At 6-6, 255 pounds, Okafor is a two sport star at Bellaire High School. On the gridiron he usually lines up at defensive end, and on the basketball court he plays power forward.
While he admits basketball was his first love, Okafor has his mind set on playing football in college.
“I actually came to Bellaire to play basketball,” he said. “I always liked basketball more growing up. But I started playing football my freshman year, and I was really good at it. I’ll keep playing basketball through high school, but I think football will give me the best chance to get a scholarship in college.”
Okafor spent this past summer playing basketball with his AAU team, the Houston Select, but is now focused on football for the fall. His junior season has not been going quite the way he had hoped, and Okafor feels like his decision to play basketball this summer may be playing a factor in that.
“The season is going okay, but it’s not how I thought it would be,” he said. “We lost a lot of good players from last year that went to other schools. And I’m not having the year I thought I would either.
“I thought I would be playing defensive end like last year, but the first five games this year they had me at right tackle,” Okafor added. “The last three or four games I have played both ways. In those games on defense I probably have around 30 tackles and two sacks.”
Joseph Okafor will be one of the top ends in Texas for 2010
Despite not getting the chance to fully display his talents as a defensive end this season, Okafor has been receiving a lot of recruiting attention from colleges, including a few early offers.
“Right now I have offers from Arkansas and Oklahoma State,” Okafor said. “LSU and Nebraska have both said they will be offering when I’m a senior. Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas A&M are recruiting me heavily too. I get letters from all those schools, and I try to call the coaches as often as I can just to keep in touch with them.”
Most of the early attention Okafor is receiving seems to be from schools in the Big 12 and the SEC, and that’s exactly the way he wants it.
“I want to play in either the Big 12 or the SEC in college,” he said. “Distance from home is going to be important, and the closest schools are in those conferences. In the SEC, everyone is so good. It’s always going to be a good game no matter who the teams are. The Big 12 is the same way. Plus, football is just better in the south than it is up north.”
“If I had a top 5 right now, it would be Texas, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas A&M, and Georgia,” Okafor added.
Playing in the SEC and distance from home will certainly be two factors helping the Tigers in their pursuit of Okafor. But his interest in LSU has to do with much more than just location.
“I just like their winning tradition,” Okafor said. “They put a lot of ends in the league. I watched their games against Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Florida. I still like them whether they win or lose. I just want to see how they use their ends. I noticed they have a strong rotation there. And I’ve been watching Rahim Alem closely because I like the way he rushes the passer.”
LSU defensive line coach Earl Lane has been the primary contact person for Okafor and the two are getting to know one another in the early stages of the recruiting process.
“Coach Lane is recruiting me, and I’ve gotten to speak with him a few times,” he continued. “He’s pretty cool. When we talk it’s usually about my academics and him telling me to make sure I get my grades in order.”
For more on LSU sports and recruiting visit the TSD Premium Forum