Top Texas Tackle: Franklin Okam

We have profiled a veritable cornucopia of offensive linemen in this 2004 class, but Stanford has every bit the spirited search on for the top defensive linemen in America. The Texas talent at the top of the DT pool is 300-pound Lake Highlands standout Franklin Okam, who has the intellect to match his lofty football reputation...

So you say you want that big, nasty defensive tackle in this class?  Well, who doesn't.  DTs may be the toughest position to recruit in all of college football, and Stanford certainly has gone through its share of difficulties.  After landing Babatunde Oshinowo in the 2001 class, the Cardinal have yet to find another big bodied tackle since.  Either admissions decisions haven't gone as hoped, or final recruiting decisions have gone the other direction.

But the Cardinal staff has in its cross-hairs a gem of a DT in the 2004 class who fits the Stanford profile to a 'T.'  As a football player, he carries a big frame (6'4" and 300 pounds) but moves with 4.9 speed.  He plays with tremendous power and has a non-stop motor, producing first team all-area honors in Dallas for a junior season with 60 solo tackles, six sacks and 20 hurries.  As a student, he carries a GPA in the high 90's at one of the top public high schools in Texas, currently ranked #6 in his class and is very well composed.  Franklin Okam of Lake Highlands High School (Dallas, TX) is one of the most sought after defensive tackles in the country, and Stanford has had its eye on him for some time.  Three weeks ago, they stepped up to the plate when head coach Buddy Teevens offered Okam a scholarship on the phone.

"It was a little surprising at that moment, but they had been showing a good deal of interest lately," Okam remembers.  "I'm really looking for strong academics in my school - it's pretty high on my list.  My important criterion in choosing will be my major, how good their record is and the strength of their recruiting classes."

Okam has already raked in an impressive offer list at this early stage in the recruiting process: Texas, Texas A&M, Colorado, Oklahoma, LSU, Nebraska, Kansas State, Arkansas and Stanford.  A&M was the first to make the pledge, with Oklahoma and Kansas State next to follow.  The Cardinal may have not been the earliest to the party, but Okam says today that they are in his "top five or six."

He predicts that Texas and Texas A&M are the two schools about which he feels the strongest today, but maintains that distance will not be a factor in his recruitment.  He does however note that his mother likes the idea of his staying close to home.  Proximity has gained the two in-state programs another advantage with facile unofficial visits.  Okam saw the Longhorns' campus when he attended the Texas Relays in Austin earlier this month, and traveled to College Station to see the Aggies in their spring game.  "It's nice to get a personal view of the school, beyond the pictures and what you hear," he notes.

Other unofficial visits and summer camps are unclear at this point, as Okam watches the offers and invitations pour in.  One school yet to offer that nonetheless has his attention is Notre Dame.  "I just talked with Tyrone Willingham and he said that they will take time to evaluate players before they make their offers.  But I'm definitely high on their list."

That list is morphing daily, but Okam does not yet have an inclination to stop it from growing.  His goal is to narrow down the list before his senior season, and then shut down his recruiting activities.  "I don't want [recruiting] distracting me during my senior season.  I know that there will be a lot of phone calls from coaches and requests for visits," he forecasts.  But Okam wants to hold off on those visits and the final stages of his recruitment until after the season.  This is one journey that looks to be going the distance, all the way through the winter.

On the topic of another sport, strain your brain for a moment and envision this 6'4" 300-pound behemoth on the hardwood.  That's right, Okam plays basketball in the off-season, and not just for his high school.  He is playing on the AAU circuit this summer with the Texas Flight squad, which will travel not just within the state but also nationally.  Though undersized by classical standards, Okam plays power forward and center.  He may have the height of a guard, but he plays big and nasty.  "I love to play physical and really take it to the other team," he says.  

Track is another love of the Lake Highlands junior, where he throws the shotput and discuss (personal best of 151' 9").  Balancing the different sports means balancing his weight, which moves up and down with the seasons.  Okam says he tipped the scales at 305 pounds during the football season this fall, but trimmed to 285 during the regular hoops season.  Now he registers an even 300 pounds as he moves deep into his track season.

On another note, Okam is scheduled to take the SAT for the first time in June.  And his stated personal goal for the standardized test?

"Something over 1400."

Just what Stanford wanted to hear.

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