It has been years since Stanford has had a defensive tackle with the size and athletic abilities of Franklin Okam, who they can also academically recruit. Though he has yet to take the SAT, he is one of the top students in his class at the academically prestigious Lake Highlands HS in Dallas, Texas, and should score through the roof when he does record a board score this fall. Ranked the #2 defensive tackle in the nation, Okam has more offers than you can shake a stick at. Some of the headline names include Ohio State, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Alabama. We would love to bring you weekly updates on this elite of elite recruits, but truthfully, there hasn't been much of a story to tell.
That's because Okam is taking his time in handling his 25+ school list, and doing so in a careful and judicious manner. "Day by day, I'm looking at different things for all these schools," he explains. "I want the best academics for myself, but also the best athletics. I'd like to go somewhere I have a spot and could play early. And I want to be somewhere I feel comfortable. I've heard some colleges pressure you to commit when you visit, and that's something I want to stay away from."
"I want to take my time, make all my visits, and get all my information," he continues. "I may not be able to take all five visits after the season, though, so I'll probably take one during the season, at least."
With blanket interest close to home, from all the top Texas schools, another decision Okam is considering is whether to spend some of his precious five official trips on in-state schools. He says that he could take unofficials to the likes of Texas and Texas A&M, thereby allowing himself to take five official trips to more distant destinations.
At this point, Okam says he is still in the thick of the arduous process of narrowing down his lengthy list of schools, and he is "around 10" currently. He does not know when he will get that down to five, but hopes to do so in the next couple of months. "I'd like to have my five visits set by the middle of my season," he notes. "None of the five are set yet, but I'm high on Texas, Texas A&M and Notre Dame right now."
The Longhorns have been running roughshod through the state's top talents in this recruiting year, and many speculate that Okam will be yet another notch in their proverbial belts. But the premier student-athlete cautions that in-state ties are not a big factor for him. "I actually grew up in Arkansas, and none of my family went to Texas colleges," he offers. "So there's no pressure at home. My parents tell me to make my own decision, and they'll support whatever that is. The only kind of pressure I get is at school from other kids, who have their own favorite schools. I didn't even start watching college football until I was 10, so I don't really have a school I even rooted for growing up."
The one darkhorse school to watch in this race hails from the Big 10. Though they inexplicably have yet to offer this incredible DT talent, Michigan remains a school of high interest for him. "Michigan is the one school I'm still waiting on," he allows. "Everyone else I'm considering has offered."
The question, of course, on all Cardinalmaniacs' minds surrounds the prospects of a Stanford visit. Okam has feelings on the Cardinal, which he shared with The Bootleg. "I think Stanford has a good chance to be one of those five visits," he discloses. "Just because of their academics. They are one of the best universities in the world. They also just won the Directors Cup, and obviously have great athletics. I've heard they have a really great campus, and that's another reason for me to visit."
So what are the downsides to Stanford that he is weighing against these positives, as he navigates the decision for a visit? "There's nothing really bad about Stanford," Okam answers. "I just need to see how they do this year. The 2-9 last year wasn't good, but if they do well this year, then I'll definitely visit."
So how does Okam define a good season? "A decent year isn't measured just in games," he replies. "I'd like to see them in every game, competitive."
Reading between the lines, this is a recruit who is high on Stanford for many reasons, and is simply looking for good enough results this fall to give him an excuse to go ahead and visit. No doubt, Buddy Teevens will be doing everything in his power to comply.
A few schools already have a head start with Okam, after a set of summer unofficial visits he took to nearby campuses. He camped at both Texas and Texas A&M, and took non-camping unofficial trips to TCU and Arkansas.
Lake Highlands plays nowadays in the 9-5A District, which is one of the toughest in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, if not the state of Texas. In their district alone, the Wildcats will face top-rated Allen this fall, plus perennial powers Plano East and Plano Senior. Plano West, the former high school of current Stanford redshirt freshman David Lofton, is a school on the rise as well. But the biggest battle may come for Okam and his team in their third game of the season when the play nationally ranked Longview at home.
Okam's season kicks off this Friday against Flower Mound, on the road. In addition to his disruptive role he provides on defense at DT, he will also do his best to stabilize the offense at the most critical of line positions: left tackle.
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