The first time you likely heard the name Emmanuel Awofadeju was in the September issue (written in early August) of The Bootleg Magazine, when he was the first name on our prized "Hot List" of football recruits. At the time, he was an unknown defensive end not even in the recruiting database of TheInsiders network. When that magazine fell into the hands of Jamie Newberg, the famed recruiting guru of BorderWars.com and now the Recruiting Director for the network, he added the Nigerian-born athlete to his radar and did an update. Awofadeju had offers in late September from Stanford, Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee State. The Rivals network did not pick up on the pass rushing end from Roswell High School (GA) until November. Ratings on both networks were quite meager at first with this unknown.
My brief blurb I wrote in that magazine was:
An athletic defensive end in the mold of fellow Atlanta great and current Cardinal freshman phenom, Julian Jenkins. Quiet recruitment is good news for Stanford.
But any sleeper status for the cerebral athlete has long since faded, with offers and attention coming from several major programs. Local attention came early in his senior season from the likes of Georgia and Tennessee, and he even took an unofficial trip to Knoxville to check out a Vols game against Miami. With a lot of friends at Georgia, the proximal appeal of Athens was nagging as well. But as time moved on, his list morphed to include Virginia and Maryland, who offered during his season, as well as Notre Dame and the Cardinal. Louisville offered, and South Carolina tried to get involved, but neither could gain any traction with the Roswell senior.
Today, his rating on TheInsiders network has jumped to #45 in the nation at defensive end, and Rivals has tabbed him the #28 weakside rush defensive end.
Awofadeju told TheBootleg early on that Stanford was his leader, but he reports that Notre Dame started contacting him at the end of his season. They did not offer right away, but told him they would soon. True to their word, the Irish coaches gave Emmanuel the much-anticipated offer right before the New Year, which set off in earnest a tight battle between South Bend and Palo Alto. As 2002 turned to 2003, both schools were neck and neck for his services.
Official visits were originally scheduled throughout December and January, but the Roswell basketball schedule has wreaked havoc with his intended football trips. He finally took his first official visit to Maryland on 1/3, followed by his second trip this past weekend (1/17) to Stanford. He would have preferred to visit Stanford the week prior and Notre Dame this most recent weekend, as both weekends were designated as their biggest hauls in January, but the two-sport athlete moved both visits back a week to stay and hoop it up on the 1/10 weekend.
Speaking of basketball, Awofadeju says that he had three Cardinal coaches (Tom Williams, Wayne Moses and David Kelly) out to watch him in a roundball affair just recently. Williams told Awofadeju this weekend during his Stanford visit that the amazing athleticism they viewed in that one limited game was enough to convince the Cardinal linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator that the young man had a future at outside linebacker at Stanford. Defensive end also remains a possibility, depending on how Awofadeju matures into his body.
He indeed brings a frame and athleticism very similar to Julian Jenkins, though different in two ways. Awofadeju is faster and has greater overall athletic ability compared to Jenkins at the same stage, while Jenkins possessed far more physical development and raw strength. Either way you slice it, this is a kid with huge ability and potential.
The visit this past weekend to The Farm was one Awofadeju had long been looking forward to, and it raised up to his every expectation.
"The visit went really well," he says. "I liked everything I saw. The coaches were great; the facilities were great; and the professors were great. It was more than I expected, and the weather was really nice. I didn't know how Coach Teevens or the players would be like, but I got along with everyone really well. I spent a lot of time talking with the freshmen about their first year experiences."
One of those frosh was Jenkins, who hosted him this weekend and himself made a Stanford-Notre Dame choice this time last year. "Julian said he'd like to play with me," Awofadeju reports.
So what did he want to learn particularly about Stanford this weekend, or what did he want to scrutinize to help with his decision? The Nigerian defender explains:
"The Notre Dame coaches said I should question how Buddy Teevens has fared in his past coaching jobs on my visit. Coach Teevens pretty well addressed that for me. He said that Stanford has historically had up and down seasons. He had a down season in his first year, and it will all be up from there. We also talked about the intense off-season workouts that the players are going through right now, to get stronger and better for next year. The players I talked to all have faith in Coach Teevens. They seemed pretty upset about losing last year, and I can tell they are determined not to let it happen again."
Awofadeju also notes that he was surprised at how many players he met from Atlanta during his visit, and also had a great time with his Stanford student hostess, who is also from Roswell High School. So adding up all he saw and all he found, where does the 6'5" defender see his recruitment shaking out?
"I don't think you should to go somewhere just for a coach, or just for football," he opines. "I feel pretty confident I want to go to Stanford. I've always felt comfortable with Stanford, and that didn't change at all this weekend. I've also always wanted to live in California in general. I was so impressed with how beautiful the campus was, and the area in general. Stanford also has the most diversity, which would really help me feel comfortable away from home."
Just how confident is Awofadeju that The Farm will be his final destination? He says today he is 85% committed to the Cardinal, but wants to finish out the recruiting process and see all he can see. "A lot of friends have advised me to take all my trips because you never get to do something like this again," he explains. "Going to Notre Dame would be cool just because of their tradition. It will be fun to check it out."
But before he heads to South Bend this weekend, he has the head man coming to see him. Awofadeju says that Tyrone Willingham is coming to visit him for his in-home visit this Wednesday. Awofadeju's recruitment won't end too soon, though, as he still might take his official trip to Virginia the last weekend of the recruiting season (1/31). Stanfor