The Saarland Hurricanes have boosted an already potent roster with the signing of running back and kick returner David Oku.
The Hurricanes have opened the 2017 season with two straight wins and the addition of Oku, who arrived in time to see some action in the win over the Stuttgart Scorpions, (119 all-purpose yards), could take them from playoff contender to playoff favorite.
Oku, 5’11”, 195 lbs, from Midwest City, Oklahoma, is truly a world-class athlete and has made a huge impact everywhere he has played. Leaving high school he was one of the most highly recruited running backs in the US, landing a scholarship at Tennessee where he found regular time as a running back and kick returner before transferring to Arkansas State after his sophomore season. At Arkansas State, he finished his two seasons with 1,845 all purpose yards and 23 touchdowns. He graduated as one of the most productive rushers in school history and received Sunbelt All-Conference honors before heading to Europe to start his career with the Swarco Raiders in the Austrian Football League.
He spent a season with Raiders playing in non-league games and played in the fledgling Chinese Arena Football League in 2016 with the Dalian Dragon Kings.
Saarland General Manager Paul Motzki:
“We saw on film what David did in the SEC, Sun-Belt Conference, and AFL. There is no question that this guy is going to make plays for us in the GFL.”
American Football International caught up with David following his first game with the Hurricanes.
American Football International: How did you end up with the Saarland Hurricanes?
David Oku: I was signed to play in Russia for the season and there was a problem with documents which lead to me end up with the Hurricanes. A team recruiter reached out and I felt it was a great fit for me. So that’s how I ended up in Saarland.
AFI: How would you compare football in Austria and Germany?
Oku: Germany is more developed, you can tell it has been around for a while playing football. You can honestly compare GFL 1 to NCAA Division 2 or maybe even d-1aa football.
AFI: You played in the Chinese Arena Football League. What was that like?
Oku: It was a great experience. Most Chinese players hadn’t played football very much so it was a learning curve as well for some players. I honestly do believe with more time and Americans helping with teaching and coaching the sport will grow even faster.
AFI: How did you find out about playing football abroad?
Oku: A recruiter found me on Facebook and asked if I wold be interested in playing football in Europe. I replied to him. Until that time I never heard of American football being played in Europe. Since my first season with the Swarco Raiders I haven’t looked back. Its been great.
AFI: What is your favorite food from a non-US country?
Oku: Its hard for me to say exactly cause I’ve gotten to visit many countries so far and try food. I can’t pick one. It would have to be Tyrolean food (Innsbruck, Austria) the Tyrol can make very tasteful home cooked dishes that make me feel like I’m back at home. And also Italian food (Naples and Sicily) The Deep South of Italian food is amazing.
AFI: What are your expectations?
Oku: Expectations are to always win. But what comes with winning is more than just going out on the field. We have to start with practice and consistency. The Hurricanes made a playoff push last season and I would like to help make it even further this season.
AFI: What do you bring to the team?
Oku: As a player I bring versatility being able to line up everywhere on the field. RB/WR/KR/PR/QB maybe DB or S if needed.
“I would just like to say thank you to God, my Family, my mentors (Keith Florie, Lenny H, Travis H) and to two beautiful people who I consider another mom and dad in my life Gary Rose and Shelia Rose (Mamma Rose). If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be playing in Europe today. Very blessed to have them and for pushing me to get out and see the world.”
Check out David Oku’s highlights
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