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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame DT Target Hero Kanu The Latest (Maybe Greatest) PPI Talent

July 21, 2021

Hero Kanu‍ had played soccer in Germany for seven years when he began to realize his athletic gifts could be well-suited for football.

Eventually, he linked up with Brandon Collier of PPI Recruits, a program that specializes in developing top European players and connecting them with major college football programs in the United States.

One of Collier’s initial goals is always trying to help the European kids grasp the mentality that Americans play the game with and how serious football is in the States.

“Of course, it takes time to put that in your head,” he says.

At the same time, Collier (pictured above with Kanu) tries to teach his players everything he learned during his playing days, which included a successful career at UMass.

“Learning how to bend, learning how to do certain things that I was taught and basically learn how to play the game,” says Collier.

“He was already blessed with the natural size and from the soccer days, had the natural athletic ability, but showing him how to do certain moves and what coaches are looking to see.

“I've been developing him for the last two years. He's got the most potential that I have ever seen from a kid at his age. The sky's the limit for him.”

Kanu had grown to love the game through playing and watching NFL games on television and also recognized his own potential.

“We've been working out together for a long time and I told him, 'Yeah, I feel like I have a shot at making it to the NFL,’” Kanu remembers of a conversation he had with Collier.

“I told him I want to be the best version of myself and he said I should go to high school. So that's what I'm doing now.”

Kanu made the move to California last October to enroll at Santa Margarita Catholic High School.

“It's been a crazy year with COVID and everything going on,” he says. “We had a pushed-back season. We played in the spring. It was an amazing experience.

“I'm living in South Orange County, which is a nice area and I have a nice host family. I really love them and I hope they love me too. I have great coaches at my school.”

The transition was eased a bit by the fact that Santa Margarita Catholic is coached by Anthony Rouzier, who was Collier’s roommate in college.

“There's some familiarity and that kind of helped out,” Collier says. “He has a pretty good host family there that showed him a good time. Like I said, it's not an easy adjustment for a kid leaving your family as a 15-year-old kid, but that just shows you the mindset of the international kids.

“Football is what's important to them and they'll leave their family to get an opportunity to play at the highest level of American football. So that's what he did.”

Playing in the Trinity League allowed Kanu the chance to play against some of the country’s top teams like St. John Bosco, Mater Dei and Servite.

He’d already had a scholarship from Penn State before arriving in the States and quickly piled them up during the spring season, landing offers from schools like USC, Texas A&M, LSU, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Kentucky, Ole Miss, TCU, Michigan and Colorado in the month of March alone.

That continued as Texas, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State and UCLA offered in April followed by Alabama and Oklahoma in May.

Then he hit the camp circuit and continued to add more.

“I would say he was arguably the best player at every camp we went to,” says Collier. “He's a five-star kid, so really just teaching him the game, the ins and outs of the game, the mental part, the physical part, the athletic part. He's really getting all of that down. He's a smart kid, so he's picked it up pretty fast. It's paying off for him.”

Notre Dame extended an offer earlier this month and it’s one Kanu is taking seriously. He’s informed Irish Sports Daily that he has a locked in an unofficial visit for July 28th.

“I think he's the best defensive tackle in his class,” says Collier. “He's supposed to be in the Class of 2023, but he came over here and reclassified up. He's young for his grade. He'll be a 17-year-old college freshman.

“His potential is off the charts, being 6-5, 295 pounds with his athletic ability from soccer. I think under a coach like Coach (Mike) Elston or wherever he goes, if he goes to Ohio State, if he goes to Notre Dame, if he goes to Georgia, wherever he picks, I think somebody can really untap a first-round draft pick.”

Over just the last few years, PPI Recruits has exploded, becoming a regular source of talent for colleges across the country. Current Notre Dame defensive lineman Alex Ehrensberger was part of PPI.

“It's exciting,” Collier says of the explosion of his company. “I kind of knew it was going to happen, but I would be lying if I said I thought it was going to happen this fast, but with the trust of God and hard work, anything is possible.

“It's one of those things, once you get the ball rolling with one or two guys and they go to college and be successful, then more and more colleges open up. This summer was a great summer because I didn't have to make all the phone calls. Coaches were calling me. It’s a testament to the last four years of hard work that we've been putting in, so I can't imagine what the next years are going to be like.”

Collier expects the 2022 class to include between 20-25 Division I prospects and believes he’ll be able to double that number and more in the coming years. Collier points to some of the company’s earliest clients, guys like Julius Welschof, who will be a senior defensive lineman at Michigan this season.

“The potential of this organization is really high. I believe one day there will be 50 to 100 kids a year signing Division-I scholarships from the organization.”

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