It's been just over a week since we broke the story of 6'6" Texas tight end Pannel Egboh's Stanford commitment. Honestly, you probably crossed him off your recruiting radar as another one "in the bag," and moved your sights on to the other fish still in the sea. But the verbal commitment is a completely non-binding entity which is unrecognized by the NCAA. Once a recruit makes his pledge to a school, nothing changes about the rules or scope of his college recruitment. Until that Letter of Intent is signed, the young man is fair game. Stanford has been able to affect a change in decisions for several important recruits in recent years, including Jason Evans, David Marrero and Landon Johnson last year. Could this be the year the Card have the tables turned on one of their commits?
"The day after I committed," Egboh begins. "My [high school] coach was called up by every school that had been recruiting me - Baylor, Rice, Duke, Arizona, Army and Colorado State. He told them all I was committed and felt very secure in my Stanford commitment. Most of them understood and wished me the best."
Except for one. Duke's Scott Brown came to North Mesquite High School on Thursday to try and make a pitch in person for Egboh to re-open his recruitment. After making his decision and already having to give bad news to so many coaches, it was a difficult experience to have Duke further confront him.
"He said he just couldn't end his relationship with me this fast," Egboh says of the Duke visit. "He wanted to know what was the decision-maker for me, and I told him that Stanford is where I always wanted to go. I couldn't pass that up. He countered with the percentage of pre-meds that move on and get accepted to medical school, with Duke's percentage being better, he said.
"It was very emotional for me. I had gotten to know the guy and his family, as well as the Duke family. It was emotional to have to end things - again. But I told him I am firm in my commitment. I have no second thoughts."
Quite to the contrary, the Mesquite athlete has taken his Stanford loyalty to another level. In a fashion that is reminiscent of how Stanford commit Alex Fletcher helped to recriut him, Egboh is employing himself to help recruit a local target of great Stanford importance.
Hint: They're both from Dallas... both Nigerian... both have medical dreams after college... and both are talented basketball athletes.
In fact, it was on the basketball court that Pannel Egboh first met Franklin Okam in person. The two have known each other by reputation, but it was a hard foul by the 300-pound Lake Highlands center against the 240-pound North Mesquite center that introduced them.
"I was out on a fast break and going up for a dunk with he grabbed my arm from behind," Egboh explains. "I jerked back and fell flat on my back. I was totally stunned, laying there. Then he reached down and picked me right back up. I saw the sportsmanship in him, and at that moment I knew he would be a great Stanford teammate."
Egboh has been in touch recently with Okam to discuss Stanford as his future college choice, and the two will meet again Wednesday at a local awards banquet. At that dinner, not only will the two Nigerian student-athletes have a chance to kibitz again in person, but also their families will meet for the first time.
Franklin Okam is ranked the #3 defensive tackle in the nation by TheInsiders and is scheduled to take a Stanford official visit in a little more than a week, January 30. Egboh took his trip to The Farm the first visit weekend of the month, January 9, and committed his last day there. Egboh is not a name known in many national recruiting discussions, but he is ranked the #16 tight end in this class by TheInsiders. He may be the steal of the class, though should he help close Okam, Egboh could write a chapter in the Cardinal Football history ledger before he ever sets foot on campus.
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