Sunny Odogwu made a big impression on St. Frances' football team during the fall of 2011, but it was his first year of organized football and the Nigeria native needed a little more time to develop his skills before heading into a top-notch college program.
After graduating from St. Frances, Odogwu spent last fall at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., honing his skills and drawing more and more attention from college coaches. At 6 feet 9, 315 pounds, the offensive tackle had more than 30 offers. Last week, he chose Miami.
"I felt comfortable among them," said Odogwu, 19. "I'm all about God and I prayed about it and I felt deeply. I feel like the coaches there are going to take me where I want to go and the academics there are really, really good. Coach Al Golden, Coach [Art] Kehoe, Coach [Hurlie] Brown, all of them want good people, so I thought this was the place to go."
Odogwu, who heads to Miami next week, opted for the Hurricanes over Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
St. Frances coach Messay Hailemariam said Odogwu had offers after the Panthers' 2011 season.
"I thought he needed to get a year more under his belt," Hailemariam said. "He was a qualifier in terms of being a 3.2 student and having the necessary SAT, but his IQ for the game of football was a little behind, so I thought he would get lost in the shuffle. It was such an amazing season he had at Hargrave. He went from three or four offers to everybody coming to see him."
Hailemariam said Miami would be a good fit for Odogwu despite an ongoing NCAA investigation and the university's decision to self-sanction last fall and take itself out of bowl consideration.
"They're going through some rough spots now and they're revamping the program," he said, "so now they're on the upside with the program coming back. They don't truly have the blue chipper All-Americans accepting scholarships there, so I think it's a good chance for Sunny to get on the field and gain experience to help him delevelop himself to become a worthwhile [NFL] prospect."
Odogwu said he is looking forward to getting to know everyone from coaches and teammates to professors and classmates when he gets to Miami, where he plans to keep "learning every day" on and off the field. He plans a double major in international business management and political science.