No program has been more active in recruiting defensive end Michael Onuoha (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) than Missouri. But following an official visit to Oklahoma this weekend, the Sooners are neck and neck with the Tigers.
“It’s tough. It is definitely something that is 50-50 right now,” Onuoha said. “I’m going to talk it over with my coaches, my family and make the best decision for me.”
Last week Onuoha said he was going to make his announcement on signing day, but he was singing a different tune Sunday. He said he is going to decide either late Monday night or early Tuesday so he can enjoy his signing ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.
Onuoha was originally scheduled to take an official visit to OU two weeks ago but the visit was postponed so that he could experience the full college atmosphere as OU hadn't started classes for the spring term yet. Postponing the visit was a win-win as Onuoha said the atmosphere of the weekend was one of his favorite parts.
“I liked being around the players. All the people were phenomenal,” Onuoha said. “Everybody remembered my name. I know it’s a little thing, but it meant a lot to me for everybody to know who I was.”
Onuoha, 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, was a virtual unknown before a stellar camp at OU during the summer. Now he’s a three-star prospect with his choice of two top programs.
He was hosted by defensive ends R.J. Washington and David King, and they told him Onuoha could see the field early if he puts the work in. With Ronnell Lewis and Frank Alexander gone, the defensive end spot has opened up. And if OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright continues to rotate the ends like he did in 2011, Onuoha could see time.
In talking with Wright, Onuoha said the coaches see him in the mold of Frank Alexander. Onuoha will have to put on weight, but he said he is looking forward to hitting the weight room harder than he ever has before.
Besides the camp, Onuoha took an unofficial visit to OU on Thanksgiving weekend. But this weekend did have a different feeling being on an official visit.
“The first time I was here nobody knew me, obviously, and I didn’t talk to anybody,” Onuoha said. “I’m definitely more comfortable with everything.”
Onuoha said he was also able to talk with new linebackers coach Tim Kish, and Onuoha said that interaction has him excited because of the passion Kish has for his new job.
The Tigers aren’t out of things, however. Onuoha said things were even better than expected last week on his official visit to Missouri, and Missouri has done a good job of recruiting Oklahoma high school players and making them successful.
Entering the weekend, it wasn’t an outlandish statement to say Missouri was in the lead. But now? It truly is a race to the finish.
“Things have changed quite a bit,” Onuoha said. “I was kind of skeptical, at first, about OU, but now I’m definitely open to everything.
The Tigers offered Onuoha in December and have been in constant contact with Onuoha since his summer camp performance. The Sooners offered earlier this month, and Onuoha said a key for him is to try to block out the peer pressure. With Edmond, Okla., being less than 40 miles from campus, a lot of classmates want and expect him to pick the Sooners.
“Being an Oklahoma kid that’s what you’re supposed to want to do,” Onuoha said. “That’s what people have been telling me. I understand it a little bit more after this weekend, but I still have to do what is going to make me happy and what is going to put me in the best position to succeed.”