Alief Taylor DE/OLB, Joseph Ogunbanjo, is a great reminder of how important spring ball of your junior year can be for recruiting.
A few days before the Lions started spring practice, I texted defensive backs coach, Cedric Hardeman, to get their schedule. I also asked if there were any players I needed to know about. His reply, “Joseph Ogunbanjo. 6-foot-3, 215 pound defensive end. 22.3 200m! Runs on my 4×2 relay. Kid is a freak!”
Hardeman sent the film, and there was definitely a lot to like, including his highlights listing his 4.0 GPA. The athleticism was notable, and the recent highlights the three-sport star posted of him playing basketball (including breakaway dunks and skying high for blocks), running track, and also football, are quite revealing, especially when you factor for his size.
Recently I made my way to Taylor to catch a practice. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for Taylor, Ogunbanjo didn’t participate in football because he was still working with his track teammates in preparation for the state track meet where he ran in the relays. You don’t have to be a football savant to understand it’s uncommon for future OLB’s to run in the state track tournament in the highest classification.
At the time of this interview, Ogunbanjo had just received his first two offers.
Inside Texas: Congratulations on your first couple offers. How does it feel?
Joseph Ogunbanjo: It felt good, when I got UL-L (University of Louisiana-Lafayette) I was really excited. I was like I finally got on the map and now I just need to keep working and grinding harder. Then I got Baylor and I just know it’s about to take off and I just need to keep on doing what I’m doing to be successful.
IT: Tell me about your game; what are you working on?
JO: I’m playing linebacker and d-end over here at Taylor.
IT: Just like that guy over there.
[Torrodney Prevot was working out nearby. Alief Taylor C/O 2013, played at Oregon]
JO: Yeah, Prevot is somebody I look up to. He’s taught me a lot of stuff and he’s helping me out; how to come off the edge real good like he did. I’m trying to go to a big school like he did too.
IT: It seems like you’re guaranteed to go to a good football school now. Baylor’s just the tip of the iceberg. You also run track.
JO: Yeah, I’m actually running the 4×1 and the 4×2, and the 200. I made it to area in the 200. We made it to regionals in the 4×1 and the 4×2 and now we’re going to state next week at UT for the 4×1.
IT: What did you run in the 200?
JO: I ran a 22.1 in the 200. I qualified 3rd to go to area.
IT: And you’re on the main team for the 4×1, correct?
JO: Yes, the main team and we’re going to state.
IT: What’s your height, about 6-2, 6-3?
JO: Yes, I’m 6-3, and 208 pounds right now.
IT: That’s a good weight considering you’re running track, and you have a good frame to add weight. What schools do you want to hear from?
JO: I really haven’t heard from A&M, but I like A&M a lot. I like their education system. I like how they’re good in engineering. I’ve heard from UT. They came down here to visit us — they were really looking at Eagles. I like UT a lot. I really like Baylor and they’ve offered so that’s a blessing.
IT: What else should I know about you? How long have you been playing football?
JO: I’ve been playing since I was in Little League, about 8 years old. I’ve been playing a long time. I’m really just trying to be another person to make it out of Alief and go to a big school. I want to make my parents proud and get a free education.
Good head on his shoulders, and good shoulders to add weight.
The similarities to Prevot are pretty noticeable. Prevot’s big question coming out of high school was whether or not he could put on enough weight. He ended up doing so, but it took a while. Ogunbanjo will have an easier time because of his frame and not having track burning so many calories.
I’ll be following his recruitment. He seems to be a great kid, and his ability in three-sports at his size makes him quite unique.
He currently holds offers from Arizona, Baylor, U of H, Cincinnati, Texas State, Tulane, Indiana, UL-L, and SMU