He's like a man among boys, said Dean. He probably one of the strongest kids I've ever coached in terms of weight room performance and explosiveness off the ball.
Even Opara admits that on occasion his game can be too much for opponents to handle. I can be pretty dominant at times, said Opara, who lists his athleticism, footwork and upper body among his strengths.
His first step is awesome, said Dean. He's incredibly quick off the ball. There were about three coaches out here checking him out recently and they were all talking about how his first step is amazing.
Opara, who had been on many scouts' radars for quite some time, finally broke through a little over a month ago, receiving his first scholarship offer from Maryland.
It came out of nowhere, said Opara of the offer. They had never sent me an email, nothing. All the sudden it was spring break and my coach texted me and said Maryland called and they were asking some questions. A week after spring break he told me I had an offer from Maryland.
Since Maryland's offer in March, Opara has been on a roll, picking up offers from the likes of Temple, UCF, Georgia State, West Virginia and Connecticut. But according to the standout lineman, he will always remember his first offer.
I talked to Coach [Lyndon] Johnson and Coach [Randy] Edsall and they said they wanted to make me one of their main priorities and that they want to get me in to play at the University of Maryland, said Opara. I felt so relieved and so happy. Maryland, playing in the ACC, that's a big time offer. So I was really shocked. To hear their voices talking to me and telling me they really like my film and they think I'm a really good player, it all made a great impression.
In terms of making the trip to College Park, Opara made it clear that he plans to make the trip to Maryland this July, while in town for a wedding. I'm going to be around so I definitely want to stop by and see Maryland, he said.
Despite Opara's dominance at the high school level, his coach feels the lineman's technique is going to need some refinement before he reaches the next level. When you get a kid that big and strong in high school football they don't have to rely much on technique because they just use their brute strength, said Dean. When he gets to the next level they're all going to be big enough and good enough that he's going have to learn a little more technique.
Until then, however, Opara is focused on redeeming himself after a 0-10 campaign this past season.
Going into his senior year he's really dedicated himself to working hard for the senior class, said Dean. This is the hardest he's ever worked going into the spring.
I'm playing with my brothers for the final time, said Opara. I want to make a statement every game and make sure everyone knows who the best defensive tackle in Florida is.