If you've been paying attention the last four years at games and practices, you have often seen the jumbo-sized "little" brother of Babatunde Oshinowo visiting The Farm. From the time before he was in high school, recruiters have had their eye on big Timi Oshinowo. He has passed the eyeball test since he grew past his older brother, and now his time has come as a high school junior grabbing attention not only in the Midwest, but all over the nation. With the 2005 Signing Day now in the rearview mirror, the 2006 class is being courted with a rash of Junior Day events hosted by schools, and that has the younger Oshinowo traveling all over the Midwest this winter. Last week he was invited to conflicting Junior Days for Iowa and Illinois, opting to hit the in-state Illini in Champaign.
"It was pretty fun. I liked the basketball game [vs. Wisconsin]. The student section was pretty big," Oshinowo comments. "I think they're interested in me, and it's a good place to get a college degree."
The day-long visit to Champaign was an important introduction to the school and program, but it was not the first encounter for the 6'7" offensive tackle with the new Illini staff. Head coach Ron Zook attended a dinner in December honoring top Illinois preps. The former Florida coach ran into the Neuqua Valley High School junior and had to avoid a conversation, per NCAA rules. He did allow a brief greeting and acknowledgement.
"I'm not allowed to talk to you," Zook reportedly allowed. "But I know all about you."
The Illinois Junior Day brought just 28 top talents in the 2006 class to campus. In contrast, Northwestern hosted their Junior Day this weekend and invited 175 junior targets to Evanston.
"What made it so different was there were a lot more people," Oshinowo reports. "It wasn't as personal as Illinois. But we talked a lot more with the position coaches."
The Naperville (Ill). native spent his time with Wildcats offensive line coach James Patton. "He said he saw my film, and they already know who I am because of my brother. They seem pretty interested in me."
The Oshinowo family will burn plenty more rubber on the road in the coming weeks, with Junior Day trips to Notre Dame next weekend (Feb. 27) and Wisconsin the week after that (March 5). Michigan recently invited him to attend their camp this summer. The mail has been coming early and often for the big offensive tackle, spanning the nation. The most "aggressive" mailing campaigns have come from Michigan, Iowa, Florida State and Notre Dame. This might be enough to make an ordinary high school junior's head spin, but Oshinowo is more than prepared for what is ahead.
"I'm kind of familiar with the whole process because of my brother," he explains. "The one thing I learned was: don't let any of it get to your head. You still need to work hard and you need to keep your grades up."
If you paid attention the last time an Oshinowo went through the recruiting wars, you know the importance of education to that family. It comes as no surprise that the younger brother has a keen eye toward the computer science/graphics offerings at the schools recruiting him. With that in mind, as well as the football and personal factors in play, he currently has a top seven of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Stanford and Wisconsin.
Iowa is a school whose Junior Day invitation he had to turn down, given the opportunity to see his in-state option that day, but the Hawkeyes are very much on his mind.
"I talked to an Iowa coach and he said I have good balance and a good frame. I just need to work hard to get stronger," Oshinowo relates. "He compared me to Robert Gallery. He was lean and had a good frame; now he's worth $60 million. That got my attention."
The Cardinal are no surprise as one of Oshinowo's favorites, though Stanford has not put forth as much of an effort thus far in their mailings, according to the recruit and his parents. Some of that may be explained by the transition the program has gone through with the new coaching staff and hires. For the time being, no real damage is done, and most of the intrinsic appeal remains intact.
"I'm definitely interested in Stanford," the Illinois junior maintains. "I like the campus a lot. I'm familiar with places and some of the people. Geography doesn't really matter to me right now. I don't think it will be a factor in my decision."
This is one recruiting story that has barely begun, with a wealth of schools in the picture and the pieces not yet coming together. We'll keep tabs on Oshinowo as his journey progresses, and keep you abreast of all his latest.
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