Maryland football junior Chigoziem Okonkwo is an anime-loving tight end who enjoys thrift shopping and strongly believes YoungBoy Never Broke Again is the best rapper. Sorry, Drake, Kanye West and Travis Scott.
But when Okonkwo is not catching passes from junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, he has another role that’s equally important as one on the field — at least to his teammates. He is the Terps’ sneaker hookup.
“[Okonkwo] is the distributor on the team,” senior receiver Brian Cobbs said. “If you look on the team’s Instagram and see some limited editions, you know where they came from.”
Purchasing sneakers, especially exclusive pairs, can be a difficult task. Almost every week, people will complain about missing out on the latest sneaker drops on Nike’s SNKRS app.
On the resale market, shoes are valued as much as student loans, as websites like StockX, GOAT and Flight Club sell some sneakers for more than $10,000.
Okonkwo, however, has a sneaker hookup he uses to avoid the SNKRS app — where he has a 5% success rate — and outrageous prices on resale websites. Okonkwo can’t reveal his source. Just know, his status as a division one college football player, he said, gives him access to El Dorado. Only instead of gold, he can mine sneakers.
On Okonkwo’s Instagram page, he can be seen rocking the Nike Concepts x Dunk Low SB “Purple Lobster,” which is valued at more than $1,100 on StockX, the Nike Air Force 1 Low Off-White MCA University Blue, and even the Dior x Air Jordan 1s Lows, which is being sold for as much as $7,000.
“They’re all high-grade shoes,” said Okonkwo, whose favorite sneaker model is the Jordan 1s and the Nike Dunks. “If I were to wear them anywhere like to the mall, I’m going to get comments on them every time. I only wear shoes like that.”
Okonkwo isn’t afraid to wear his sneakers. While some players will walk around the team’s performance center wearing slides, he loves showing off his collection. Whenever a player wants an exclusive pair of sneakers, they will go to Okonkwo.
“People on the team tell me what they want,” said Okonkwo, who returned to the field this season after missing 2020 with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. “I go to my plug and tell him what it is and get them. Everyone on the team is rocking heat.”
Junior safety Nick Cross has an intriguing collection with shoes like Sean Wotherspoon’s Nike Air Max 1/97, the Off-White Jordan 4s and the Trophy Room Jordan 5s. Okonkwo will quickly tell you that he’s the mastermind behind Cross’ sneaker collection.
“I know his whole collection because I brought his whole collection,” said Okonkwo. “He hits me every time ‘Aye, bruh, can you get me these?’”
Cobbs has been a sneakerhead since middle school. Before he brought his own shoes, he would do extra chores around the house so his mom would get him the latest kicks. Cobbs, whose favorite shoes are the Jordan 1s and Jordan 11s, said he reaches out to Okonkwo whenever he wants to add to his collection.
Cobbs and Okonkwo are both huge fans of rapper Travis Scott’s collaborations with Jordan Brand and Nike. Cobbs, who grew to love the signature Nike backward check on Scott’s shoes, said he recently got a pair of the Fragment x Travis Scott Air Jordan 1 Low.
“I think they’re amazing,” Okonkwo said. “I mean, every single Travis Scott collab goes crazy. Every single Travis Scott [collaboration] I try to get. My favorite pair of shoes [are] the Travis Scott [Jordan 1 Highs]. I love the [collaborations].”
The Houston rapper’s music, however, Okonkwo can live without. “That’s one rapper I can’t listen to,” he said. “[Scott’s] voice hurts me.”
Okonkwo said designer Virgil Abloh’s Off-White collaborations are hit-or-miss, while he loves Kanye West’s (who now goes by Ye) unique designs on the Foam Runners and other Yeezy brand sneakers.
For Okonkwo, the drip is eternal. He will quickly tell you the clothes are more important than the sneakers. He’s a fan of fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Palm Angels and Chrome Hearts. At least once a month, Okonkwo would go to thrift stores to search for vintage tees. He would sometimes go on the video-sharing app TikTok for outfit inspiration.
“You can’t come around me if you ain’t got drip,” he said. “You can’t be in my picture if you don’t got drip.”
Even though Okonkwo, who has 18 catches for 175 yards and three touchdowns this season and was recently rated the seventh-best fullback/H-back prospect in the 2022 NFL draft class by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., is the source of Maryland’s shoe game, coach Mike Locksley said he has his own style.
“I’m not taking recommendations from [Okonkwo] on my drip,” Locksley said, jokingly. “I have a big boy drip, man.”