RECRUITING: Maryland LB likes OU early

Gaithersburg, Marlyand linebacker Bani Gbadyu talks about his journey to the United States, what he's looking for in a school and interest in Oklahoma.


Bani Gbadyu is one of the most interesting stories in prep football this year. Coming into this year, Gbadyu is one of the best linebackers in the country despite the fact he has only been in this country since 1997.

"I was born in Liberia and came to the United State in 1997," said Gbadyu. "When I came to the U.S. my dad wanted me to play soccer. When I told him that I wanted to play football he was little disappointed, but when he saw that I had a talent for it he became happy for me. He still doesn't understand the game really, but he can tell I am good at it. When he learned that I am going to get a free education because of football, he accepted the fact that I am going to play football."

Gbadyu didn't start playing football until his 9th grade year in high school, and the game took some getting used to.

"I watched the game on TV and my brother was a good player, but the game seemed complicated for a long time," said Gbadyu. "When I started playing I didn't know anything about the game, but I knew that I had to bring the guy with the ball down to the ground. I didn't have any technique, but I could run and I found ways to make tackles. My coaches were great and I owe all my success to them. They worked with me day and night and I had a million questions for them all the time. Everything I accomplish in football, I will owe to them."

Gbadyu, who will go into his senior year as a three-year starter, plays outside linebacker and strong safety.

"When I started as a sophomore the game was a blur for me," said Gbadyu. "Last year the game started to slow down for me. I began to learn more and more about the game. I expect my senior year to just blow up and I expect to have a great year."

Last season, Gbadyu finished with 78 tackles, 15 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. On offense, Gbadyu rushed 36 times for 267 yards and three touchdowns.

Gbadyu can bench 275 pounds, squats 405 and he has a 41-inch vertical jump. He also runs the 100M (11.4), 200M (23.7), 4X100 (second and third leg) and 4X400 (second and third leg).

Gbadyu went to the USC camp his sophomore year and was disappointed that he didn't pull a scholarship offer from the Trojans. He recently went to the Elite Combine in New Jersey where he was one of the most impressive athletes at the workout.

This weekend he will go to the N.C. State combine. Gbadyu has also been to the Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland and North Carolina junior days. He has been offered by 12 schools at this point.

"I am just looking and learning about every school," said Gdadyu. "The recruiting process is great because all these great schools and coaches want you, and it is by the grace of God that these great schools want me. I have been offered by Oklahoma, Marshall, UConn, Duke, Indiana, Syracuse, Penn State, Clemson, Akron, James Madison and Nebraska. I am expecting offers from Michigan State, LSU and Maryland soon."

What are his thoughts on Oklahoma?

"Oklahoma is a great program. They have been in three out of the last five National Championship games," said Gbadyu. "I have to thank God that a great program like Oklahoma offered me, and the fact they pulled the trigger and offered me means a lot to me. This is a school that is going to be in my recruiting to the very end because they know how to win. If you want to play for a school that knows how to win you are going to look at Oklahoma. They are at a place where every other school wants to be at — they are playing for National Championships."

What is Gbadyu looking for in recruiting?

"I am looking for a team that will get me on the field early," said Gbadyu. "Playing time and academics are the most important things for me in recruiting. I am also looking for a coaching staff that takes care of their players. Those are the major factors for me right now. Traveling or leaving home is not going to be a big issue. I will need to talk that over with my parents and it will be a consideration, but I don't think it is going to be an issue."

Gbadyu has his GPA and just recently took his test.

Editors Note: Bani, his father and brother left Liberia in 1997 because the country was in war. Bani says he has lost many family members because of the war and that it is only by the grace of God that he and his immediate family are alive. Bani has not seen his mother since he came to the US in 1997.

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