“Who is here to see you this time?” his teacher asked.
“Notre Dame,” Ekanem responded.
The visit in Haddock’s office ended with Ekanem picking up his 16th offer. When he returned to class and announced the news, his teacher, a Notre Dame fan, erupted in applause, as did the rest of the class.
For Ekanem the offer was “an honor,” but it was also a normal result for a prospect who has been seeing his stock go up in between his junior and senior campaigns.
Besides Notre Dame, Ekanem recently picked up offers from Oregon, Michigan State, North Carolina and N.C. State. Florida and Tennessee have visited and expressed interest.
Add those schools to the others that have offered – Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Michigan, Duke, Boston College, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Temple, Connecticut, Central Florida, Vanderbilt and Illinois – and Ekanem has built up a solid resume of college suitors.
“When I get these offers they come two at a time, one day after another, every other week,” Ekanem said. “It’s a great feeling. Once you know Oregon offers you, that’s obviously a big school and it clicks in your head that others are going to offer you because Oregon offered you and Notre Dame. … But I was excited when they did that.”
Programs have told Ekanem he would fit in best as a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 end, Ekanem said, but he expects playing as a 3-4 linebacker would be best for him.
“Going against a 6-6, 310-pound monster wouldn’t be fun every down,” Ekanem joked.
Ekanem totaled 75 tackles (60 solo), 17 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles and 18 quarterback pressures as a junior defensive end. Next season, he expects to top those numbers and Haddock said Ekanem will also play a bigger role on offense. Haddock said Ekanem has grown from 6-3, 230-pounds last year to 6-4, 245 pounds this offseason.
“We’re going to cut him lose on defense, he’s a stud,” Haddock said. “But offensively we’re adding more packages for him to get him the ball because he’s such a big mismatch. He’s looking great.”