Hillgrove (Powder Springs, Ga.) receiver Chingoziem Okonkwo landed his first power-five offer from hometown Georgia Tech earlier in March, and a couple weeks later his second major look – and first of the Big Ten variety – came in from Maryland. Terps’ area-recruiter Walt Bell handed the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Okonkwo the verbal March 21.
“I thought it was a huge offer, because Coach Walt Bell has been down to my school multiple times and has been telling me [the Terps’ staff] was interested in me. So to finally get the offer when I talked to him [March 21] was really exciting to me,” said Okonkwo, who also has offers from Mercer, Marshall, Navy and a couple others of that ilk. “I don’t really know much about Maryland, but it was exciting to get my first Big Ten offer from them.”
The 2018 wideout Okonkwo said he’s known Bell since the beginning of his sophomore year, which is when Maryland’s offensive coordinator first trekked through Hillgrove. The two had stayed in touch off and on since then, but the communication started to ratchet up in recent weeks.
“The first time I saw Coach Bell it was just like an introductory meeting. But then after my junior year he was like, ‘OK, we’re going to start recruiting you and you're what we’re looking for in a receiver.’ And now that it’s the spring, he said he wanted to offer me. We’ll be in touch more now moving forward,” said Okonkwo, who mentioned he’s being recruited exclusively for receiver and not any other position. “But when he came to our school, he really paid attention to the guys and really made sure he stayed around and watched. He wasn’t really allowed to talk to [the recruits], but some coaches will just stop by and leave, and Coach Bell really watched and took interest. And just from talking to him, I can tell he’s a caring coach and a good guy. I look forward to getting to know him more in the future.”
The Powder Springs resident reiterated that he wasn’t privy to much about UMD beyond what Bell imparted (which wasn’t much, evidently). But Okonkwo plans to research the university more now that the offer’s in tow.
“My dad’s friend’s son went there, I know that (laughs),” Okonkwo said. “But I don’t really know much else besides it’s in the Big Ten. I am interested in them, though, and I’ll be looking into them more. I’ll try to take a visit up there sometime too.”
Okonkwo isn’t sure when said College Park, Md., foray will be. In the meantime, he’s planning out trips to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and a return visit to Georgia. Okonkwo had previously been to Georgia Tech, Florida, UCF, Auburn, Troy, Tennessee, North Carolina and Duke, in addition to UGA.
“But I really don’t have any dream offers. I didn’t grow up a fan of any one school, so dream offers won’t dictate my recruitment,” said Okonkwo, who mentioned he’s in touch with coaches from Mississippi State “a lot,” plus staffers from Ole Miss; Georgia Southern; Georgia; and Georgia State. “Location really doesn’t matter to me either, although I guess it would be beneficial to be close to my family. But for me, personally, I’m more concerned with fitting in with the players and coaches, getting a good education, and finding a program where I can play and develop.”
Okonkwo said he’d like to finalize his recruitment towards the end of his senior season. He wants to take at least a couple official visits before deciding on a future destination.
The Hillgrove wideout is coming off a season where he recorded 50 catches for over 800 yards and 12 touchdowns.