While most prospects are able to use their junior season to jumpstart their recruitment heading into the summer and their senior year, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Okafor experienced almost the opposite effect.
“I was kind of disappointed with how my junior year went,” he said. “Our team didn’t do as well as I thought we would, and I ended up playing offensive tackle more than defensive end.
“I played basketball during the summer instead of doing football workouts, so maybe that had something to do with it. I only played three games at defensive end, and I had about 30 tackles and two sacks.”
Okafor, who was a first team all-district selection as a sophomore, says he has put last season behind him and is looking forward to redeeming himself over the course of the next year.
“During the season, I just kept telling myself to keep my cool and be ready to get after it next year,” he said. “I played basketball for school this season, but now I’m done with basketball for good. It’s going to be all football from here on out.”
Even though Okafor says his heart is set on football from here on out, he has still been able to apply some things from the basketball court to the football field.
“Playing basketball has helped keep me in better shape,” he said. “After football practice I can go run ten 100’s and not be tired at all. It has also helped with my footwork, quickness, and explosiveness off the ball.”
While Okafor was not pleased with the outcome of his junior season he did enough to capture the attention of a few different schools.
“I only have offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and California right now,” he said. “But I’m also being recruited and getting letters from LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, and UCLA. I’ve been emailing with coaches from Oklahoma State, Baylor, Florida, and California.”
Okafor made a visit to Oklahoma State earlier this spring, and he hopes to make visits to LSU, Florida, Georgia, UCLA, and California before the summer is over. After that it will be a waiting game because the standout defensive end does not plan to make any other decisions for a while.
“I’m open to everyone right now, and I’m going to narrow my list down on signing day then I’m going to sign after signing day,” he said. “I want to see the players that all of the different schools are bringing in so I can determine which one will be the best fit for me in terms of playing time.
“Getting playing time as a freshman is going to be important to me, along with building good relationships with the coaches and just feeling comfortable with the school in general.”
One of the schools that seems likely to be on Okafor’s mind past signing day is LSU.
“I spoke to a coach from LSU during last season, but I still get about four or five letters a day from them,” he said. “I’m not really sure why, but I’ve been liking LSU since I was younger. When they won the national championship that really opened my eyes to them. I like Louisiana too, and my mom is actually from Opelousas.”
LSU’s success in the Houston area and on the recruiting trail in general is another factor that weighs on Okafor’s mind.
“I know they’ve always had a lot of guys from Houston on their team, and I know they got Russell Shepard and Michael Brockers last year,” Okafor continued. “Michael actually played in the same district as me, and we kind of know each other just from playing against each other the last few years. I also met Craig Loston last year at the Texas A&M-Miami game. I know LSU had kind of a rough year last year, but all those guys coming in are going to turn them around.”