Of Stanford's early commitments, several names are very familiar to Cardinalmaniacs™ as oft-discussed recruits throughout the recruiting process. T.C. Ostrander, Emeka Nnoli, Mikal Brewer and Jason Evans have been on the tips of the collective Cardinal tongues since the spring and summer. But a name that slipped entirely untirely under the radar of every major recruiting service was Udeme Udofia. This defensive end from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona is not known for his individual performances - with 11 solo tackles, 2 sacks and one blocked kick. But at just 16 years of age as a high school senior, this 6'4" 220-pound has a lot of physical maturation ahead of him. He will not turn 17 until March 25, but still has shown flashes of speed off the edge as a weakside rusher. Additionally, the Chaparall scheme used him to push the force the ball into the defensive interior. "At times even when I couldn't get the sack, I could force defensive plays," he explains. "A lot of times I was able to forced the quarterback into the tackle or the other end." Udofia also played on offense at guard, but says that schools all have been recruiting him for defensive end.
The young Chaparral senior has been no stranger to Stanford, with his older sister currently a junior at The Farm (non-athlete). In the family's many visits to the Stanford campus, Udofia has gotten a handle of the physical surroundings and the student life. But he took a big step with Stanford in the recruiting process when he took an unofficial visit to check out Cardinal football on November 9. He says he wanted to learn more about the academic program, in particular how the players manage to student-athlete balance.
"I had questions about how they approach academics plus football - how football players could excel at both," he says. Udofia got answers from the players he met on that visit, and also through discussions with the coaches. He says he talked with Buddy Teevens, Tom Williams, Peter McCarty and Dave Tipton, and they talked with the Arizona defender about Stanford's academic support staff and tutors.
On the football side of things, Udofia also had a lot he wanted to explore. "I didn't know what to expect," he says of the November visit, "I saw the players' dedication to winning - doing everything thing they can to win." He also said he was impressed with the facilities he saw. "It was a good atmosphere and a fun experience."
A growing number of schools were on his trail as the fall progressed, including Oregon and Washington State in the Northwest, as well as UNLV, Nevada (Reno) and New Mexico closer to home. But when he received a phone call from co-defensive coordinator Tom Williams on December 9 telling him that his application for admission had been accepted, he started warding off the other schools. "That's when I began to think about accepting Stanford's offer," he recalls.
Williams came for an in-home visit, but the climax of Udofia's recruitment came when head coach Buddy Teevens came for Stanford second visit to their Scottsdale home. In addition to the Nigerian family there with Teevens, the Chaparral head coach sat down for the meeting. As Udofia recounts, Teevens said to him, "We would really like to have you here at Stanford." The Chaparral coach turned to his defensive end and gave him an interpretation of the recruit-speak. "What he is asking you," said his coach, "is if you would like to commit to Stanford."
"I said yes immediately," Udofia remembers. "Stanford was my number one choice. I really felt Stanford was the best place for me."
He says that Stanford came after him with a scholarship offer because they like his speed off the ball. "They like my motor," he says, "and I'm kinda young for a senior. I still have room for growth and weight."
His Chaparral team finished the season 13-1 and won the Arizona state championship. Along the way they and Udofia met up with Centennial High School, home to another Stanford verbal commitment, Mikal Brewer. The Chaparral senior was impressed with Brewer, one of the top offensive linemen in the West, but the two also talked about recruiting this fall. "His comments really helped me with my decision."
Of note in looking ahead to the 2005 Stanford football recruiting class, Udeme's younger brother Ekom is currently a sophomore at Chaparral, playing at defensive tackle. Currently 6'3" and 240 pounds, the younger Udofia made a big splash on the Arizona football scene with 53 solo tackles and 9 sacks, and is projected as a bluechip recruit the next two years.
The older Udofia is schedule to take his official visit to Stanford on January 17, though he says it is still possible that he may move it to the January 10 weekend.
Note: name pronounced as Yoo-de-mah Yoo-doh-fee-ah