High School Sports

How a little-known LB from Providence Day burst onto the recruiting scene Tuesday

Providence Day junior Osita Ekwonu picked up four Power 5 college football scholarship offers Tuesday.
Providence Day junior Osita Ekwonu picked up four Power 5 college football scholarship offers Tuesday. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

When he woke up Tuesday morning, Providence Day junior linebacker Osita Ekwonu wasn’t a big name in college football recruiting circles.

Ekwonu had scholarship offers from such schools as Charlotte, Duke, Wake Forest and Syracuse. But things changed quite a bit Tuesday afternoon. In the space of a few hours, Ekwonu had offers from Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State and Penn State.

“I knew Osita was going to get something,” Providence Day coach Adam Hastings said. “All it took was one. Wake Forest offered him last year and Duke came in and offered him a couple weeks ago. That got some attention.

“It got really serious when (Penn State head coach) James Franklin came to our school and saw him from a distance and then he saw his film. After that, he said, ‘We’ll have some people (Nittany Lions coaches) in here.’ Everybody falls in love with Osita. He’s 6-2, 220 pounds and he can run.”

Providence Day's Cody Cater (right) hands off to Osita Ekwonu during a game last season. Ekwonu is climbing the recruiting charts this month. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Last season, Ekwonu had 101 tackles, three sacks and three pass breakups. He ran the ball 67 times for 500 yards and 13 touchdowns, making the All-CISAA team for the second straight season. He was an honorable mention all-state pick.

On Tuesday, Penn State’s defensive coordinator, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and Michigan assistant Pep Hamilton, a former star quarterback at West Charlotte High, all visited Providence Day’s campus. The coaches couldn’t talk to Ekwonu, per NCAA rules, but each coach offered a scholarship before he left.

North Carolina reached Ekwonu by phone with an offer.

“It’s just the beginning,” Hastings said. “Georgia is coming (Wednesday). Notre Dame will come Wednesday or Thursday. He’s about to blow up.”

▪ Ekwonu’s identical twin brother, 6-4, 290-pound Ikem, a lineman, has offers from Appalachian State, Toledo and other Mid-American Conference schools. Hastings said there’s been interest from North Carolina, N.C. State and Penn State.

▪ Providence Day sophomores Jacolbe Cowan and Porter Rooks also added Ohio State offers Tuesday. Cowan, a 6-6, 250-pound strong side defensive end, is ranked No. 7 overall in the class of 2020 by 247Sports and No. 2 at his position. Rooks, a 6-1, 180-pound receiver, is the No. 3 receiver in the class of 2020 and the No. 10 overall recruit. Rooks also added a Penn State offer this week. The Nittany Lions had offered Cowan in the fall, Hastings said.