Richard Jibunor is a special athlete who shows flashes of elite ability.
The four-star pass rusher arrived in America two years ago, entering a foreign student-exchange program after escaping a religious war crisis in his home country of Nigeria. He had only read about football before arriving in the U.S.
Fast-forward to March 26, 2017, when Jibunor won the Defensive Line MVP at The Opening Regional in Atlanta, Georgia. Two days later Notre Dame offered a scholarship.
On Thursday of last week, Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston stopped by Jibunor’s school to speak with the head football coach of Athens Christian.
“It was awesome,” Jibunor said. “He came to my school and he talked to my coach. He talked a lot and he had a lot to offer. I’m excited about the plans they have for me and how interested they are in me. I think they’re a really good team to give a shot to. They’re one of my top schools.”
Notre Dame’s top priority in Jibunor’s recruitment is getting the freakishly talented junior to South Bend.
“I don’t know right now,” Jibunor said. “Right now, I’m just trying to look at my schedule and find out when I can fit in a visit to Notre Dame. I don’t really know yet.”
Alabama, Auburn, Iowa State, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and many more programs are pushing for Jibunor’s signature. The emerging star is still in the beginning stages of his recruitment, meaning he’s doing his homework.
So far, he’s impressed with Notre Dame.
“Every school recruiting me is recruiting me really hard right now,” Jibunor said. “I know Notre Dame is one of the schools that are sticking out. I don’t really have my top schools yet because I really want to find out who wants me the most, who really can give me what I need and Notre Dame is definitely in the picture.”
While Jibunor’s versatility is tapped into through a variety of position fits within his current program, the Irish have one position in mind for him.
“They see me as a defensive end,” Jibunor said. “They see me as a good pass rusher and that’s how they would use me. Definitely, I’ll play special teams, any team I go to.”
Jibunor has been researching not only the university but also coach Mike Elko’s defense .
“They main thing I’ve been checking is the academics along with the sports and if they have a good history,” Jibunor said. “I know it’s a good team and I’m checking on that. I told my coach that with all the schools I’m looking at right now, (Notre Dame) really has a good program. Notre Dame, I really like their style of defense, they would blitz me all the time. When I use my speed, after I’ve gained weight and gotten stronger, I’ll be able to do a lot.”
With 15 schools to look into and several visits to be made, Jibunor is gaining an idea of when his commitment should take place.
“I’m going to commit sometime before my senior season,” Jibunor said. “I really want to look into every school. Whichever school I commit to, I want to stay true to them.”
Jibunor would be flying solo to South Bend this summer if he makes that trip.
“My parents know a lot about Notre Dame,” Jibunor said. “They don’t want to come with me, they just want me to go alone and get the feel of everywhere I visit by myself to see if it’s the place I want to spend the next three or four years in.”