Notre Dame Football Recruiting

After Just One Season, 2019 DE David Ojabo Emerges As National Recruit

April 18, 2018
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Notre Dame had only been in contact with David Ojabo‍ for a few days before extending a scholarship offer to the 2019 defensive end from New Jersey’s Blair Academy on Wednesday.

“It means they really see something in me,” the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder tells Irish Sports Daily.

But Notre Dame’s accelerated recruiting timetable is nothing compared to the time it’s taken Ojabo to emerge as a national recruit.

Born in Nigeria, Ojabo lived in Scotland before coming to the United States a couple years ago for athletics, although not football.

“I came over here to play soccer actually and basketball,” he explains. “I just picked up on football at the last second.”

Blair Academy head coach Jim Saylor approached Ojabo about playing the game before the 2017 season, but the response he received wasn’t initially encouraging.

“I was like, ‘Oh no. I’m not trying to get hit. I’m not trying to get injured,’” Ojabo laughs.

His mother had the same feelings at first.

“My mom was scared to death,” he says. “She didn’t want me to play. My dad, he has a man’s mindset, so he was open to it. Of course, he was still scared, but he said I should try it. My mom didn’t want me playing at all.”

But Saylor convinced him to give it a shot and, “Here I am today,” says Ojabo.

And his mother has come around as well.

“A mom’s a mom, she’s still going to say, ‘Be careful,’ and all,” he explains. “But they came and watched me play and saw I was doing good and was comfortable, so they’re down with it.”

Saylor tailored his system to give Ojabo the freedom to let his natural gifts shine.

“I pretty much have to go get the quarterback or the running back,” the defensive end says.
“With my athleticism, that’s possible. Obviously, my skill and reading the game will come over time and could be better, but for the most part, it came easy.”

Still, there was a bit of a learning curve.

“I didn’t know there were all of these plays,” he chuckles. “I thought they just said, ‘Hit the quarterback,’ and you go get the ball. I didn’t know there were gaps and all of that. Watching it from TV, it looked easy, but there’s a whole lot to it.”

With offers from dozens of major programs after a single season of playing, Ojabo is now devoting his attention to football.

His current offer sheet includes schools like Penn State, Tennessee, Syracuse, Rutgers, Baylor, Michigan, Nebraska, Cal, Boston College, Vanderbilt, Duke, Yale, Columbia, Harvard and Cornell among others.

“It’s just a blessing to even have all of these offers to start with,” he says. “I’m not trying to single out anybody.”

The offer from the Irish clearly means a lot.

“It was a good feeling because I know how big-time the school is,” he says. “They don’t recruit just anybody. The fact that they’re willing to offer me this early.”

Ojabo plays at the same school as 2018 Notre Dame defensive end target Jayson Oweh, who ended up signing with Penn State. Ojabo says he hasn’t talked to Oweh about Notre Dame yet, but will be sure to do so soon.

“When we sit down, we’ll definitely talk about it,” he says. “If he saw something good in it, then I wouldn’t be surprised if I do too.”

Elston explained why Notre Dame felt comfortable offering so quickly.

“He was saying he liked my athleticism and how I’m raw and how he’d like me to come down and visit sometime,” Ojabo recalls.

He thinks he’ll be able to make it out to South Bend for that visit sometime in June, when his parents make the trip over from Scotland.

“I just want to really experience the culture and see what the whole campus is like, meet some of the players, meet all of the coaches. I want to see their Business School because that’s really big for me because that’s what I’m going to study in college. I just want to get a full experience to know what I’ll be in for and what they’re about.”

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