LSU coach Les Miles has high expectations for Chidi Valentine-Okeke, the offensive tackle from Georgia who signed with the SEC school last month.
Valentine-Okeke moved from Nigeria to the U.S. last year, and he has only played one season of organized football – at Stockbridge’s Faith Baptist Christian Academy last fall.
The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder skyrocketed in the recruiting rankings after showcasing his raw skills and athleticism at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl game in January.
“The first thing you wonder is ‘is he tough?’ Then you watch his film, and immediately can tell that,” Miles told the AJC on Wednesday.
“Then you see great athleticism and range. Then you realize that he’s only played one year of football. It’s totally an amazing thing. We look forward to honing his abilities.
“This is a place where you play at the very highest level. We invest in our players. In the last 10 years, we’ve had 60 guys drafted. If (Okeke-Valentine) buys in and does the things that we’ve done in the past, he will be one of those guys.”
No out-of-state school made a bigger splash in recruiting in the state of Georgia over the final week before this year’s signing day than LSU.
Okeke-Valentine had Auburn, Alabama or UGA as his leader at one time or another before LSU swooped in and edged out its SEC rivals at the end. He is rated as the state’s No. 11 overall prospect in the composite rankings, and moved up all the way to No. 2 in the 247sports ratings (non-composite) after the all-star game.
LSU’s other major recruiting win was Arden Key, the state’s No. 9 overall prospect from Hapeville Charter. Key was this year’s biggest soap opera in recruiting, both committing and de-committing twice from South Carolina before eventually settling on LSU.
Why does Les Miles think LSU had such a strong finish in Georgia?
“I always think recruiting is a personal decision that families make,” Miles said. “And I think certainly that LSU has a tremendous following in the SEC footprint.
“Both guys have really fit specific needs of ours, with Arden Key being that very fast edge-rusher. Chidi is a great left tackle. He’s very athletic and big with long arms. Both guys fit real needs of ours, and we expect both of them to play very early.”
LSU signed one other Georgia player in last month’s class, long snapper Blake Ferguson of Buford.