UGA and Auburn are the frontrunners for big kid who has suddenly emerged as one of the state’s top college football prospects.
Chidi Valentine-Okeke is a 4-star offensive lineman from Faith Baptist Christian Academy, an independent private school in Stockbridge.
Valentine-Okeke, who moved from Nigeria to the U.S. last year, was recently re-classified from a high school junior to a senior. He is now rated as the state’s No. 14 overall prospect for 2015.
The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder took his first official visit this past weekend, traveling to UGA. He will also go to Auburn and Alabama this week for his final two recruiting trips. Valentine-Okeke will announce his college decision on Jan. 3 at the Army All-America game.
“My guess is that it’s a toss-up between two of those schools,” said his coach, Jonathan Morgans. “He’s not saying anything but I think it’s a toss-up between two schools.”
Which two? “This is my opinion,” his coach said. “I don’t know anything for a fact. He hasn’t said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to any of them. I think it’s going to be between Auburn and UGA.”
His coach’s comments aren’t really surprising, considering they pretty much fall directly in line with the 247sports Crystal Ball predictions for Valentine-Okeke. He is projected to go to UGA by 67 percent of recruiting analysts, followed by 25 percent in favor of Auburn.
What does he like about UGA? “It’s just a local school,” his coach said. “I don’t know. It’s hard. We get like 53 letters per day from colleges at the school … He does like that Coach Letson at Georgia is very good with him. That’s my opinion. I can’t speak for him, so I don’t know.”
And what about Auburn? “It’s the same thing as UGA. The Auburn coaches all are catering to him in every which way. I don’t know even know how to answer that question. But I do think he’ll probably get more playing time at Auburn right away.”
Rusty Mansell of 247sports has high praise for Valentine-Okeke:
“He is just a big human being in person. He has been through a lot, obviously (with moving from Nigeria). He’s still a little raw. You see him right now and how good he is. And you wonder how good he can be a year from now after being trained in college. He has the frame and toughness to be an NFL guy one day.”
Landing Valentine-Okeke would be huge for UGA after the Bulldogs missed on most of the state’s star-studded group of elite offensive linemen this year.
“I would say him being at UGA four weekends in row is good for them,” Mansell said. “They’ve definitely had the opportunity to give him their sales pitch. You would think that they have a real good shot after having him on campus that many times before he decides next month.”