LB Michael Okwo

Michael Okwo had an outstanding junior season for Mira Costa on both sides of the ball, and that helped to land him an early offer from UCLA. Equally strong in the classroom, Michael has the profile that puts him squarely in the cross hairs of Stanford recruiting. And after my talk with him at the Nike Camp recently, you can now understand how he views UCLA, Stanford and some others.

LB/RB Michael Okwo (profile)
Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA)
Ht: 5-11.5  Wt: 204
did not run at Nike camp
20 bench reps; 33" vertical

Michael is unquestionably one of the top linebackers in the state of California who also made a huge splash at running back with over 1700 yards of rushing at a clip of better than 6 yards per carry his junior year.  He has garnered league and division honors, as well as underclass honors for the state and all-America.  You will be hard pressed to find a better two-way threat than the powerful junior from Manhattan Beach.  Michael was arguably the driving force on both sides of the ball for Mira Costa's first ever undefeated regular season this past fall, with 131 tackles on defense and 18 touchdowns on offense.  He is taking a cautious approach to his recruitment, though his early leader is UCLA after he attended their junior day and received an offer.  Michael certainly has the grades and a strong academic bend that looms large for Stanford.

I caught up with the two-way star at the LA Nike Camp and had a chance to chat with him about precisely these topics...

The Bootleg: Michael, are you working out as a running back today or as a linebacker?
Michael Okwo: I'm here as a linebacker.

The Bootleg: Is that where you would like to play in college, and is that where you are primarily being recruited?
Michael Okwo: That is where I want to play in college.  I think that is the best position for me, and I like linebacker a little bit more than running back.

The Bootleg: What is it that you like better about playing linebacker?  Is it the hitting?...
Michael Okwo: I just like playing within a defense better because it's more like a team, you know.  The squad comes together and swarms to the ball.  That's what I like about it.

The Bootleg: How have you run today, if you don't mind sharing?
Michael Okwo: I didn't run my forty or my shuttle.  My hamstring has been messed up from when I was sprinting with my trainer.  So I didn't want to hurt my stock or anything.  I just did my bench and my vertical.  I had a 33-inch vert and a 20-rep bench.

The Bootleg: Are there any skills out here that you want to pick up or work on today?
Michael Okwo: I'd love to work with my hands and get a little better at that.  That's something I've struggled with a little bit.  That's about it.

The Bootleg: Would you mean sharing some stats, highlights or achievements from your junior year?
Michael Okwo: I don't really know all the stats.  I had like 130 tackles.  I was co-defensive player of the year in Division III, along with Chris Frome from Hart.  Fox Sports Net team.  That's about it.

The Bootleg: Who are the schools you're hearing from, and are you starting to narrow down the list at all at this point?
Michael Okwo: Yeah.  I'm hearing from UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Arizona, Michigan State.  And I'm kind of narrowing it down.  UCLA is #1 on my list.  I don't know what it's like down there, since I haven't yet been able to visit any schools.  USC is near the top, too.  Though I haven't really made a top list yet.

The Bootleg: Are there any other Pac-10 schools who you've been hearing from?
Michael Okwo: Oregon.  I just got a letter from Oregon State.  A few from Washington.

The Bootleg: Do you mind if I ask what your grades and academics look like right now?
Michael Okwo: My cumulative GPA is a 3.52, and my SAT is a 1210.

The Bootleg: Those are excellent numbers, and I have to ask why you haven't mentioned the Bay Area schools - Stanford and Cal.
Michael Okwo: Stanford is the school I've been wanting to go to, but I'm not sure because they haven't really written me.  I know they are going through some coaching changes.  I'll just wait out for that and hope everything goes well and hear from them.

The Bootleg: Is there any other school, either nationally or out West, who you would like to hear more from?
Michael Okwo: Well, Stanford is that school I'm kind of holding out for.  UCLA is a good school, and I wouldn't taking that.  The campus is beautiful; I love the team - love everything about it.  I just want to wait out for Stanford because they have good academics.  I just want to go to a school that will help me out later in life if I don't go to the NFL.

The Bootleg: What are your top criteria as you are looking at these schools?  Is it the campus, the coach, the academics?
Michael Okwo: The coach, academics and networking - the things that will help me out later in life.  Help me get through college, too.

The Bootleg: Do you have a timeline yet for when you want to narrow your schools, take visits and make a decision?
Michael Okwo: I think I might just wait on it and see what's out there.  You know, I haven't really seen all the schools yet.  I want to see all that's out there before I make an informed decision.

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