Over the weekend, Notre Dame made a big move to position itself favorably with Braintree (Mass.) Thayer Academy offensive tackle Samson Okunlola by extending an offer to the 2023 blocker.
Okunlola reports that he is now 295 pounds, and the 6-6 offensive tackle has put in a lot of work to reshape his body after previously being listed over 320 pounds. We saw him at the recent Under Armour Camp in Columbus and Okunlola's reshaped body was impressive, and he was one of the best players in attendance at the camp.
The Thayer Academy standout is ranked as the nation's No. 35 overall player and the No. 3 offensive tackle according to Rivals. Okunlola has such a high ceiling among other potential bookend tackles thanks to his long reach, but he can move his feet fairly well for a big man too.
Like many others, Okunlola's 2020 season was canceled due to Covid, so the camp served as his first opportunity to compete against other top level prospects in quite some time. Okunlola was pleased to turn in a strong performance, though he does see room for improvement at the same time.
Less than two weeks after the camp, Okunlola picked up an offer from Notre Dame, marking his 24th scholarship of the process thus far.
“I had talked to one of the coaches before, but I didn't have too much of an idea that they were going to offer,” Okunlola told Irish Breakdown. “They are a winning team. I've seen they've won a couple championships. They have a good history. Academically, they do pretty well too. They're a good academic school too, so the academics and athletics compare pretty good, but right now I'm just taking it slow in the recruiting process.”
Notre Dame offensive line coach Jeff Quinn was the one to give Okunlola the news. During the conversation, the two spoke about what the Fighting Irish have to offer both on and off the field and why Okunlola should consider leaving the East Coast for college.
“He was just talking about how the academics and the athletics compare very well,” Okunlola said. “That's what he was saying to me. He said they have a good team overall, and they can help build players.”
Though Okunlola and Coach Quinn did not talk specifically about which position he's being recruited at, it is likely to be the offensive tackle position given his height and reach. So far, Notre Dame has only offered five tackles in the 2023 class, so Okunlola is part of a select group at the moment.
In terms of the rest of his recruitment, the Notre Dame target also sports offers from programs like Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State and USC, so that group is really a who's who of the college football world. Do not be surprised if Ohio State jumps into the mix in the near future as well.
There's a lot of time to go in this recruitment, so the Fighting Irish certainly have a puncher's chance, but the first step is always hosting an interested prospect on campus so that they can check out South Bend for themselves. Along those lines, Okunlola mentioned that he doesn't know which schools he is going to visit once the recruiting dead period is over in June. Instead of mapping that out, Okunlola is focused on competing in Nationals for wrestling, and that's occupied most of his time as of late.
Another element to note is that Okunlola's older brother, Samuel, was also at the UA Columbus camp, and he had a quality performance as well. The two brothers share much of their offer lists and have scholarships from the same schools, but Notre Dame is not one for the 2022 defensive end. And given the success that the Fighting Irish have had in recruiting pass rushers recently, that is not expected to change in the near future.
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