Five-star safety Jeffrey Okudah commits to Ohio State

ByMax Olson via ESPN logo
Sunday, January 8, 2017

SAN ANTONIO --Ohio Statestruck gold in Texas again on Saturday, with a commitment from five-star safety Jeffrey Okudah, the No. 8-ranked recruit in the ESPN 300.

Okudah, the nation's No. 1 safety prospect out of Grand Prairie, Texas, was one of seven recruits who announced commitments during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio. He became the highest-rated member of the Buckeyes' third-ranked recruiting class and the Buckeyes' 10th pledge from a top-100 recruit.

Okudah talked at length about his recruitment process in a letter to his mom, who is sick with lymphoma, which was posted to The Players' Tribune.

"I don't want to be just another student-athlete while I'm at Ohio State," Okudah wrote. "I really want to one day be remembered for what I accomplished while I was there. I know that's saying a lot given all the great players who have come through the program, but that's exactly the kind of challenge I'm looking for."

Ohio State has now landed three of the top 10 recruits in the state of Texas, with Okudah, linebacker Baron Browning and running back J.K. Dobbins. The Buckeyes are also in the running for the No. 1 prospect in Texas, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who plans to make his signing day decision on Feb. 1.

The Buckeyes weren't the only winners of the 17th annual Army All-American Bowl.Stanfordlanded one of the nation's best offensive linemen in Foster Sarell, a native of Graham, Washington. The No. 12 recruit in the ESPN 300 spurned his home-state school, Washington, as well as Southern California, Nebraska and Notre Dame to commit to the Cardinal.

"It was close. The recruiting process made it hard," Sarell said. "But I always thought Stanford was where I was going to end up since I was in the seventh grade."

With the addition of Sarell and fellow Army All-American offensive tackle Walker Little, Stanford has now landed nine ESPN 300 offensive linemen since David Shaw took over as coach in 2011.

Cornerback Darnay Holmes, ESPN's No. 39 overall recruit, announced his commitment toUCLA. The nation's No. 5-rated corner from Calabasas, California, became the Bruins' fourth commitment in the past two days. He chose UCLA over Ohio State, USC and Nebraska.

Holmes revealed after the game that he had been secretly committed to USC this week and, earlier in his recruiting process, was committed "on the low" to Ohio State as well. He eventually decided on UCLA at the end of the week and will enroll there on Sunday.

"They've got the blueprint laid out for me," Holmes said. "It's been God's plan since I was born to go to UCLA. It's the hometown school, and I've never played in the Rose Bowl my whole life. It's a blessing to play there the next three to four years and change the culture."

Michiganadded to its No. 4-ranked recruiting class with a commitment from Aledo (Texas) High School offensive tackle Chuck Filiaga, the nation's No. 13-ranked recruit. Filiaga became the 17th ESPN 300 pledge in the Wolverines' class, and five of those elite recruits are offensive linemen. Filiaga chose Michigan over Oklahoma and Nebraska.

"It wasn't really close, to be honest," Filiaga said. "After my visit, I fell in love with the campus and everything."

Filiaga delivered his commitment to coach Jim Harbaugh in December during an in-home visit but kept that secret until Saturday. He joked that Harbaugh reacted to his commitment like a kid who'd just consumed three energy drinks.

Las Vegas Bishop Gorman safety Bubba Bolden, the No. 149 recruit in the ESPN 300, pickedUSCfor the second time in his recruiting process. Bolden had decommitted from USC in July but ultimately decided to rejoin the Trojans' class after considering Arizona State and Ohio State.

Arizona Statemissed out on Bolden but landed a commitment from Wylie (Texas) East running back Eno Benjamin. The ESPN 300 back had previously been committed to Iowa and also had offers from Baylor, Michigan, Texas and Utah.

Three-star receiver Jamire Calvin surprised by committing toOregon State, a school that was not one of his four finalists going into the week. Calvin had long been leaning toward Nebraska but had a change of heart late in the week and chose the Beavers.