A native of Brampton, Ontario, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Ekakitie was a basketball standout until the high school football coach from Lake Forest Academy (Ill.) watched him play and suggested that he come down to Illinois and play football.
"I was like whoa, I have never played football before, why would I come down to Illinois to do it?" Ekakitie said. "I talked to my parents about it and I thought it would bring about a lot more opportunities."
It has turned out to be a wise decision, as Ekakitie, a four-star prospect ranked the No.25 defensive end in the country by Scout.com - holds more than 20 offers from some of the top schools in the country: Boston College, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, UCLA and Wisconsin.
"Recruiting process has been fun," Ekakitie said. "It's a once in a lifetime kind of thing, and I'm taking it as it comes. It's been different for me, being from Canada, and not growing up idolizing a specific team, so I'm very open to all schools in general. Certain aspects are difficult to handle, and it's hard not to let all the coaches inflate your head over time. But for the most part, I've stayed in check and stayed humble."
The big key to staying even keel is Ekakitie's focus on his workouts, one of the main focuses he's had since coming to Lake Forest. Combined with spending some time working with Core 6, Ekakitie came into the preseason before his junior year at 254 pounds. He finished the season at 285 pounds, and added 15 sacks.
"I've gained a lot of weight over the past couple years since I've been at LFA," Ekakitie said. "It's been a positive weight gain, and I've noticed incredible jumps in my strength, and I haven't lost a step of quickness. If anything, I've gained some quickness."
Ekakitie's goal this summer is trim his list down to a top 10, but the defensive end wants to take a couple more visits –possibly to Boston College, Michigan and Penn State – before he narrows it down. One place Ekakitie doesn't need to go is Wisconsin, as he visited the Badgers last season when Wisconsin knocked off No.1 Ohio State.
Being recruited by co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, Ekakitie is almost positive that Wisconsin will make his next cut.
"I've been to Wisconsin once… and they definitely impressed," Ekakitie said. "I love their hard-nosed football … and I've developed a good relationship with their coaches."
Ekakitie will not camp anywhere this summer, as he plans to work out and enjoy some free time.