Recruit to watch: LB Michael Okwo

One player at the top of the wish list for the Trojans is 6'0, 205 pound linebacker Michael Okwo, out of Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. What does Okwo think of USC?..."I don't have a relationship with any of the coaches from any other college like I do with USC."

Okwo is coming off of a very impressive junior year that saw him star on both sides of the ball in leading the Mustangs to the semi-finals and a 12-1 record. From his weakside linebacker spot, he had 131 tackles and was named All-State Underclass, Bay League MVP, and CIF Co-Defensive player of the year along with Hart's Chris Frome. He also rushed for 1,724 yards with an average of over 6 yards per carry, and he also scored 18 touchdowns. Despite the fact that Okwo does excel at both positions, he projects as a linebacker and everyone is recruiting him at that spot, including the Trojans.

The two-way stand out is currently being pursued by a host of schools and he has a top-5 of "UCLA, USC, Stanford, Oregon, and Boston College," with all schools standing even at this point. Out of that group, USC and UCLA have come forward with scholarship offers. Okwo just got back from a three week vacation and hasn't set up any official visits, but he's ready to start scheduling some, as he explained, "I'll visit both L.A. schools, USC and UCLA, and I'll visit Stanford, maybe Oregon, and maybe Boston College. Actually, I was supposed to talk to Coach Holt (Trojan linebacker coach) about scheduling a visit. I need to talk to him." Okwo plans on taking all of his trips and going through with the process before he commits anywhere.

With a 3.5 G.P.A. and a score of 1210 on his first SAT attempt, it comes as no surprise that education is Okwo's biggest priority in choosing a school, "Academics are really important to me," he said. "I'm really just looking for a school that will help me out with a job after I graduate." Part of a close-knit family, he also explained that his parents will play a big role in his choice, "Well, it's pretty much their decision, but I get somewhat of a say in it." So, the big question then is, do his parents have a preference right now? He answered that question as he stated, "I think they're leaning more toward Stanford." With two older siblings already going to college out of state, Okwo also noted that distance from home will not be a factor.

In looking at USC, Okwo is particularly impressed with the coaching staff, "Gosh, I like all of the coaches," he said. "Coach Carroll is cool, Coach Holt is real cool. I don't have a relationship with any of the coaches from any other college like I do with USC. Coach Holt, he tries to get you in there and he lets you know, basically straight-up forward, where you're going to be. He tries to let you understand about the whole system. He's backdoor from us too. He lives close to here. It's cool, he's a hometown guy."

Okwo, who grew up playing soccer and didn't follow football much until he started playing it in high school, was able to make it out to some Trojan games last year as well as a practice, "Yeah, I went to the games junior year and I never really realized the background about it and everything. As soon as you get into the whole spirit and you hear the band, it's a good feeling. I also went to a practice in the spring. That was the first practice I've ever seen. It was intense. Coach Kennedy Pola, gosh, that guy is intense. I liked that and I liked the linebacker drills that I saw. Grootegoed wasn't practicing but I got to see Mike Pollard and a couple of the guys, so that was interesting."

Okwo spent the summer playing in passing league and working out, as he explained, "I've been working out with my trainer. I've been working out with my speed coach too. Trying to get my speed up before the season." The last time he maxed in the weight room, he put up 280 pounds on bench and 435 pounds on squat. He also attended the Nike Camp at USC in April and jumped 33.0'' in the vertical leap and he put up 20 reps of 185 pounds on the bench. He didn't run the 40 yard dash due to a hamstring injury. Top Stories