'

"Chijioke was hurt initially and was slowed a little bit," Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry said yesterday. "But the last three days, he's come on quite significantly. As a matter of fact, even his whole attitude and atmosphere about himself has been real good. He's thinking real positively and he's reacting real well, too."

If that sounds familiar, cornerback Robert Bean started the same way at last year's training camp but showed enough once he was healthy to stick with the team.

But Onyenegecha is still learning this strange Canadian game.

"It's razzle dazzle," said the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Oklahoma product. "I'm not going to say it's really hard but you have to study and honestly, it's really tough at the position I'm playing (defensive half). I mean, corner not so much but when you're moving to halfback, it gets a little tough.

"You've got your focus on your technique and you have to crank it up a little bit so, I'm working on my mental game. I'm getting smarter. I'm trying to use my technique instead of using athletic ability and burning myself out all day.

"It's way different and it's pretty much a culture shock to me trying to figure out all these different rules and what I can do and what I can't do, and how to play this and how to play that. But I'm slowly getting the hang of it."

Not only is the well-spoken import new to the CFL, it is the first time he has been to Canada for more than a few hours.

"Everything's new to me," admitted Onyenegecha, 24. "It's a whole new experience. Winnipeg, Canada, it's like my first time in Canada. I once went browsing through Niagara Falls when I was in Buffalo running at a track meet and they just took us up there."

He is always looking to learn. In fact, Onyenegecha majored in African-American studies in college because of his heritage.

"I just wanted to learn more because, growing up in the States, they don't teach you about the African-American background," he said. "And being an Americanized African, you just learn whatever they teach you, and you get a little Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and that's about it."

Now he hopes to get more familiarized with the Canadian culture -- if and when he cracks the Winnipeg roster.


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