The recruiting battle for Emmanuel Awofadeju was brewing to be some colossal Stanford-Notre Dame battle, according to reports around the New Year, but the pendulum swung decidedly in Stanford's favor last week after the 1/17 official visit weekend that the Georgia defender took to Stanford. Afterward, he told The Bootleg that he was 85% decided in his mind in favor of the Cardinal. But he was open-minded to Notre Dame, where he would take his long-awaited trip the following weekend.
Monday evening, after returning from his South Bend trip, he reported on his visit. "The campus was really nice, and I liked the gothic architecture," he described. "I saw the football locker room, which was cool, but not really the type of thing that would wow me into changing my mind. I just never thought at any time on the trip that this is a place I would go. The experience was about what I thought it would be."
Despite his public statements of affection for Stanford, he says he received a cordial welcome from the Notre Dame coaches on the trip, and spoke well of the head man in particular. "The coaches were all really cool about everything," he said. "Coach Willingham was really cool and I came away really impressed with him. Coach [Trent] Miles came up to me at one point and said he had seen that I was 85% for Stanford and wanted to know what was up with that."
Awofadeju adds that with Stanford still so solid in his mind and in his heart, a commitment to the Cardinal could be forthcoming at any time. Stanford head coach Buddy Teevens is visiting the Awofadeju household this evening for a visit, and the Roswell senior predicts that he could give his verbal commitment to Teevens at that time. "I'll probably commit either Tuesday or next Monday. Tulane is trying to get me to take an official visit this next weekend, and it would be really fun to see New Orleans. But I don't know if I'll do that. I have to talk to the head coach at my high school Tuesday to see what he thinks I should do," he explains.
Virginia was a thought for a final 1/31 official trip, but Awofadeju hasn't talked much with the Cavaliers coaches recently, and says they are out of the picture. Maryland was the first school the Georgia defensive end visited earlier this month, but the Terps have never seriously challenge Stanford's leading position in this recruitment. That leading position is in part due to academics, but other factors have worked in Stanford's favor.
"I knew about the academics at Stanford for a long time, but I had to go out there and see what the place was like," he offers. "I was surprised to find that the people there were all a lot like me, and that made me pretty comfortable. I liked all the coaches a lot, especially Coach [David] Kelly and Coach Teevens. I kinda liked the coaches at Notre Dame, too, but across the board they were all so much more personal at Stanford. And I've always kinda wanted to live in California. I want to be near a city - like being around somewhere there are things you can do. In South Bend, the weather's not good and there's not much to do. I don't know if I could be happy someplace like that."
For all the kids Stanford loses to 'natural' factors of distance/proximity, the Cardinal coaches have to be happy that some of the natural advantages of weather and location are helping them close on a bigtime talent like Emmanuel Awofadeju.
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