"Coach Elston knew what I wanted to hear." - Richard Jibunor

March 28, 2017
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Richard Jibunor left Nigeria through a foreign exchange program to attend Athens Christian School (Ga.) when he was 14 years old. He left his parents and younger brother to leave the crisis in his home country and now has turned into one of the nation’s most intriguing recruits in the 2018 class.

The 6-foot-4, 206-pounder holds offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and as of Tuesday, Notre Dame.  

“I spoke to coach Mike Elston today, and he was the one who offered me today,” Jibunor told Irish Sports Daily. “He told me how he liked my film and the way he wants to use me. He explained the kind of defense they play and how he wants me to rush the pass rusher.

“He wants me to a be a stand-up defensive end and only drops down once in a while.”

Attacking the quarterback was music to the four-star prospects ears.  

“Coach Elston knew what I wanted to hear,” laughed Jibunor.

Coach Elston knew what I wanted to hear. - 2018 DE Richard Jibunor
Jibunor has had the attention of many colleges for quite some time but this weekend he won Defensive Line MVP at the Atlanta Opening Regional, and it turned some heads.

“I gave it all my best,” said Jibunor. “I am someone who loves competing I never back down no matter how hard or how badly I might be getting beat up. It’s football, and you have to play every down.

“I went there to compete. I was just going there to get better. I was giving 100 percent effort the whole time. I was exhausted afterward because I gave it all of my heart.”  

Maybe the most impressive thing about the MVP award was the fact Jibunor has only played football for two seasons. He had played basketball and ran track as a freshman, but then football peaked his interest.

“I was a small forward in basketball, and I had played pretty physical,” he recalled. “I had some speed too. I walked up to my football coach and asked him if I could train as a football player. He said ‘Oh sure, Richard. What position do you want to play?’

“I told him I had no idea about where to play. I said he knew about my size, speed, and that he would know the best fit for me. He said he didn’t want to make me play where I didn’t want to play.”

At the time, it was evident his coach had someone who was faster and bigger than most kids on the field, so receiver was where Jibunor started his football career.

“Initially because of my speed, I was playing a receiver,” stated Jibunor. “All I was doing was running go routes or a backside post. They had a lot of plays I didn’t know how to keep up with, so he would give me a sign for a go route on whatever cornerback was playing on me.

However, that didn’t last long. Jibunor started playing both sides of the ball and then eventually made a move to a position to truly show his athleticism.

“I began to play defensive end, but then we played a team with really fast running backs and receivers. I was the fastest guy on our team, so my coach told me he couldn’t play me as a receiver and then play defensive end because I was running full speed the whole time.

“I hate going out of the game because I hate losing. Coach was like ‘I’ll play you as a safety. All you need to do is stop the ball.’ I didn’t know how to read coverages or anything. When I saw the quarterback hand the ball to the running back, and he goes right, I would chase him down. That’s all I was doing playing in my first year, and I led the team in tackles, receiving yards, and touchdowns.”

I am looking at the academic aspects of each school to make sure the degree is recognized and well respected. - 2018 DE Richard Jibunor
When it comes to recruiting, Jibunor is focused on making sure he makes a decision for his academic future. Football is important, but his priority will be the quality of education.  

“I came here for is education, and my mom wants that for me,” explained Jibunor. “I am looking at the academic aspects of each school to make sure the degree is recognized and well respected. That’s where my recruitment is right now. I am looking at which program is going to be the best for me with academics and athletic excellence.”

It’s also not a surprise the Athens native already has a couple of majors in mind.

“I have been thinking about it lately,” he said. “Economics and Business Management are two majors I have been considering.”

The good news for the Irish is Jibunor is well-aware of the academic and athletic prestige in South Bend. Jibunor had been waiting for an offer from Notre Dame, and Tuesday’s news was well received by the Athens Christian School star.  

“Notre Dame is one of the schools I am excited about,” stated Jibunor. “Historically, they are nice, and it’s a school I have been hoping for an offer from. When it came, I was excited, and I am fired up to research Notre Dame more.”

Notre Dame is also on the short list of programs Jibunor wants to visit this offseason. With the offer so new, he doesn’t have a date to visit South Bend, but he will get to Notre Dame before he makes his decision.

“I will definitely visit Notre Dame sometime soon, but I don’t know when,” said Jibunor. “Alabama, Auburn, and Tennessee are three schools I want to visit soon.”

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