Coach: No Need to Baby Balogun

Recruiting anymore is a gamble. A player may or may not live up to his hype. At the same time, coaches have to consider a player's character more than ever. Oklahoma is getting someone who is good on both accounts in Mike Balogun says his junior college coach Mark Duda.

When Mike Balogun steps on the Oklahoma campus, he won't be a curious 21-year-old junior looking for a good time.

He'll be a determined 24-year-old father looking to make a name for himself and to make a better life for his family.

"He's not someone who the Oklahoma coaches are going to have to baby," said Mark Duda, head coach at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Penn., where Balogun has played the last two seasons. "He's a very mature young man because he's already been through plenty."

Balogun (6-3, 250) is a three-star prospect at linebacker, but football hasn't been his life.

Balogun didn't go to college right out of high school in Maryland.

"He had a daughter," Duda said. "He stayed home and took care of her. Then a couple years ago, someone told me about him. We asked him if he thought he was ready to play.

"Turns out he was and it worked out great for both of us."

Balogun played strongside linebacker for Lackawanna and finished 2007 with 60 tackles, including 47 solo, in just seven games. He had 9.5 tackles for losses, a sack and an interception.

He was named the Northeast Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

"He's the best linebacker we've put out and we've had some pretty good ones," Duda said.

Duda said Balogun's got the rare combo of size and speed (the coach said Balogun runs a 4.6 "on a bad day").

"He can play the run, rush the passer or cover," Balogun said. "He's got tremendous quickness to the ball.

Duda said Balogun can play any of the linebacker positions.

"He played outside for us, but he's a good fit for inside too," he said.

And off the field, Balogun won't be a problem, Duda added.

"He's 24," Duda said. "That makes a big difference."

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