Riverdale (GA) High junior defensive end Chidi Okonya doesn’t count the amount of scholarships he has received since schools first starting taking notice of him. It’s not because the number of schools is outlandish and too many to count; there’s just more important things to him than pieces of paper.
“It’s a blessing really,” Okonya told Scout.com. “I don’t let myself count because I want to stay humble. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how many offers I get.”
For the record, the three-star prospect holds offers from Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, North Carolina State and Tennessee. His jumped up to a dozen offers Tuesday when North Carolina and Wisconsin entered the picture.
Both schools had been sending the 6-5, 225-pound prospect – ranked the No.30 defensive end in his class by Scout.com – plenty of mail, but he still called the pair of power-five conference offers a surprise.
North Carolina offered Okonya following a visit from co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic.
“I know the Tar Heels were a pretty good program,” said Okonya. “They’ve got into a little bit of (academic) trouble earlier, but they are in the process of rebuilding their team. They have a lot of potential from what I know.”
Wisconsin is another school that Okonya acknowledges has potential, especially since the Badgers just won the Big Ten West Division and have started to actively recruit Georgia under running back coach Thomas Brown, who is also recruiting Okonya.
“Coach Brown and I talked for a brief minute, but what I do know is he’s a pretty good coach for being so young,” said Okonya. “He pretty much told me a little bit about Wisconsin. I know they are a good academic school. They have a good balance between football and academics. A lot of good players play for their school.”
While many prospects are looking for a chance at early playing time when choosing a school, Okonya’s top priority is a program’s steadiness and doesn’t mind using his first year to adapt to college.
“I’m not pushing early playing time or anything,” said Okonya. “Redshirting, I am kind of fine with that. I think I’d prefer redshirting. If I get out there, I’m definitely all for it, but I don’t mind. It would be nice to play close to home, but I am not a stickler on distance or everything. Pretty much the stability of the program, ability that I can get a good education and how well the education and the football program weighs among other schools.”
Playing primarily in a 4-3 defense, Okonya estimated he had over 40 tackles as a junior.
“My big strength is my length,” Okonya said. “It helps me a lot for blocking off and distancing myself from offensive linemen to get to the ball carrier easier. Pretty much I am a lighter defensive end right now, so I am able to speed rush a little bit more effectively. I am just getting into a groove with my body.”
Okonya took unofficial visits to Alabama, Clemson, Duke and Georgia. He plans on researching the other schools on his list.