There is no longer any question in the mind of Oshane Ximines about whether he measures up.
Nor will there be one Saturday, despite the fact that Old Dominion’s 6-3, 240-pound redshirt freshman defensive end will be giving away some 50 pounds to the linemen across from him, when the Monarchs host Appalachian State.
It is a far cry from just six years ago, when as a freshman at Hertford County High School – located not far from his hometown of Ahoskie, N.C. – he was a third-string junior varsity safety.
And stood 5-8 and 140 pounds.
And didn’t play a single down.
Genetics, not to mention countless hours in the weight room, have brought him to where he is today. He leads ODU (2-1) with four tackles for loss, two sacks and four hurries heading into the game against the Mountaineers (1-1).
Every now and then, he said he allows himself to think about his unlikely journey. And he can only shake his head.
“It’s just crazy,” said Ximines, who is of Jamaican descent. “I went from like a third-string safety on the JV team to a starting defensive end on varsity, in one summer.”
Even his teammates were stunned.
“Everybody is like, ‘What is he eating?’” he said with a laugh.
A growth spurt helped. By his sophomore year he was 6-2 and 180 pounds. By his junior year he had 14 sacks – part of a career that saw him record 35 sacks and 145 tackles – and the recruiters began making the trek to Ahoskie, a town of 5,000 in the northeastern corner of North Carolina.
It is a town that produced Timmy Newsome, a fullback with the Dallas Cowboys from 1980-88. And now, here was a new prodigy.
Cincinnati offered Ximines a scholarship. So too did East Carolina, Appalachian State and Charlotte, in addition to Old Dominion. He committed to the Monarchs in June 2013, and stuck to that commitment despite a late push by Marshall.
“It was a young program,” he said. “It was still growing. I had a chance to make an impact here.”
Twenty-two other recruits signed with ODU in February 2014, including quarterback Shuler Bentley, a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in South Carolina, and running back Ray Lawry.
“This is our best class,” offensive coordinator Brian Scott told the Virginian-Pilot at the time. “It’s not even close.”
Bentley and Lawry both start for the Monarchs now; Lawry, in fact, is the nation’s fourth-leading rusher, with 453 yards.
Ximines redshirted last season, and while doing so added another 30 pounds of muscle.
“I lifted four times a week, and once at nighttime, on my own,” he said.
That has led to a strong season, and a season of discovery. He once said that he most wanted to face North Carolina State, and he was afforded that opportunity last week, when the Wolfpack hung a 38-14 defeat on the Monarchs.
“Just coming from North Carolina, they’re a school that overlooked me,” he said. “I just (thought) it would be fun to see what they’re all about, see how their kids play. … I learned a lot about myself from that game.”
Specifically, he said, “I learned I’m competitive. I hate losing. It doesn’t matter what stage it is or who we’re playing against, I always want to win.”
No, he no longer wonders whether he measures up. That’s not even a question anymore.
Above: Oshane Ximines may have been overlooked when he was younger but he can’t be avoided now. (Courtesy Andrew Weber)