He has memories of his youth football glory days that date back to when he was eight years old.
But for 2023 four-star offensive lineman Samson Okunlola, those aren’t necessarily times he remembers fondly.
“I hated (football) when I was younger,” Okunlola said. “I was forced to play it.”
But once he started playing at Thayer Academy (Braintree, Massachusetts), things changed.
“When high school hit I was like, ‘I kind of like this,’” Okunlola told Eleven Warriors Wednesday.
Even though Thayer Academy did not play football this past season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 6-foot-5, 295-pound tackle has quickly become one of his class’ best offensive line prospects. Okunlola is ranked as the 37th-best player nationally, the fourth-best tackle and the top recruit from the state of Massachusetts for 2023, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. Entering his junior year of high school, he has received 31 offers.
Ohio State first appeared on Okunlola’s radar after he shined at Ohio’s Under Armour All-America Camp in Obetz in April. In one-on-one drills, Okunlola held his own competing against five-star Ohio defensive end and Notre Dame commit Brenan Vernon. Buckeyes coach Ryan Day called him with an offer a few days after, which Okunlola announced on social media on May 5.
“It feels great,” Okunlola said after receiving the offer. “It feels like a blessing. It’s a blessing every day to have these offers and just keep on getting better.”
Okunlola came into contact with OSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, who Okunlola said complimented the quickness of his feet, the technicality of his game and his football IQ.
While he visited Georgia and Florida in June, but not OSU, Okunlola said he plans on visiting Columbus after the summer.
“I’m thinking about going up there either in the fall (for a game) or most definitely (by) the spring,” Okunlola told Eleven Warriors.
In describing what factors are most important when making a college decision, Okunlola said he wants a program that teaches modern techniques combined with a school that offers “a pretty good education with athletics.”
“It’s a big school, they produce great O-linemen and they’re always competing in a bowl,” Okunlola said of what makes Ohio State appealing as a potential destination. “They also provide a great education.”
As of now, there is no front runner for Okunlola’s services. Seeing as he didn’t enjoy football until recently, there wasn’t a college team Okunlola grew up rooting for, though he did say he watched a lot of New England Patriots games because of Tom Brady.
“Right now I’m just chilling a little bit,” Okunlola said. “I’ll probably start breaking down my list from mid-to-late junior season.”
Givens to announce commitment Friday
Four-star 2022 offensive lineman Gunner Givens will announce his college commitment at 6 p.m. Friday on CBSSports, the Virginia native tweeted Thursday.
COMMITMENT TIME HAS CHANGED TO 6 TOMORROW ON CBS SPORTS— Gunner Givens (@givens_gunner) July 15, 2021
Givens has narrowed his finalists down to six, including Ohio State, Alabama, North Carolina, Penn State, Clemson and Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Givens is the 131st-best prospect nationally and the fourth-best interior lineman prospect in the 2022 class.
While you can never say never, it seems unlikely Givens will pick the Buckeyes. The thinking here is OSU has slowed down its pursuit of Givens, considering the team plans on taking about four offensive linemen in the 2022 class. The Buckeyes already have two commitments in George Fitzpatrick and Tegra Tshabola, and remain invested in the likes of Addison Nichols, Kam Dewberry and Earnest Greene to fill out the class. Three 247Sports analysts have made a crystal ball prediction that Givens will choose Virginia Tech.
Birchmeier picks Penn State
One of the top offensive line prospects for 2023 is headed to a Big Ten rival.
Alex Birchmeier, the 42nd-best prospect for the class of 2023 and the nation’s best interior lineman recruit, announced his decision to commit to Penn State Thursday afternoon. It is PSU’s first commit for the class of 2023.
Birchmeier, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman from Virginia, had an offer from Ohio State and was supposed to visit campus in June, but ended up canceling the trip. OSU has yet to receive a commitment from the class of 2023 at any position, though some priority targets have been established.