The color purple is ubiquitous in Minnesota.
Whether it’s the Minnesota Vikings, the legacy of Prince, or the rhododendron blooms in April, all are awash in the distinguished, royal hue.
But for Laurie Obiazor of Eden Prairie, purple was never a shade she found herself embracing.
That has all changed for the mother of four college students; two of whom are Power Five football players who developed their skills on athletic fields across Eden Prairie.
Obiazor’s eldest son, Namdi, is a standout junior linebacker at Texas Christian University (TCU), while her youngest, Chiddi, is a freshman defensive end at Kansas State.
Purple is the color for both schools, which makes Obiazor’s fashion choices an automatic on college football Saturdays.
“I love the fact that they’re both purple,” she said. “I never owned a single piece of purple, and now I rock that purple from head to toe.”
One might have assumed she and her husband, Anthony, would have felt a touch of ambivalence last Saturday when the Horned Frogs traveled to Manhattan, Kansas, to take on the Wildcats. The game marked the first time Namdi and Chiddi, two and a half years apart in age, participated on the same field in organized athletic competition.
But as the Obiazors looked forward to the game, they were able to see the bigger picture, recognizing the event for what it truly was: a reason to celebrate.
“I’ve already won before the game has even started just by having both my boys have the opportunity to go to school at Kansas State and TCU,” Laurie said last week, a few days prior to the big matchup. “Two top schools academically and, also for them, to have the privilege of playing for TCU and K-State.”
How it began
For the Obiazor brothers, the journey to college football’s grand stages originated in Eden Prairie.
Both Namdi, 21, and Chiddi, 19, learned the fundamentals through the Eden Prairie Football Association. And they came of age in one of the state’s premiere high school programs, under Eden Prairie head coach Mike Grant.
“They’re obviously two kids that were a big part of our program and part of a lot of success,” Grant said. “We’re just happy that they’re playing at that high level. That’s great.”
After high school, Namdi spent two years at Iowa Western Community College, where he grew from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-3. He also made the transition from a high school safety to a college linebacker, earning JUCO All-American honors in his sophomore season.
His success caught the eye of incoming TCU head coach Sonny Dykes. And in January 2022, Namdi was offered a scholarship to play in Fort Worth.
His timing could not have been better.
The Horned Frogs went undefeated during the regular season last year. Despite an overtime loss – to Kansas State, no less – in a thriller at the Big 12 Championship game, TCU reached the College Football Playoff.
The Horned Frogs defeated Michigan to advance to the National Championship game, where they were trounced by top-ranked Georgia.
But their magical run captured the imagination of college football. And Namdi found himself playing in all 15 games, registering 49 tackles on the season.
This year, Namdi has started every game for the Horned Frogs and leads the TCU defense with 65 tackles and counting.
“The team is really close to each other,” Namdi said on the phone from Fort Worth. “I can really say those are like my brothers on the team. We’ve all worked for the same goal and I can truly say that everybody feels that way.”
As for his actual brother, playing in his first year at Kansas State, Chiddi was a dual-sport athlete at Eden Prairie High School, competing in both football and basketball.
In the fall of last year, during his senior season at Eden Prairie, Chiddi announced his intention to attend Kansas State. He graduated early and moved to Manhattan in January, eager to get a jump start on his collegiate career.
“It’s been going pretty good,” Chiddi said via phone last week. “I think coming last spring has been a big help for sure. Getting all the plays down and putting on all the extra weight and getting ready for the season.”
Through workouts and nutrition, Chiddi has added 30 pounds to his frame while increasing his body fat by only one percent. At 6-foot-6 and 263 pounds, his speed has actually increased along with his vertical jump.
And while he’s seen some playing time as a freshman, Chiddi has embraced the demanding routine that comes with playing for a Power Five program.
“Coach Klieman has a great culture here,” he said. “And our core values definitely are in place and I feel that our team truly believes in those and lives them out every day. And we have a great culture in the locker room as well.”
The leap from high school football to the collegiate level is daunting for just about any athlete. For Chiddi, it helps having an older brother who can share advice from experience.
“He has gone through the college process and recruiting, even going through high school. And I’ve given him advice on things that I’ve been through,” Namdi said. “I’m the older brother and I’ve experienced those things before.”
Chiddi said that as soon as he committed to Kansas State, Namdi marked Oct. 14, 2023, on the calendar. The date TCU would travel to Kansas State, determined to avenge their loss to the Wildcats in last year’s Big 12 Championship game.
“He’s just been giving me big brother-little brother trash talk,” Chiddi said with a laugh. “He says he’s gonna get his ‘get-back’ for the Big 12, all that type of stuff.”
But for all the posturing, the brothers are realizing a long-sought goal; one set years ago while playing in their backyard, and on the rec fields of Eden Prairie youth leagues.
“This has always been a dream for each other,” Chiddi said. “We’ve always dreamed about being on the same team, but playing against each other is also gonna be awesome.
“We’re just blessed to have this opportunity to be playing at the Division 1 level and I’m blessed to be playing against my brother.”
Gameday in the Big 12
Anthony and Laurie Obiazor made the trip down to Manhattan this past Saturday, along with numerous family and friends, to watch their sons compete against one another for the very first time.
Their oldest daughter, Isy, flew in from Las Vegas to cheer on her brothers. Isy attends UNLV along with her sister – and Namdi’s twin – Nneka. Nneka plays basketball for the Rebels as well.
As their standard allotment, players on both teams receive four game tickets for friends and family, which led to the inevitable question: from which section of the stadium would the Obiazor family be watching, TCU or Kansas State?
“I’ve gotten to see Namdi play all last year, and then this year,” Laurie said before the game. “But I have not gone to K-State nor seen Chiddi play yet, so I will be in the K-State section, overjoyed and so full of pride.”
As for the game, it wasn’t much of a contest.
Kansas State throttled TCU 41-3, putting up 21 first-quarter points and generating 587 yards in total offense, with 343 yards rushing.
There was one bright spot for the Horned Frogs, as Namdi led the TCU defense with 13 tackles and a sack, providing reasons to cheer for both sides of the field.
“It was so much fun to attend,” Laurie said via text message after the game. “I was so proud and excited for both of them regardless of the score or outcome.”
And you can be certain: Mom was rocking the purple.
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