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Notre Dame Hopes Its OL Tradition Can Impress Elite OL Samson Okunlola

Notre Dame is hoping it can come from behind and land elite 2023 offensive tackle Samson Okunlola

The minute that the news broke of a potential reunion between Harry Hiestand and the Notre Dame, the projection of the offensive line fortunes in the near and long term future dramatically improved. 

The allure of “O-Line U” is something that the Irish have been synonymous with in recent memory, and it certainly caught the attention of one of nation's best offensive tackles, Brockton (Mass.) Thayer Academy star Samson Okunlola.

The visions of Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson flood the memory banks. Without Hiestand, it just would not have been possible - at least not to the level we saw.

A part of that level of excitement is beginning to sell the vision to a return to excellence. The resume, while it speaks for itself, is something that most high schoolers need to be educated about.

“I talked to Coach (Marcus) Freeman the other day,” said Okunlola. “Coach (Jeff) Quinn and I had developed a great relationship so I need to speak with Coach Hiestand. I know a little about his resume but not a ton.”

For any player, coaching changes can be difficult. With Okunlola developing a deep connection with Quinn, there is work to do for Hiestand and the rest of the staff to regain comfort and sell him on the direction of the program.

Luckily, Okunlola has been impressed with what he’s seen from Notre Dame thus far. His vision of the ideal school does align well with what the Irish can offer.

“I want a school that can help develop me as a student athlete, as well as a person,” Okunlola explains. “The people around me are also important, to feel comfortable wherever I end up.”

There are a bevy of schools that are hot on the trail for the 6-6, 295-pound behemoth. Okunlola is a consensus top 100 recruit and ranks as the No. 36 overall player in the country and the No. 3 offensive tackle on the 247Sports composite rankings.

For a player of this caliber, Notre Dame is in for quite the battle for the services of Okunlola. From every indication, and from the lips of Okunlola himself, the potential Irish fit is one that checks a lot of boxes stylistically.

“The fit is really good,” Okunlola noted. “Notre Dame runs a balanced offense and I feel like that suits my all around game well. It can also allow me to move in space. I am a pretty athletic lineman.”

While there is some convincing that needs to happen with the transition back to Hiestand, or at least just developing relationships, Notre Dame does seem to check off most of the criteria for Okunlola. This one is just about time and effort.

Okunlola has also not been on campus as of yet. A very mature young man, Okunlola has a clear recruiting plan in place leading up to his declaration.

“The plan is to take three to four official visits before the season and then one to two game day visits during the season,” he stated. “From there, I will sit down and make a good decision.”

That leaves a lot of time for Notre Dame fans to sweat it out. Luckily, Okunlola will give some clarity to his process this spring.

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“I plan on dropping a top five right before June. Ohio State and Oregon are a couple schools that I have interest in right now as well.”

This recruitment will be an interesting one. With so many layers to consider, and figure out, things could change rather quickly. One thing is certain, playing the long game for a player the caliber of Samson Okunlola is well worth the wait.

He could be a key piece in restoring “Offensive Line U” to its former glory.

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