Shotgun Spratling | USCfootball.com

Future Impact: Five-star DE Oluwole Betiku picks USC

An in-depth look at what USC is getting in new five-star defensive end commit, Gardena (Calif.) Serra standout Oluwole Betiku.

While USC may still not have a defensive line coach, the Trojans just picked up a big-time defensive line recruit. Gardena (Calif.) Serra five-star Oluwole Betiku announced via Twitter that he was committing to USC.

What does the addition of Betiku mean for the Trojans?

Profile: Oluwole Betiku
Position: Defensive Line
Location: Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Height: 6-4
Weight: 250 pounds

What to Like:  Potential, potential, potential.

According to MaxPreps, Betiku made 70 tackles this season with 28 coming behind the line of scrimmage. A whopping 17 of those tackles for loss were sacks. Those are tremendous numbers, but even moreso when you realize that Betiku has only been on a football field for a couple of seasons. Two years at Serra constitute his entire catalog of game experience. He's still learning every single day.

Oluwole Betiku plays with a relentless motor and drive. You’re talking about a 250-pound specimen of an athlete who has become a five-star level player based mainly on raw skill. He just discovered the weight room last spring, so now you’re giving him the resources and opportunity to get even bigger and faster.

He's playing football to one day make it to the NFL so that he can bring his family over from Nigeria. That's his motivation and he uses it. He has a unique size, speed, strength combination that made him no match for high school offensive tackles. While he's unlikely to replicate his 17 sacks as a college freshman, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities later in his career.

Analyst's Take: "In terms of physical upside, few players anywhere in the country can match what Betiku brings to the table," Scout regional analyst Greg Biggins said. "He’s an NFL caliber guy when you look at his size and athleticism. He has a college body right now and will have no problem playing at about 260 pounds while maintaining his speed and quickness.

"He tested off the charts at The Opening clocking a 4.57-40 and jumping 34” in the vertical. He has a non-stop motor, works incredibly hard on his game off the field and plays with a natural mean streak.

"He’s still learning the game but can dominate right now with a bull rush or simply running around an opposing tackle. He’s very strong in his upper body, is a coachable kid and barring injury, should play football for as long as he wants to.

Impact on the Class: This is a huge commitment for the Trojans. A physically imposing figure already, Betiku has the ability to step in and contribute right away much like his good friend and former Serra teammate Rasheem Green did this season. Betiku is built like a brick wall and has af his transcripts get cleared, he will be able to enroll early.

The combination of USC's defensive line departures and the extra time getting his feet wet during spring ball would give Betiku an opportunity to be in the mix right away for a significant role on the defensive line as early as the Alabama game.

Analyst's Take: "Betiku should be able to enroll at USC in January, which is huge for him because he still is very raw,” USC recruiting analyst Gerard Martinez said.

“If he stays healthy, and he does have a shoulder injury he is recovering from, Wole will make an impact at SC next fall. The rush end, weak side end spot has talent, but with the way USC was platooning their defense last season, Betiku will be on the field as a freshman.”

Shotgun Spratling/uscfootball.com
Finding a Home: One of the biggest questions for Betiku will be his positioning and how he is used. Will he be a five-technique defensive end or will he be a stand up rush end? And that question can't really be answered until USC makes a defensive coordinator position. Will the Trojans stick with the 3-4 defense that Justin Wlicox used and potentially push Betiku to rush end or will the new defensive coordinator overhaul the alignment and go with a 4-3 or even something like the 5-2 hybrid Clancy Pendergast used.

The position he would play was something that was a huge factor for Betiku early in his recruitment, but slowly lost top priority as his senior season progressed.

Analyst's Take: "Wole dropped USC because he originally set out to play weak side defensive end in a 4-3,” Martinez said. “With his explosiveness off the ball, I think he really relied on his speed rush and was insecure about playing any inside techniques, let alone coverages.

“This past season, he’s gained a lot more football knowledge and played off the ball more in a two-point stance. His confidence grew and he now has that experience of playing more as a hybrid player.

“In a 4-3, he’s a weakside end attacking from a seven technique. Maybe even a wide nine technique if USC runs those types of pass rush sets in the future. In the current scheme, he’ll move around more. He’ll definitely play some rush end like Porter Gustin, but he may grow and play with his hand in the dirt.

“He’s a bit stiff in the hips to be a full-on linebacker. Like Gustin, you really want Wole spending a majority of his reps getting north and south. USC has thrown the Von Miller comparison out there at Wole.

“Personally, I think he’s a more powerfully built pass rusher. Miller was like 215-pounds coming out of high school. Betiku is already 250-pounds. I see him more as a Lamarr Houston or even Tamba Hali type pass rusher if he puts on some weight. Both of those guys played inside, out on the defensive line in the careers, and I think Betiku is capable of doing that as well.”

Areas to Improve: With such a shallow depth of experience, Betiku still makes some rookie mistakes. He's definitely going to continue to get better, but he's still raw and veteran offensive tackles will be able to use that against him. Betiku has to work on and develop his counter moves to be successful at the next level, but he's basically an open canvas, willing and able to take teaching and advice.

Just seeing the difference from his junior to his senior year when he went from 11 sacks while playing beside Green to the 17 as a senior shows how quickly he is turning the practice, teaching and repetitions into results.

Analyst's Take: “He has an awareness for the importance of technique as a pass rusher, but he is still raw in his moves,” Martinez said. “Wole is smart and very mature, so it’s just a matter of time and repetition.

“I think the efficiency of his movement is where he has to improve. That and understanding what moves to use when. He doesn’t know the game of football all that well, so situational awareness is something the USC staff will need to really address with him. Sometimes he’ll rush on third-and-3 like he does on third-and-10.”


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