Kelly didn’t quite oblige. Instead, Kelly talked to Ogundeji, a three-star defensive end from Walled Lake, Mich., about areas for improvement. First, Kelly spoke on academics. Then he came around to football technique.
Ogundeji walked away from the conversation surprised. He also realized Notre Dame was likely the perfect college destination. After thinking it over for a couple weeks, Ogundeji gave Kelly a verbal commitment Thursday during a ceremony in front of family and friends.
Candidness, it turns out, goes a long way with the Ogundeji family.
“Honesty is the No. 1 thing I loved,” Ogundeji said. “This recruiting process was long. I had some ups and downs, a de-commitment. But one thing I learned about it is you’re gonna get some people that are gonna tell you things that aren’t true. With Notre Dame, everything they told me was honest. I took that to heart.”
He originally committed to Western Michigan back in the winter, only to walk back from that pledge in May with plans to explore other options.
More offers rolled in from MAC programs. Cal, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Rutgers eventually came calling. Notre Dame threw its hat into the ring in late June after working out the 6-foot-4, 215-pound prospect in person at camp.
Defensive line coach Keith Gilmore and Kelly offered more doses of honesty during those sessions.
“I’ve never really had a pass rush technique or a pass rush move,” Ogundeji said. “I’ve been working in the offseason on pass rushing and using my hands. I’ve been raw in the run defense but I can see myself building into a bigger person, a bigger, stronger player. Just using my hands more often, more technique. You can never go wrong with more technique.”
Ogundeji followed up with Gilmore during an unofficial visit just a few days after landing an offer. He did so again Thursday night after revealing his commitment. Ogundeji expects that relationship to keep growing over time.
“He was excited,” Ogundeji said. “That’s the one thing I love about him. He was excited. Coach Kelly, I talked to him and he was telling me some great things I can do. He told me to get myself better and do great things. It was great to talk with both of them.”
Shortly after announcing his commitment, Ogundeji took a minute to think about how closeness with his future coaches might come in handy down the road.
Ogundeji hopes they help foster growth and development at the college level. He’s yet to set specific goals for his college career, but there are some things Notre Dame brings to the table both on and off the field.
“I don’t really have things to accomplish,” Ogundeji said. “I just want to be a winner. When I look at the program, success is about what you can accomplish in life. I think I’m going to a team that can help me with that. I want to win in life. I want to win on the football field. I want to win against the player across from me. I feel like they can make me do that. That’s my biggest thing, winning. I’m a competitor. I compete at everything I do.”