In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet an elite offensive tackle who will help Miami reshape their offensive line: Brockton (MA) Thayer Academy 5-star OT Samson Okunlola.
In an effort to improve what’s been a bad offensive line, Miami put a hard focus on Brockton (MA) Thayer Academy OT Samson Okunlola.
Instead of crafting the normal bio section here, I’m instead going to direct you to Jake Marcus’s incredible profile of Okunlola. It has a wealth of information, and you need to read it.
BREAKING: From the 508 to the 305: OT Samson Okunlola, the Highest-Ranked Massachusetts Recruit of All-Time, Commits to Miami.— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) December 15, 2022
With the Addition of the self-proclaimed ‘Pancake Honcho’, Canes Continue to (Pancake) Stack Talent.#PancakeHoncho #Hurricanes https://t.co/6xT9eoHxb1 pic.twitter.com/4PiV4vMB1w
On the 247sports composite, Okunlola is a 5-star prospect, the #3 OT nationally, #1 in the State of Massachusetts — the highest ranked player in the HISTORY of Massachusetts HSFB, and #20 player overall in this class. Elite as elite gets from a prospect standpoint.
Okunlola committed to Miami over Florida, Alabama, and Michigan State from a massive list of 45 offers from around the country.
As A Player
Okunlola is a well-built player at 6’5” 305lbs. He has room to add 15-20lbs to his frame and keep his athleticism. Okunlola has a 6’10” wingspan, so he has the length you want and need to play tackle.
As you would expect from a player of Okunlola’s stature, he’s a monster in the run game. He routinely buries defenders into the dirt and finishes blocks through the echo of the whistle. This is where the foundation of the nickname “Pancake Honcho” started.
Okunlola has good athleticism and doesn’t carry bad weight on his frame, so he’s able to get out on the edge blocking for screens and tosses. And, given the opportunity to get to the second level, thoughts and prayers for whatever linebacker or defensive back is in Honcho’s way, because it’s about to be a sad day for them.
Pass protection is both a foundational responsibility for Okunlola as tackle, and a strength in his skillset. He has the ability to stay light on his feet, and move easily in mirroring rushers in his area. In games, Okunlola adds even more pancakes to the stack against his overmatched competition. But, rather than changing against elite competition at camps and events, Okunlola’s performance actually improves against the rush.
Ignore the text of the tweet below; focus on the video, which shows Okunlola dominating several blue chip linemen back to back to back to back to back. And for reference, one of the players going against Okunlola in these clips is a 6’5” 250lb rusher, and the other is a 4-star committed to Clemson.
OT Samson Okunlola names his four finalists@RivalsFriedman sits down with the five-star to break down finalists of Alabama, Florida, Miami, and Michigan State: https://t.co/fa3TECiD2y pic.twitter.com/dmTU9jkfUH— Rivals (@Rivals) December 14, 2022
And here’s another video of Okunlola embarrassing blue chip pass rushers.
An accomplished wrestler, Okunlola uses balance and leverage to put him in position to block and move his opponents. He’s adept at using his hands well to latch onto defenders and redirect them in both run and pass blocking situations. Like all players, he can continue to develop these techniques and skills in the future, but he’s coming from a strong foundation, and that should be easily done when he gets to college at Miami.
In HS, understandably as the best lineman on the team (and, I mean, in the history of Massachusetts HSFB), Okunlola plays on the left side. He has the build and potential to stay there in college, but he could easily move to the right side and continue his success. I know this notebook is about Okunlola, but the fact that Miami has another, higher rated OT in this class — Francis Mauigoa — will be a factor as to which tackle spot Okunlola will play in college. I mean, both guys will impact the others’ position, but my hope is that once someone is placed on a side, they stay there throughout their time in Miami.
Here’s another eval of Okunlola by 247sports National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins:
Verified size with plus-five inch wing span. Already has strength throughout frame and carries 305 pounds like it is 270. Excellent athlete also wrestles and finished ninth at National Prep Wrestling Championships as heavy weight in spring. Evaluated Okunlola during a practice and game in first two weeks of senior season. 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.
- Run blocking
- Pass blocking
- ELITE potential
- Positional uncertainty (LT or RT)
- Can add weight to frame
- Can add functional strength as he matures
Don’t get it twisted: Okunlola is absolutely the 5-star prospect he’s billed to be, and it won’t be long until he’s in the lineup for the Canes.
As I said, Miami has seldom had true Tackles on offense, and much less have they had a Tackle of Okunlola’s build, strength, pedigree, and potential. Keeping him on the bench would be like buying a new Ferrari just to leave it in the garage. You get a car like that to drive it, and you recruit a player like Okunlola to play him.
Biggins’s comparison for Okunlola is former Stanford OT and 1st round NFL Draft pick Andrus Peat. While Peat is a bit larger physically than Okunlola, from a skill and potential standpoint I think this comparison is spot on. Whereas previous OTs that Miami has recruited have been developmental prospects, Okunlola and fellow 5-star OT signee Francis Mauigoa are elite, play now prospects.
Speaking of which, that brings me to another point. The additional variable regarding Okunlola’s future position and playing time at Miami is the fact that Miami signed another 5-star OT in this class. Francis Mauigoa is another elite tackle who profiles just as well as Okunlola, and some would make the argument that Mauigoa is better. For the record, Mauigoa is the higher rated player so do with that what you will. Personally, I’m good with either player at LT (the glamor position on the line), but more important is bookending the line with both elite talents. As to which one may be better at which position, we’ll have a piece on that coming up shortly.
If everything goes according to plan, Okunlola will leave Miami in a few years as a high draft pick with plenty of awards and accolades to his credit. In terms of the immediate present, absent injury, I truly don’t see a logical reason that Okunlola doesn’t play in 2023 for the Canes.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.