Duke Ihenacho
Ihenacho with the Washington Redskins in 2016
No. --     
Strong safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1989-06-16) June 16, 1989 (age 30)
Place of birth: Torrance, California
Career information
College: San Jose State
Undrafted in 2012
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
*Denver Broncos ( 2012 2013)
Career highlights and awards
*3× First-team All-WAC (2008, 2009, 2011)
Total tackles     144
Forced fumbles     3
Fumble recoveries     2
Pass deflections     8
Interceptions     0

Duke Uba Ihenacho (born June 16, 1989) is an American football strong safety who is currently a free agent. He played college football at San Jose State. He signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent following the 2012 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

Early yearsEdit

Born in Torrance, California, Ihenacho grew up in Carson, California and graduated from Junípero Serra High School at Gardena in 2007.[1] He is of Nigerian descent.[2] Although Ihenacho's mother did not allow him to play Pop Warner football, he joined the Serra High School football team in junior year after playing basketball and baseball most of his childhood.[3] A three-star recruit, Ihenacho attracted two offers from New Mexico State and San Jose State. On February 27, 2007, Ihenacho signed with San Jose State.[4]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Duke Ihenacho
Carson, California Junípero Serra HS 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 191 lb (87 kg) 4.73 Feb 7, 2007 
Scout:3/5 stars   Rivals:2/5 stars   ESPN grade: 70
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 54 (S); 102 (school)   Rivals: 104 (school)
  • ‡ Refers to 40 yard dash
  • Note: In many cases, Scout and Rivals may conflict in their listings of height, weight and 40 time.
  • In these cases, an average of the two was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


College careerEdit

File:Duke Ihenacho.jpg

At San Jose State University, Ihenacho played five seasons with the Spartans football team under coaches Dick Tomey (2007 to 2009) and Mike MacIntyre (2010 to 2011). Ihenacho played on the team with his older brother Carl Ihenacho until 2009.[1]

Ihenacho entered the Spartans in 2007 as the youngest player on the team and ended the year with 32 tackles, the most for a San Jose State freshman since 2004. On September 29, Ihenacho made the only blocked punt in a win against UC Davis.[1] Following the blocked punt, quarterback Adam Tafralis made a 47-yard touchdown pass.[5] Ihenacho made a season-high seven tackles on October 12 against Hawaii and forced a fumble in that game as well.[1] San Jose State ended 2007 with a 5-7 record (4-4 in Western Athletic Conference games).[6]

In 2008, ESPN ranked Carl and Duke Ihenacho as one of the top ten brother combinations in college football for being among the top defensive players in FBS football.[7] By mid-October 2008, Duke led the FBS in interceptions.[3] In both the October 11 game against Utah State and October 18 game against New Mexico State, Ihenacho scored a 43-yard touchdown off an interception. Ihenacho's two interceptions in the Utah State game marked the only such time in the 2008 season. Ihenacho played as a linebacker in 2008 and was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference (WAC) selection.[1] San Jose State finished 2008 one game up from 2007, 6-6 (but still 4-4 in WAC).[8]

However, San Jose State finished the 2009 season 2-10 (1-7 WAC). In 2009, Ihenacho made 89 tackles, the second-most in the team that year, and tied his individual game high of 12 on October 10 against Idaho and November 21 against Hawaii.[9] San Jose State football coach Dick Tomey retired after 2009, and Mike MacIntyre became the new head coach.[10] In MacIntyre's first season, the Spartans finished 1-11 (0-8 WAC).[11] Ihenacho played only in two games of 2010 before a season-ending injury.[12]

2011 was a better season for the San Jose State Spartans, who finished 5-7 (3-4 WAC).[13] Ihenacho made 73 tackles in 2011, the third-most in the team, and led the team in deflected passes with six. Ihenacho made his third career touchdown on October 1 with a 20-yard fumble return against Colorado State.[1] That was also the first fumble returned for a touchdown by a San Jose State player since 2004.[14] In four games, Ihenacho made 10 or more tackles, including a season high 11 each against Idaho and Utah State.[1]

On October 14, 2011, San Jose State rallied in its homecoming game to beat Hawaii 28-27. ESPN carried that game as part of College Football Friday Primetime. With San Jose State down 27-20 in the fourth quarter, Ihenacho recovered a blocked point after touchdown and took the ball to the end zone for a defensive two-point conversion. San Jose State won despite five turnovers.[15][16] Geico nominated Ihenacho's conversion as the company's Play of the Year.[17] Ihenacho earned his third first-team All-WAC selection in 2011.[18] In December 2011, Ihenacho graduated from San Jose State with a B.A. in communication studies.[19]

Professional careerEdit


Ihenacho was considered one of the top strong safeties in the 2012 NFL Draft.[20] and was projected as a 5th round pick.

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 0 in 213 lb 4.68 s 1.62 s 2.65 s 4.22 s 6.78 s 35 in 10 ft 2 in 20 rep N/A

Denver BroncosEdit

File:Duke Ihenacho Broncos.jpg

Ihenacho signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent following the 2012 NFL Draft on April 28, 2012.[23] Ihenacho played all four games of the 2012 preseason and made seven tackles during the preseason.[24]

The Broncos signed Ihenacho to the practice squad on September 1 and activated Ihenacho from the practice squad on September 29, 2012.[25][26] On October 11, 2012, the Broncos released Ihenacho. They later signed him back to the practice squad on October 13 and to the active roster again on November 1. Ihenacho made one assisted tackle in his second game of the season, November 4 (Week 9) in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.[24] On November 13, 2012, he was waived by the Broncos.[27] Three days later, the Broncos re-signed Ihenacho to the practice squad.[28]

In the 2013 offseason, Ihenacho began turning heads, showing very good cover skills and run stopping abilities. In the first released depth chart, Ihenacho climbed all the way to the number two spot for strong safety, pushing Mike Adams for the starting job. In the Broncos' first 2013 preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, Ihenacho was in with the starters and led the team with 7 tackles, one being for a loss, and also had a forced fumble, which Rahim Moore recovered.

On September 5, 2013, Ihenacho started his first NFL game at strong safety against the Baltimore Ravens. He recorded 11 solo tackles and had one assisted tackle in Denver's 49-27 win.

On September 15, in the Broncos' win over the New York Giants, Ihenacho hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter and was carted off the field.[29]

On October 6, in a game against the Dallas Cowboys, Ihenacho recovered a fumble by Dez Bryant, forced by rookie teammate, Kayvon Webster.

Ihenacho started Super Bowl XLVIII for the Broncos and had 9 tackles in the Broncos' 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.[30]

Ihenacho was waived by the Broncos on August 30, 2014, before the start of the 2014 season.[31]

Washington RedskinsEdit

The Washington Redskins claimed Ihenacho off waivers on August 31, 2014.[32] He suffered a fracture in his left foot in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles.[33] He was placed on injured reserve the next day.[34]

The Redskins re-signed Ihenacho to a one-year contract on March 4, 2015.[35] By the end of training camp, he beat out Jeron Johnson for the starting strong safety position.[36] He was placed on injured reserve on September 15, 2015 after dislocating and fracturing his left wrist in the first game of the 2015 season.[37]

On March 9, 2016, Ihenacho re-signed with the Redskins on another one-year contract.[38]. He wasn't resigned after the 2016 season and became a free agent.

New York Giants Edit

On May 25, 2017, Ihenacho signed with the New York Giants.[39] He was placed on injured reserve on September 1, 2017 with a knee injury.[40] He was released on September 5, 2017.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Duke Ihenacho". San Jose State Spartans. Archived from the original on May 7, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  2. Curtis, Jake (October 24, 2008). "Nacho Brothers have appetite for defense". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Ihenacho brothers lead San Jose St. defense". AP. October 22, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  4. "Duke Ihenacho-Recrutiing".
  5. "San Jose St. 34, UC Davis 14". Associated Press. September 29, 2007. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  6. "San Jose State 2007 football schedule". ESPN. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  7. Feldman, Bruce (November 17, 2008). "Best brother acts of all time". ESPN. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  8. "San Jose State 2008 football schedule". ESPN. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  9. "San Jose State football schedule, 2009". ESPN. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  10. "MacIntyre formally introduced". Associated Press. December 17, 2009.
  11. "San Jose State 2010 football schedule". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  12. Wilner, John (September 20, 2010). "San Jose State football: Grading the Week". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  13. "San Jose State 2011 football schedule". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  14. Howell, Brian (October 2, 2011). "San Jose State snaps 13-game road losing streak". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on October 3, 2011.
  15. "San Jose St. gets best of Hawaii in turnover-filled affair". Associated Press. October 14, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  16. Faraudo, Jeff (October 15, 2011). "San Jose State overcomes six turnovers to beat Hawaii". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on December 7, 2011.
  17. "San Jose State's Duke Ihenacho and his blocked extra point return". YouTube. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  18. "Ihenacho, Johnson & Otten 1st Team All-WAC". San Jose State Spartans. December 5, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  19. "2012 San Jose State University Commencement Student-Athlete Participation". San Jose State Spartan. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  20. "Duke Ihenacho, SS". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  21. "Duke Ihenacho Draft Profile –". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  22. "Duke Ihenacho - San Jose State, SS : 2012 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  23. Jones, Lindsay (April 28, 2012). "Broncos agree to sign 12 undrafted rookies". Denver Post.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Duke Ihenacho game log, 2012". NFL. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  25. Associated Press (September 1, 2012). "Broncos Bring Back RB Johnson To Practice Squad". CBS Denver. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  26. Klis, Mike (September 30, 2012). "Broncos safety Quinton Carter goes on season-ending injured reserve Read more: Broncos safety Quinton Carter goes on season-ending injured reserve". Denver Post. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  27. Denver Post (November 13, 2012). "Broncos waive Duke Ihenacho; roster spot opens for D.J. Williams". Denver Post. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  28. "Denver Broncos - Transactions". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  29. "Denver Broncos Injuries: Ihenacho, Ayers, Clady hurt in Broncos' 41-23 win over Giants". Mile High Report. September 16, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  30. "Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos - February 2nd, 2014" (in en).
  31. Klis, Mike (August 30, 2014). "Duke Ihenacho, Kevin Vickerson among Broncos cuts". Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  32. Alper, Josh (August 31, 2014). "Duke Ihenacho claimed by Redskins". Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  33. Walker, Andrew (September 22, 2014). "DeAngelo Hall Out For Year With Ruptured Achilles". Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  34. Alper, Josh (September 22, 2014). "Duke Ihenacho joins DeAngelo Hall on IR". Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  35. Jones, Mike (March 4, 2015). "Redskins re-sign safety Duke Ihenacho". Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  36. Jones, Mike (June 10, 2015). "Johnson and Ihenacho lay the foundation for training-camp battle at strong safety". Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  37. McMillan, Keith. "Redskins sign cornerback Will Blackmon, place Duke Ihenacho on IR". Washington Post. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  38. Czarda, Stephen (March 9, 2016). "Redskins Re-Sign Safety Duke Ihenacho". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  39. Eisen, Michael (May 25, 2017). "Giants add defensive depth with DE Devin Taylor, Safety Duke Ihenacho".
  40. Eisen, Michael (September 1, 2017). "New York Giants make first round of roster cuts".

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