A matter of Faith

Tennessee is among two dozen schools drooling over a green but gifted defensive lineman who boasts a 4-star rating after playing just two years of organized football.

Faith Ekakitie had never played the sport when he left his home in Toronto, Canada two years ago and moved to Illinois. He'll be a senior this fall at Lake Forest Academy, where he has used his 6-3, 280-pound frame to considerable advantage on the gridiron.

"He's big, athletic and raw," head coach Ted Stewart told InsideTennessee by phone. "He's a big kid who can run, and it's hard to find those types of guys."

Ekakitie (pronounced e-KA-kitty) played inside linebacker as a sophomore, then moved to defensive end as a junior. He is ranked America's No. 25 defensive end prospect by Scout.com, which also accords him a 4-star rating.

Ekakitie played basketball in Canada and continues to do so now that he carries 280 pounds.

"He can dunk a basketball," Stewart said. "He's very, very athletic."

He's also very, very inexperienced. As he becomes more comfortable with American football, Ekakitie should continue making dramatic strides.

"He just needs to keep playing," Stewart said. "The more he plays, the better he's going to get."

The coach recalled that his star player recorded 15 sacks as a junior, adding: "He gets off the ball well and hunts quarterbacks down."

Although noting that Ekakitie had four sacks in one outing, the coach added that, "There's not really one game that stands out. He's the type of kid that gets better as the game goes on."

He's also the type of kid that gets a lot of attention from college recruiters. He already has roughly two dozen scholarship offers on the table.

"He's got more than 20," Stewart said. "He picked up Michigan and Nebraska last week. He's got to start cutting that list down some."

In spite of his meteoric rise from unknown to 4-star prospect, Ekakitie seems unaffected by his success.

"The best thing about him is that he's coachable and will do what we tell him to do," Stewart said. "He wants to be great."

He appears on track to achieve that goal.

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