By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Bobby Carr, the head football coach at Edgewood Academy in Elmore, Ala., hasn’t put down his phone very much in the last 48 hours.
The reason is simple, his super athletic defensive end from Nigeria, Prince Tega Wanogho Jr., found out he had enough credits to graduate this May, instead of in 2016, his original exit date.
Wanogho Jr, who came to America in August as a basketball player, has gone from a prospect to watch for many college recruiters to a highly sought after prospect who can help serve a need for many. Ole Miss is just one of the many schools that have turned up the interest on that front.
LSU, Florida, Clemson, Mississippi State, Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina and others from around the country are also in the mix. In fact, Ed Orgeron, hired Wednesday to coach the defensive linemen at LSU, called Carr to set up a in-person meeting with Wanogho Jr bright and early Thursday morning. Carr said that Orgeron would be joined by LSU’s new defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele, who was just at Alabama.
How Wanogho Jr., went from being classified as a 2016 prospect to 2015 all goes back to some extra work on the records.
“We met with our counselor and principal and after reviewing his transcripts from Nigeria, and all of his stuff he has taken at Edgewood, he’s going to have enough credits to graduate this year,” said Carr, who added Wanogho Jr made all As the fall semester. “He was pretty emotional. He said he loved Edgewood. He came to America to have the opportunity to hopefully get a basketball scholarship and have a chance to be successful and help his family. Now it’s worked out where he’s going to play college football. He said he felt like that’s what he needed to do for himself and his family.”
Carr said that with his shoes off, Wanogho Jr was 6-foot-7 1/2. His weight, as of Monday, was 247 pounds. The first day Wanogho Jr got to America, the football players were doing conditioning tests and Carr remembers him wanting to play. The players were running the 40-yard dash and Carr didn’t have a size 17 cleat to give him.
“He comes over with these Jordan hi-top tennis shoes on, and with no technique, and he runs 4.61,” Carr said. “I knew it was faster than that, so I took another kid that has offers from a number of other schools, who is a true 4.4 guy, and I put him 5 yards in front of Tega. I told him when I blow the whistle, I want you to chase him. I blew the whistle and they both take off and I thought there is no way he is going to catch him. He got to the 35 and grabbed him and just stopped running.”
Carr said he still doesn’t know exactly how fast Wanogho Jr. is, but he knows that he is a specimen in regards to his overall athleticism. He also added that his end, who made 82 tackles in 2014, is as green as grass when it comes to playing America’s favorite sport.
“I can tell you so many stories. The second day we were running routes against air and you catch a ball and you have to get into the end zone with no defense,” Carr said, adding that Wanogho also played tight end. “He was in the second or third group and he caught the ball and my secondary coach was back there and he said ‘Tega, get in the end zone.’ And he said ‘Coach, where is the end zone.’ The first football game he ever saw was the one he played in. I knew he would be special after the second day. I told him that I know he’s a basketball player, but there is going to be a lot of college football coaches coming by to see you.”
Wanogho Jr’s answer to that statement “college football, what is that?”
“I think he is the only high school football player in America that doesn’t know who Nick Saban is,” Carr said. “He even said ‘Who is this Nick Saban guy?'”
Carr did tell Wanogho about Orgeron and he said “Is that the guy in the Blind Side movie?” I said yes and he kind of laughed. He said he was funny. That’s all he really said. What was even funnier was Orgeron said that we could make a sequel to the Blind Side. He told me “He knows I was in that movie, don’t he?”
When it comes to making a decision on a school, Carr felt like a final word would actually come after signing day .
“He is probably going to sign after signing day because he is probably going to want to make sure he gets all his visits in,” Carr said. “Tega is No. 1 the best kid you will ever meet in your life. When we travel, usually you will see hot shot guys on your team hanging together. When we were eating on the road, he’s eating with our freshmen and our managers.
“He makes everyone around him feel better about themselves. He’s got this air about him that everyone is attracted to. People are in kind of awe of him. He makes everyone else so great. A kindergarten class came up the other day and he was just talking to them. Just a super, super kid.”
Wanogho Jr is being recruited to Ole Miss by defensive line coach Chris Kiffin. Jason Jones, the Rebels’ cornerbacks coach, has also called. Kiffin told Carr that he would be by the school pretty soon. Carr said that Kiffin was worried about getting into the process a little late.
“I said look, he doesn’t know the difference between Ole Miss, Oregon or whoever,” Carr said. “He wants to stay kind of down in the Southeast. Even though this isn’t his home, he’s living with a host family and he’s comfortable. He spoke with our team two days ago to tell them what decision he made and he was in tears. He said he loved the school and he loved the guys for making him feel welcome in America. He kind of wants to stay close by to where he can get on the road and in three, four, five hours get here.”