One of the first and most exciting athletes we profiled for you in this 2004 Stanford football recruiting class was Chris Ogbonnaya of the renowned Strake Jesuit program in Houston, Texas. Strake his known for every bit of their academics as their football program, and as such it hasn't been surprising that Stanford has recruited its fertile grounds the last several years.
And as familiar as Strake has been for Stanford recruiting these last few years, so too have been a couple of recruiting foes for national and Texas talents. It all comes to collide again this year as Stanford is pushing hard for WR/DB Chris Ogbonnaya. There is a rapidly growing host of schools from all corners of the nation pushing for the versatile playmaking athlete, with 24 full offers in hand already. Ogbonnaya lists the schools who have offered that stick out the most as Syracuse, Arizona State, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, LSU, Stanford, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and UCLA.
But Stanford coaches and fans alike are paying keen attention to the familiar recruiting foes of Texas and Notre Dame. The former offered the 6'1" Houston standout early and have long been considered the prohibitive favorite, while the latter is mysteriously late in the offer game. Ogbonnaya talked with us about both, and where he is in the recruiting process.
"I went to the Texas one-day camp [June 1] and it went well," the Lone Star rising senior begins. "I had been sick, though, and I didn't perform like I know I could have. But I had the chance to run into recruits how have already been offered or hoped for offers [from Texas]. It was cool. Several of them did work me a little, but there wasn't really any pressure."
Though there has been some perceived pressure on Obgonnaya with this Longhorn recruitment, given their hot start to the recruiting year. They nabbed three early commitments from fantastic in-state receivers, all ranked as top 20 Texas talents in by Stacey Dean of TheInsiders. While that would seem to be a bountiful haul, fit to satiate any top 25 program for an entire recruiting class, UT was not done yet. They wanted to land exactly four wideouts in this class, anticipating the void that will be left when Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson and Sloan Thomas all finish their careers with the 2003 season. Ogbonnaya was thought to be the leading candidate for that last spot, even though his coaches and friends all know that the Longhorns are rounding up talent in a hurry.
"I'm going to take my time with my decision," he comments. "I'm not going to make a commitment soon unless I'm totally comfortable with it. I'm not feeling any pressure right now."
But soon after I spoke with Ogbonnaya, a somewhat unexpected development transpired in Texas. The Horns landed receiver #4 yesterday as Austin's own Myron Hardy gave his commitment to his hometown school. That would appear to complete UT's recruiting at the position this year, unless they want to put Ogbonnaya elsewhere on the field. However you slice it, though, four WRs already committed will have a pronounced effect as this recruitment plays out.
And though the Houston student-athlete is taking a slow and easy approach to this summer recruiting period ("Summer should be a period of relaxation."), he is about to take his first meaningful step toward narrowing down the field. He has been working on winnowing his large list down to a final group of ten schools, but says he might go a little further. "I'm actually thinking of maybe just going with just seven or eight," he opines. "I already have a couple of the schools in my head, but I don't want to say anything until I can sit down with my family. I need to tell them first before anyone else."
One looming question about that list he is about to name is whether all schools on that list will come from his list of offers. He gave me above 15 offers schools who are high on his mind, but the one prominent name not on that list is the Fighting Irish. Ogbonnaya has been public about his communications with Notre Dame, and their decision to not offer through the May evaluation period. "They want me to come up to camp to evaluate me," he describes. "I'm not sure what I'll do about that. The only camp I'm thinking about right now might be Penn State. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do about Notre Dame. I don't really have an inclination."
With a lot of questions to be answered, Ogbonnaya will be making the first hard choices of his recruitment very soon. He told me to call back in a few days, and I'll be doing all that. You'll get his narrowed list first here on The Bootleg.
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