When Ben Ijalana first set foot on Villanova’s campus, there was little hype or fanfare for the Wildcats’ left tackle. His commitment wasn’t broadcast live on ESPN, and there were no “stars” on his resume. Ijalana came to Villanova with thoughts of playing football and getting an education — and not much else.
The criminal justice major had started for the Wildcats for all four of his years on the Main Line, but the NFL didn’t become a consideration until his sophomore year, when his offensive line coach pulled him aside and told him he could make it. That was apparently the motivation he needed to become one of the nation’s best linemen, evidenced by being only FCS player named to the Outland Trophy watchlist.