Ken Ekanem doesn't want to think about college football recruiting right now.
That's because he's postponing the next step of his evaluation of colleges until his high school season is over. Clifton (Va.) Centreville is riding high with a 12-1 record and just beat the team that spelled their demise in last season's playoffs.
Now, Centreville is in Saturday's state semifinals and with a chance at a state title is little more than a week away, Ekanem has sworn off thinking too much about recruiting until his season is over.
“I think of it as one thing at time right now,” the four-star prospect said. “I'll do all the recruiting stuff after the season. That's what I've been planning on since the summer.
Still, he made time to discuss his college options.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound outside linebacker who has 18 scholarship offers is down to five schools: Oregon, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
There will be two factors in Ekanem's decision that bear watching: the type of defense a program runs and what type of business connections a college can give him after schooling.
Oregon has both, and a coach that has caught Ekanem's fancy.
“I like Chip Kelly,” the four-star prospect said. “He's a players coach. He's a very good coach. They have a good connection with Nike. If I went there I would want to go into sports marketing.”
Ekanem added that he's also impressed with how the Ducks are able to get the most out of their players.
As far as business connections go, no school has an upper hand on Notre Dame in Ekanem's mind.
“It's the most prestigious school in the nation,” he said. “All the alumni have good connections. If I didn't make it in the pros and I wanted to work in a big corporation, I'm sure there a bunch of alumni working in corporations from Notre Dame. I'd definetely be set for life if I went there.
“Academics are really good. They run the 3-4 and have a really good defense. In years to come with all the young talent they have, I see a lot of upside.”
Pittsburgh has an interesting tie to Ekanem. Pitt recruiting coordinator Tony Dews is an alumni of Centreville High School. That has helped the Panthers build a strong connection with Ekanem, who also said he likes the fact that Pitt is moving to the ACC next season.
Then, there's the pros and cons of living in Pittsburgh.
“It's in the middle of a city,” Ekanem said of the campus. “I like that a lot. But I'm a (Baltimore) Ravens fan. Us Ravens fans don't like Pittsburgh, but I think Pittsburgh as a city it a great city.”
Ekanem also sees early playing time as a strong possibility in Pitt's 3-4 defense.
Virginia Tech, as it always does, offers stability with Frank Beamer at the helm.
“He's a walking legend right now, I'd say,” Ekanem said. “Bud Foster is another one, he's one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation. They just signed new contracts so they're going to be there for five years plus.
“I would fit in well into how they coach, their style of coaching and their scheme. That's the scheme that my team right now is running. I'd fit in.”
North Carolina seems written off unless they suddenly emerge from their NCAA mess unscathed, yet Ekanem still counts them as a team he's considering. He had a great visit there this summer before Butch Davis was fired amidst widespread allegations of NCAA rules violations.
“It was one of my best visits I went on,” Ekanem said. “I felt really comfortable there. I thought it was a really great place but then they got in all the trouble and fired Butch Davis. I really liked Butch Davis. I would love to play for them but unfortunately I can't with all the trouble that's going on.”
Ekanem hasn't taken any official visits. He's hoping he doesn't have the opportunity for another week.