Want to know a secret? Olaitan Oguntodu can play a little football.
While plenty of blue-chip prospects get discovered in the spring evaluation period, many remain off the recruiting radar screen for one reason or another. That was the case for Oguntodu, a Mesquite (Texas) Horn safety, until he started to send out an impressive video tape.
That tape displayed everything that makes Oguntodu great.
On one play, he's lined up 4-yards off the ball and coming up and making a big hit in run support. Then on the next play he's playing man-to-man against the opponent's top receiver. Then on the next play he's blitzing through the line and killing the quarterback.
Think of last year's Metroplex head-hunter Ishie Oduegwu of Denton Ryan, but with only more pure speed and a 6-foot, 200-pound frame to boot. Oduegwu was a well known commodity before he signed with Texas, and Oguntodu is just starting to make a name.
"I honestly might be a diamond in the rough," Oguntodu, who has a 4.45-second time in the 40-yard dash and racked up 50 solo tackles as a junior, said. "We have Mon Williams at our school, and he gets my vote for the top running back in Texas. He's one of my good friends, but he gets all of the publicity. When you're playing on defense, it's some times hard to catch the eye of the coach."
It is, but the level of difficulty drops significantly when college coaches put in Oguntodu's scouting tape.
"I honestly believe I'm a balanced player," Oguntodu said. "Since I live in Texas, I watch a lot of Darren Woodson. I can cover, and I can come up and fill the hole like him. I try to pattern my game like him. I can cover the receiver, but I can also come up and punish you."
Horn coach Don Payne thinks Oguntodu is something special.
"We play Olaitan in a lot of different roles," Payne said. "He's a very talented player, who helps us as much in run support as he does against the past. I think he's still one of the best kept secrets in Texas."
Oguntodu admits that hiding in the shadow of Williams is at times tough, but he knows going against one of the best backs in Texas in practice helps make him a better player.
"Mon is one of my best friends," Oguntodu said. "He makes me better as much as I make him better. He knows that I'm coming for him, and he knows that he's going to have to shake me. Going against an all-state running back in every practice, it's a plus."
So are all of the things that Oguntodu brings to the table.
Along with the natural football ability that he's been honing since he was a 9-year old playing little league football, Oguntodu is blessed with a natural intelligence that can be seen both on and off the field. He already is fully qualified with a 3.7 grade-point average in his core classes and an 850 on the SAT.
"I was born in Nigeria," Oguntodu said. "I've been in America since I was 6, so I've always worked hard to make sure that I'm not behind in anything and that I'm better in a lot of areas. I like public speaking. I'm thinking about majoring in business communication. I want to go to a good school that has a good business program."
And that's where his future comes into play.
Kansas, UTEP, SMU and Baylor have already offered him a scholarship. He said Purdue is about to offer him and teams like Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma are all on the radar and are scheduled to come by this spring for practices and see what he's all about.
"Growing up I followed Michael Bishop at Kansas State," he said. "I really liked him. I was heartbroken when they lost to Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game. From then on, I just started to enjoy college football. I like how Oklahoma played their safeties when it won its championship. But now that I'm at this level, I'm just a fan."
And college coaches are quickly going to become fans of him once they get a chance to evaluate him. So don't be surprised if the secret gets out soon enough, because the fact is that Oguntodu is one of the best, if not the best safety in the state of Texas.