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BREAKING: From the 508 to the 305: Samson Okunlola, the Highest Ranked Massachusetts Recruit of All-Time, Commits to Miami

With the Addition of the self-proclaimed ‘Pancake Honcho’, Canes Continue to (Pancake) Stack Talent

Syndication: Enterprise News Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Five-star offensive lineman, Samson Okunlola of Thayer Academy and Brockton, Massachusetts announced his commitment to University of Miami Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-5, 305 pound ‘Pancake Honcho’ chose the Hurricanes over Florida, Michigan State, and Alabama. He is the highest ranked recruit out of Massachusetts since 247Sports began their ranking system.

In spite of a 5-7 2022 season, Miami continues to stack talent as they are now ranked third for the 2023 recruit football team rankings, only trailing SEC powerhouses Alabama and Georgia.

The Canes are especially top-heavy at offensive line where they have now added two five stars in Okunlola and IMG Academy’s Francis Mauigoa. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Miami holds a total of seven top 100 recruits, three five stars recruits, and the number two recruit in the nation in CB Cormani McClain. Miami is one of four programs that have landed three five-star prospects. Miami has only recruited seven top 100 commitments combined from 2020-2022.

As to offensive line, Miami has not recruited a top 100 recruit since 2017 (Navaughn Donaldson, 72nd). Since 2000, the Canes have only recruited two five-stars - Reggie Youngblood (2005) and Seantrel Henderson (2010) - which matches the number of offensive line five-stars in the 2023 class. In the NFL Draft, Miami has not had an offensive lineman drafted since 2017 (Danny Isidora, fifth round), and has only had one first rounder offensive lineman since 2005 (Ereck Flowers, 2015). Since the 2013 cycle, the Canes are just the sixth program to landed two-five-star offensive line commits.

After this year’s offensive line was plagued with injuries, and has struggled to remain consistent the past few years, Okunlola has an opportunity to be an immediate starter at the tackle position along with Mauigoa. Canes also have promising tackle, Zion Nelson, who is one of the lineman that has dealt with the injury bug, but also sees last year’s starter, John Campbell, depart for the transfer portal. Canes are targeting Alabama transfer, Javion Cohen, who would add immediate help at guard.

Okunlola on why he chose Miami

HC Mario Cristobal is a former Canes offensive lineman and worked closely with his righthand man and OL Coach, Alex Mirabal, in securing Okunlola, and they hope to develop him similar to the way they groomed Detroit Lion and former Oregon Duck, Penei Sewell, who became a first round pick. Cristobal and Mirabal closed the deal with an in-home visit this past Tuesday on the heels of Okunlola’s official visit to Florida last weekend (Miami also fended off a late press by Michigan State who landed Okunlola’s cousin also from Brockton, Ademola Faleye, via the transfer portal).

Okunlola continues to build out his frame and can develop mightily under Cristobal, Mirabal, and strength coach, Aaron Feld. Okunlola already has the base traits as a disciplined, physical and fast offensive lineman, but also has the IQ to make immense progress at Miami.

“First of all just showing you’re gonna coach and develop me and really has a plan for me in the program,” Okunlola said. “And also the stability of the coaches, the head coach, [offensive coordinator] and the [offensive] line coaches, stability of them all around … What style of offense they run, is it a passing scheme, do they run the ball and how do they run the ball is major as well.”

Okunlola on the Canes’ Coaching Staff

The in-home visit certainly helped butter up the Pancake Honcho as Cristobal has been impressive with closing on recruits, but the respect was mutual all along:

“I love (Cristobal) and (Mirabal). They are both o-line dudes, and Miami is a pretty good hot spot down there. It’s overall a good school for education as well.”

“Great coach, great person as well, really real and straightforward,” Okunlola said regarding Mirabal.

“Overall, the Miami vibe and how coach (Mario) Cristobal is changing the general culture,” he said. “He’s a good coach. He’s making the process better and more structured.”

Background and Scouting Summary on Okunlola

Okunlola has said he will likely be an early enrollee after he participates in the All-American Bowl this January.

Okunlola is not just a pancake-eating beast on the football field, but Okunlola placed ninth at the National Prep Wrestling Championship in the 285-pound division just a few months prior to capturing gold at the New England ISL tournament. When not tossing pancakes, and opponents on the field and mat, Okunlola also tossed the shot put (40-7) and discus (104-5). The multi-sport athlete also has a brother, Samuel Okunlola, who is a class of 2022 defensive end right in the ACC at Pitt.

As far as the player, 247Sports National Recruiting Analyst compared Okunlola to Saints offensive lineman, Andrus Peat, and provided the following:

“Verified size with plus-five inch wing span. Already has strength throughout frame and carries 305 pounds like it is 270. Flexibility and ability to bend at knees stands out. Fires off low and thrusts up and into defender. Absorbs contact well. Is consistent with hand placement and sinks hips with consistency to win leverage. Is quick to shoot hands inside and has impactful initial punch. Moves feet well and quickly. Plays balanced and always keeps feet underneath him. Demonstrates high level body control. Moves well laterally and shows kick step. Can change direction and handles counters well. Ability to mirror with ease. Mixes physical play with being technically sound. Athleticism shines when pulling and when scraping and getting to second level. Spends a lot of time working on technique away from practice. Is patient in pass pro and difficult to beat around edge because of laterally movement and length. Rarely gets caught bending at waist. Is not challenged snap-to-snap and easily dominates competition. Has to continue to work on staying engaged on run blocks while driving defender back. Has to continue to refine technique. Multi-year starter at elite level program. Has first-round NFL draft potential.”