TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -Junior defensive lineman Noel Iwuchukwu had no idea who the sophomore was.
“I was like, who is this dude? When I first saw him, me and my boy Thomas, we didn’t know who he was. And he just came out and impressed everybody. That was the first time I ever heard his name.”
The name was Kylan Wilborn. The place was Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks California. It wouldn’t be long before the rest of Notre Dame learn what kind of a player Wilborn was.
“Kylan was a beast,” said Iwuchukwu. “He was right next to me. I was a year older than him. I already knew he was good. He was a sophomore on varsity so, when he came, I brought my A-game because he made me better.”
Even at that young age, Wilborn’s presence was impressive for two reasons. Size, yes. But mostly speed.
“He was a pretty big guy,” said Iwuchukwu. “Pretty nimble for his size. He was probably ten pounds heavier than me. But he was more nimble than me so I had to give him that.”
Their two seasons together at Notre Dame weren’t exactly impressive. In Wilborn’s sophomore year on varsity, the team finished 6-4. In 2015? 3-7. Still, Wilborn’s skill on both defense and offense (he was also Notre Dame’s running back his senior year of 2016) was undeniable. By the spring of his junior year he’d already committed to Arizona.
By that point, Iwuchukwu had finished his first season playing for College of the Canyons, a junior college program in Santa Clarita, California. Months later, as Wilborn was making noise in what would eventually become an All-American freshman campaign at Arizona, Iwuchukwu was in the midst of his own successful season. By the end of his sophomore year, the defensive end was named 2017 First Team All-Southern California Football Association National Division and the Western State Bowl MVP. His next stop? Arkansas State.
“Arkansas State just grabbed my attention because they had a lot of camaraderie. They had a lot of wholesomeness and authenticity. At the end of the day, I felt like it was the best fit for me.”
It was the best fit because of opportunity.
“Position wise, people don’t understand because they underestimate our D-line but we probably have one of the best D-lines in the country. I feel like I’m going to be able to up my game this coming year.”
Still for a kid coming from Los Angeles, California, Jonesboro, Arkansas took some getting used to.
“It was really different,” said Iwuchukwu. “Small town. People, they always want to talk to you. Altogether, it was a good impact. It was an overall positive type of environment.”
As Iwuchukwu’s journey has continued upward, Wilborn has had his back..and vice versa.
“He always encouraged me to stay on the path,” said Iwuchukwu. “I give him support too because I know he’s handling his business over here.”
He is indeed, to the point where most everyone from Wildcat Nation knows the name, Kylan Wilborn.