(*Editor's note...What the heck does "Commitment to Eight" mean? It is our new recurring title for recruit commitments referencing a commitment to work towards the Gopher's Eighth National Championship.)
Aki Okonji took a trip to visit Minnesota at the end of March and before the Georgia native left, he had become the first DE commitment in the class of 2018.
Okonji plays for South Gwinnett HS in the suburbs of Atlanta and is teammates running back commit, Terrell Smith. They play in Georgia’s largest class winning their first state playoff game this past season before losing in the round of 16. He is an early top 10 DE in the state of Georgia.
Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated ($cout).
"I knew the academics were elite at Minnesota, but coming and seeing how the culture was changing things and the coaches just seem to be building something special with all the values I was raised with. I'm going to be playing defensive end , and I'll be playing standing up from time to time, but mostly with my hand in the dirt. I love that as that's what I play already and was looking to play at the next level. I'm now done with the recruiting process and I'm 100% committed. I'm not visiting anywhere else in the foreseeable future as I'm only thinking about trying to get up to Minneapolis again sometime this summer."
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 240 lbs.
40 Time: 4.8
Big 4 Ratings:
Power 5 Offers - Michigan State, Boston College, Indiana, Kansas State, Wake Forest, Rutgers
- Scout - 3 stars
- Rivals - 3 stars (5.5 rating)
- 247 - 3 stars (86 rating)
- ESPN - n/a
Junior year highlights:
In Two Words - if you have to remember just two things about this player...
- Elite Competition - plays with and against elite competition
Ben Perry is the comparison that jumps out at me. On the athletic side, plays high school for one of the better programs in his state and plays with a handful of other high caliber players going to other P5 programs. I think that Okonji is a stronger athlete with more of a chance to be a regular contributor.
I think Okonji is the type of “turn-the-corner” end that can play in a three-point stance or standing up in the right situations.
Impact on Other Prospects?
Just the first DE commit and there will likely be at least another. We are fairly young at DE (4 freshmen and 2 sophomores) so it’s conceivable that they only add 2 in this class.