Udofia: The Final House Calls

He is the most famous Stanford recruit in the 2005 recruiting class, and he is the most highly rated prospect for the Cardinal. <b>Ekom Udofia</b> first came onto our radar more than two years ago when he was offered along with his older brother; now we are two days away from his college decision. Stanford was one of the last two schools to come to his home, and he talks about those visits.

The word is now out that Ekom Udofia is down to a final three schools from which he will announce his final college decision on Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Game.  Udofia cannot play in the game due to a nasty injury he suffered in October that broke his fibula in several places and tore up his ankle, but he is recovering and proudly will walk the sideline with the honor of having been selected as one of the best and brightest stars in this 2005 national recruiting class.  Udofia had dreamt of playing in this game for nearly two years, and though those plans have changed, his intention to announce his commitment at the game remains intact.  The elite defensive tackle first told me last spring that he would announce in San Antonio on January 15 at the All-American Game, and that day is almost here.

This week has been a recruiting vacuum for Udofia, with the NCAA imposed dead period that prohibits coaches from making in-person recruiting contacts.  The Chaparral High School senior left for San Antonio Wednesday and will announce Saturday, which means that last week was the final opportunity for schools to come to his Scottsdale (Ariz.) house and make their final pitch.  Udofia's final three schools are USC, Miami and Stanford, and it was the latter two who came in late last week to make those last-gasp in-home visits.

Miami head coach Larry Coker got the last slot, coming to the Udofia home on Friday to pitch the 'Canes one more time.  No program has sent more talent to the NFL the last few years than Miami, and the beautiful weather and surroundings help round out an outstanding package for any recruit.  However, it was the lure of playing time that Coker offered on Friday.

"It went really good.  I had a good time with Coach Coker," Udofia begins.  "He said that this is a great time for me to come to Miami.  Usually players come to Miami and have to work their way up and wait for playing time.  But because of who they graduate and what they have left, this is one time when I could come in and compete and play right away."

And how much of an impact did that make on the recruit?

"I kind of already knew that I would come into a good situation, but to hear it specifically - it's really enticing."

The prior evening, last Thursday, Stanford sent in head coach Walt Harris and assistant coach Tom Quinn, who regionally recruits Arizona for the Cardinal.

"It was about the same," Udofia offers in comparing Harris' visit to Coker's.  "Both coaches are trying to recruit me to their schools and telling me why their school is the best fit."

While Stanford has the longest relationship of any school with the Arizona standout, Coker now has a longer history with Udofia than Harris has.  So the Thursday in-home visit was a continuing introduction for the new Stanford head coach as he explains what he intends to do on The Farm.

"I feel good about what Coach Harris is doing," the 6'1" pass rusher reveals.  "He's making good hires and he has a good record in turnarounds."

Stanford is indeed in 'turnaround' mode right now, and that is ultimately the biggest difference between Stanford and the other two finalists in Udofia's eyes.  He has seen USC (twice) and Miami (once) win three of the last four national championships.  The biggest hurdle for the Cardinal is convincing Udofia that they have a chance to move toward title contention.  Can he buy into that?

"I can walk into a situation that is established and be another player, or I can be a part of a place that is turning things around and be a key player," he offers in support of Stanford's position.

One piece of good news for Cardinal fans is that Ekom Udofia was accepted by Stanford's admissions office in the last few weeks.

"I thought I'd get in with a 4.2 GPA and a good test score.  I didn't see why I wouldn't get in even if I didn't play football," he confidently crows.

With that hurdle out of the way, Stanford is on a level playing field with the Trojans and Canes for this Saturday decision.  Udofia left for San Antonio yesterday with some leanings of what he would announce this weekend, but still mulling things over.

"I kind of have an idea, but I don't know for sure.  I'm wavering a little," he allows.  "My main goal is to have a decision for Saturday.  It's just a relief to have all the calls and in-home visits done.  It was enjoyable, but now I'm ready to be done with this."

Scout.com is the official partner of the U.S. Army All-American Game and has on site a host of our best experts and writers following all the events and notes leading up to Saturday's big event.  Stay tuned for more on Udofia, including his grand announcement on national television in two days.


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