The class of 2016 hadn’t even been signed and sealed yet, but that didn’t stop the Maryland staff from making more inroads into the 2017 crop. On Feb. 2, the eve of National Signing Day, the Terps extended an offer to local defensive tackle Victor Dimukeje (Boys’ Latin/Towson, Md.), a 6-foot, 250-pounder who figures to procure his share of FBS scholarships before it’s all said and done.
“I was shocked by the Maryland offer, to be honest,” said Dimukeje, who added his first offer from Toledo in January. “I didn’t expect it at all. I didn’t know what to say, but it felt great.
“What happened was Coach [Mike] London direct-messaged me on Twitter and told me to call him. He told me I have some of the best film he’s watched of a defensive lineman, and he thinks I can be one of the best D-linemen in the country. He said he’d love for me to be part of the Terps’ program. So I was really just kind of in shock, but also really happy. It’s great to get an offer from your hometown school.”
Dimukeje knew several of Maryland’s former staff members well, but he’d had only cursory introductions to the Terps’ new regime under head coach D.J. Durkin. London was the first UMD assistant he’d spoken to extensively.
“I really liked Coach London. He’s a really nice person and a good coach,” Dimukeje said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know him. But, like, a lot of the new Maryland coaches are trying to get to know me. Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim] came by the school before, and a bunch of them follow me on Twitter. I’m supposed to be talking to Coach Durkin soon too. It’s like the Maryland coaches are really trying to get to know the local guys well, which is great.”
The Boys’ Latin prospect has been in College Park, Md., a couple times before and should be returning for a junior day in February. He was last at UMD for its 2015 game against USF, and before that attended a Maryland summer camp.
“I liked it over there. It’s a really nice campus and a good atmosphere,” Dimukeje said. “But I’ve heard they’ve got some big changes coming with the new facilities. Those sound really nice and I can’t wait to see them.”
Dimukeje said Maryland’s academics ring true as well. He mentioned that both of his parents stress education first, and the tackle’s mainly looking at schools with standout reputations.
“I definitely want to find a school with a good major in either engineering or medicine,” Dimukeje said. “I know Maryland is a very good school in general.”
Besides UMD, Dimukeje has been hearing from Penn State, Wake Forest, Duke, UVA and Ole Miss. The only campuses he’s seen thus far are Maryland’s and Toledo’s, but he plans to journey out to PSU; UVA; Duke; Wake; and others this offseason.
“Penn State is definitely an offer I’d love to get, and Duke and Wake would be big too. Those are some of the schools in touch with me the most and also have really good academics,” Dimukeje said. “And Maryland, that was a big offer for me too. It’s always good to get an offer from the hometown school, and I’d love to stay home for college so my parents could see me play.”
Of course, Dimukeje meant his “adopted” hometown school. He was actually born in Nigeria; moved to the U.S. when he was three; headed back to Nigeria at age five; and then came state-side for good at age eight.
“Basically what happened was my parents wanted me to learn about the Nigerian culture and about the country, so they took me back there at a young age,” said Dimukeje, whose mother is a nurse and father a business man. “But then they brought me back to the United States because it’s a better education and opportunity here. It was good for me seeing Nigeria, though. It was a good cultural experience for me.”
Soon after landing in the U.S. for good, Dimukeje immersed himself in the abundant American athletic culture. Inevitably, he learned about football and decided to give the game a try at the urging of his middle school friends.
A natural given his size and instincts, Dimukeje developed fairly rapidly. And by the time he reached high school, at New Town in Owings Mills, Md., he earned a varsity spot.
Dimukeje spent one year at the public school before shifting crosstown to Boys’ Latin, a private institution in the MIAA B-Conference. The budding tackle started both ways for the Lakers during each of the last two seasons, earning all-conference honors in 2015-16.
“I faced a lot of double and triple teams this year, but I felt I did pretty good. I did a good job coming off the ball and keeping guys off my teammates,” said Dimukeje, who had 10 sacks. “But there’s still a lot I’m working on. I have to keep working, keep improving and just show that I can be a dominant player every down.”