Faith Interview!

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Faith Ekakitie wanted three things from the university he would select to pursue an education and football career.

First, the native of Toronto, Canada, wanted to play in a warm climate. Second, he wanted to attend a large school in the heart of a big city. Third, he wanted to play for a big-time program in a powerhouse conference.

But sometime between his junior year of high school and National Signing Day on Feb. 1, 2012, Ekakitie had a revelation of what was truly important in the student-athlete experience.

“There are kids that do make decisions on that. I’m not going to say it’s a terrible thing, but it’s not the smartest thing,” said Ekakitie, a University of Iowa freshman defensive lineman. “I’m happy I’m here. I’m happy I woke up and came to my senses.”

Ekakitie selected the Hawkeyes over Northwestern, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Oregon. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder is from Brampton, Ontario, but he completed his high school career at Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy.

At the prodding of his high school coach, Ted Stewart, Ekakitie began exploring collegiate playing opportunities during his junior season. Stewart encouraged Ekakitie to specifically visit the University of Iowa, and he did, making an unofficial visit during spring practice.

“Back then (Iowa) wasn’t my ideal school, but then again, I was young and I had a certain set of criteria I was looking for in schools,” Ekakitie said. “Later in the recruiting process I realized what I was looking for was completely wrong, so that changed my view on everything.”

“Any recruit that tells you they don’t look at all that stuff would be lying. You’re a young kid, you have people writing articles on you, you’re in the spotlight, so I feel it can get to your head a little bit. You start looking up where you’re ranked, who might offer you, where people think you will go to school. The attention and the buzz is fun, but at the same time, if you get too consumed with all that stuff, that’s when your priorities can get a little out of line. A lot of kids start making mistakes.”
Faith Ekakitie
UI defensive lineman

Ekakitie was at the UI on an official visit on Nov. 5, 2011, when the Hawkeyes defeated No. 13 Michigan, 24-16.

“The atmosphere was crazy,” he said. “It was fun.”

It was during his official visit when Ekakitie sat down with Hawkeye coaches to digest what they had to offer. The biggest selling point was that former Hawkeyes Adrian Clayborn, Karl Klug, Christian Ballard, Kenny Iwebema and Jonathan Babineaux were all playing in the NFL. Mike Daniels followed in the 2012 NFL Draft.

“The first thing that impressed me was the number of defensive linemen they were sending to the NFL,” Ekakitie said. “Numbers don’t lie when you start looking over the past eight, 10 years in the NFL. That was huge for me.”

Ekakitie first heard from the UI through mail. There was a questionnaire to fill out, more letters, some hand-written, and visits by Hawkeye assistant coaches whenever they were in the Chicagoland area. Meanwhile, Ekakitie took an occasional peek at recruiting websites to get caught up on all the chatter.

“Any recruit that tells you they don’t look at all that stuff would be lying,” Ekakitie said. “You’re a young kid, you have people writing articles on you, you’re in the spotlight, so I feel it can get to your head a little bit. You start looking up where you’re ranked, who might offer you, where people think you will go to school. The attention and the buzz is fun, but at the same time, if you get too consumed with all that stuff, that’s when your priorities can get a little out of line. A lot of kids start making mistakes.”

As Signing Day neared, Ekakitie felt he was playing a game of eenie meenie miney mo.

“When it came down to it, I really couldn’t find too many negatives about the schools I had left on my list,” Ekakitie said. “It was a stressful time for me trying to narrow everything down; pressure from your parents, pressure from your friends, sometimes coaches pressure you also.”

Faith’s parents, Jimoh and Grace, left the final decision to him.

“At the end of the day they were fully supportive of wherever I wanted to go,” Ekakitie said. “Their major concern was for me to go somewhere where they knew I was going to be taken care of and I wasn’t going to be left out there on my own to fend for myself.”

The place offering the most support and the best structure was the University of Iowa.

“I’m here, and I’m happy,” Ekakitie said.

Like Ekakitie, many of the recruits who will become Hawkeyes on Wednesday, Feb. 6, will spend their first season at the UI adjusting and learning as a redshirt.

“There is always that competitive side of you that wants to get in there right away, play, and try to contribute,” Ekakitie said. “But I’m also a team player, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the team the most. It’s never easy watching from the sideline, but at the same time, you know you have to pay your dues and your time is eventually going to come.”

His time is near.

“I am so excited,” Ekakitie said. “I can’t wait for spring ball to roll around.”

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My Commitment To Iowa University

Many of you may have been perplexed by the title of this blog but, I’m making it my duty to explain it all. If you don’t’ know by now, I’m a committed student-athlete. Yes, I said it, COMMITTED.  Has a nice ring to it huh? Well I can only describe it as a sigh of relief. I’m relieved that it’s all finally over.

I’m practically guaranteed to get into a wonderful college and my spot on a division 1 football team is almost solidified. There couldn’t be anything else that is more relieving for a seni   or in high school who is also an athlete than knowing those two things are for sure.

To be honest, the entire process of being recruited has for the most part been a great experience. Shoot, I mean what could possibly be wrong with it right? You get attention from a group of adults who want you to help them make their program a better program. Now as a kid who is 17/18 years old, that is definitely an exciting experience to go through. But once again, not everything that glitters is gold. So yes, this entire recruiting ordeal did have its downside. And those negatives don’t really show up until it is actually time for a recruit to make their decision. Id refer to this moment of recruiting as “crunch time”

This past week and a half was probably the most stressing/unhappy week of recruiting for me at least. I can’t really speak for everyone else that was involved lol. But I know that it was definitely not a walk in the park for me. As some of you may know, my final list of five schools were; Oregon, Boston College, Northwestern, Iowa, and Georgia Tech. All five great schools in their own ways.

So here I am, thinking of different ways to eliminate a couple of these schools after I had taken my fifth official visit to Oregon. The visit to Oregon definitely had its effects on me, and at one point I thought that there may actually be a strong possibility of me committing there. The players and atmosphere really had me captivated. However, while I was on my visit to Oregon, coach Azz had let me know there was only one spot left on the dline in regards to scholarships. Basically, if I wanted the spot, it was all mine, otherwise if someone else committed first, they would have to take that prospects commitment. And of course the worst happened after about a week and I got a call saying that the spot was no longer available. Buh Bye Oregon.

So we are down to four schools now. And a couple weeks after, I’m thinking about what a great fit Northwestern is for me as an athlete. Not only was it near a big city like I wanted, but it was also still close to Lake Forest. I had obviously developed a strong support base in Lake Forest and I felt extremely comfortable with going to a school in the area again. There really wasn’t much downside to Northwestern at all. In fact, I’ll admit, it was definitely a family favorite.

Unfortunately after submitting my grades and ACT scores to the admissions office at NU, I was informed that they would not be able to admit me to school. My gpa was approximately .2 below where it needed to be for them to admit me into school. Now was this a heart breaker? Most Definitely. But it also worked as a wakeup call to me. If I had pushed myself a bit harder in school, I would have been admitted to one of the most prestigious schools in America. However, I will not dwell on that and of course I have to move on.

Now there are three left. Believe it or not, having Oregon and NU eliminate them from my list probably helped me more than it hurt me. My visit to Georgia Tech was probably my favorite visit by far. Let’s all be real with ourselves, what 18 year old kid wouldn’t enjoy a visit to the City of Atlanta? I for sure did. I felt at home in Atlanta, and also strongly considered this school. The entire coaching staff treated me well and they were all extremely welcoming! (S/O to Courtney) However, after a lot of deliberation with my family and parents, it was decided that there would be too many distractions within Atlanta for me to fully focus on the task at hand. Of course I did not think I would be distracted, but after looking within myself and realizing the type of student-athlete I was. I realized that my parents were very right, and only had my best interest in mind. At that point, I let the whole dream of Gtech go.

Now, we are down to two schools. Boston College and Iowa. Boston college was also a family favorite. It is near a great city. The good thing about BC is that it is right outside of the actual city. So the whole concept of being distracted by the city life is pretty much negated. And as for Iowa City, well… It isn’t a very big city to begin with. So distraction was not even a concern there. Another positive about BC is there different values instilled within the College and team itself. Being a Jesuit school, BC embodied many of the same values that I had grown up around thanks to my wonderful parents.

And for my family and I, this was definitely a check. Iowa however, even though not being a Jesuit school is built on very solid family-like values. This was a plus in my books. Boston College offered me an opportunity to compete for playing time very early in my college career due to a lack of linemen. Iowa also offered this exact same opportunity. When looking at academics, BC offers an education rival to many of the Ivy League schools. Gosh, the area that BC is located in is just a pool of education in general being surrounded by schools like Harvard, MIT, and BU.

When it came to what Iowa had to offer me academically, they boasted the largest teaching college in the nation for kinesiology- an area of interest for me. At this point you can see where this decision would become extremely difficult for me to make. Here we have two schools that both have tremendous things to offer me. What would be the deciding factor between BC and Iowa? A Gut feeling. That’s all, not the coaches, players, degrees, or even football. It all really came down to where I truly felt at home. And I’m proud and extremely happy to announce that the gut feeling has led me to continue my career at the University of Iowa.

I’m truly thankful and realize how blessed I really am to have the many different opportunities that I did, and I want to personally thank all of those who put in a ridiculous amount of time and effort to recruit me. And of course, none of this would have been possible without the support of my parents and family. I also want to thank my family in Lake Forest, and the many coaches I’ve had throughout my career as an overall athlete. Without many of you, none of the doors that opened up for me would have ever opened. I also want to thank the people that were there when it all began for me aka The Brampton Rebels (you know who you are). And above all, I want to thank God.

If any of you have any further questions, I would love to answer them. Just comment with any questions you may have and I’ll get back to you. I will not be taking any calls, please and thank you.

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OFV to Iowa

Following my visit to BC, I immediately made my way to Iowa City for another fun-packed weekend. Getting a chance to experience Iowa city once again was definitely a pleasant experience, especially since i got to be part of a captivating game-day experience as well. I’m just going to come right out and say it, that was definitely the most impressive part of this visit. My hat goes off to the thousands of Iowa Hawk-eye fans out there. You truly are great lol. Now lets get down to the business part of this visit.

Campus: To be honest, not one of the most impressive campuses I’ve been on, but a plus about this campus is that everything is not too far away. A lot of kids can actually gt around by walking/biking/or the more popular mopeding around Iowa city. The buildings aren’t too old, but they aren’t exactly super new either. The dorms weren’t my favorite either. The overall setup of the dorming situation was nice, but the actual dormitory rooms were a little suspect. But then again, I’m sure the dorms are what you make of them.

Academics: The academics are all out there for you to observe on your own. They definitely are not a terrible academic school (ranked 71st in the country), but considering the other schools I have on my list, they are obviously not the best when making head-head comparisons. However, I do like the support system that Iowa has in place. Unlike other places I’ve been to, they’re academic center is very vibrant and actually seemed alive when i visited. It’s always encouraging to know that the students and teachers are actively pursuing the goal of maximizing a students time at the University of Iowa.

Coaches: Another one of the greatest assets to this schools football program. They’ve all been together for about 13 years and have proven time and time again that they can win games. There isn’t much more you can ask for out of a coaching staff. They take care of their players and more overly,they are all upfront and honest about everything. I don’t know about other recruits, but that’s all i can ask for from a coach at any given time.

Players/Community: The players here are great, they are all great kids, and made me feel welcome during my entire visit. It is obvious that they are all tightly-knit though. It would have been nice to see some of the players go their own ways and interact with more members of the community aside from the night life. Most people would consider the fact that the players spend a majority of their time together as a plus, and a good “team-building” tool, but I personally believe that making friends out of football would be beneficial to the players. As for the community, they just love you. It seems like all of Iowa city knows who you are in Iowa city, so you essentially are the stars of Iowa city.

Football: It’s no secret that Iowa is graduating some key linemen this year, and those linemen are most likely going to end up getting drafted. So this leaves a space open for one of the incoming freshman linemen to play right away. Now I’m not saying that I am ready to play right away, because I honestly don’t know if I am. I’m still a very young student of the game, and unlike many recruits, I realize this and accept this. But on the flip side, I want to do whatever it is that is going to make me the best player possible, so if that means possibly playing early, then I’m certainly all for it.

Just like I said in the last post, there really isn’t a top 3 as of yet, but be assured that one will be soon to pop up asap.

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Season Highlights

 

Full season Highlights from my senior year. S/O to Alex Kirshenbaum for taking care of this and the rest of the film work for our team. It’s greatly appreciated.

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

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BC OFV

My official visit to BC kicked off a long week for me in which I visited two colleges in the span of 5 days. Needless to say, I now understand it when people say that traveling wears on the body.  I’m convinced that I’m still a bit worn out from the traveling, which is why I’ve had to take a break from blogging. But now I’m coming to the tail-end of all my visits and i think its about that time to start organizing my thoughts once again.

Campus: Smaller sized campus which definitely has its advantages. This means I’ll most likely know everyone that I go to school with and getting around will definitely not be a problem for me. I also loved the fact that to get from campus into the actual city only takes a 15 minute train ride. So needless to say, boredom should never be a problem for any BC student considering the city is literally RIGHT THERE. The actual campus reminds me of a large-sized church because a lot of the buildings are older buildings. The dorms aren’t the greatest, but I’m a strong believer in making the best out of every situation. My overall critique for the BC campus is that its just a beautiful place overall.

Academics: The BC degree speaks for itself. Very reputable nationwide and they offer a few majors I’m currently interested in which is a plus. As far as academic help, its there, I just don’t think it’s as strong as some of the other academic support groups I’ve seen from other schools. Then again, this may be a good thing in the sense that the BC students are so self-sufficient that a need for a strong academic support group has gone down over they years.

Coaches: As I’ve gone though this process, I’ve learned to never base any of my decisions on the coaches. Why? Because of the simple nature of this business. Nobody knows if the coaches are going to be around forever, and I’m definitely no exception to that rule. However, my player-coach relationship with the coaches at BC is probably the strongest. I found it very easy to buy into what was being taught at BC, and I felt comfortable while spending time with the coaches.

Players/Community: For my first time ever being on the east coast, I wasn’t too impressed with the people. No offense to people from the east coast lol, but you guys are a little cold shouldered, whether you realize it or not. As the the BC players, they are for the most part level headed kids with goals. This is definitely not a bad group of kids to surround yourself with for the next four years. However, the tension between the teammates was there, I didn’t ever comment on it, but I could definitely sense it. Now I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt especially after coming off a tough loss to FSU that same day, I can see where some of the players would be a little frustrated. I also got a chance to spend some time, actually a lot of time with David Smith (another Illinois recruit on his official visit). We got along very well, and I’d love to have him as a future teammate.I also got a chance to meet with Sylvia Crawley (women’s basketball coach), and that was a meeting to never be forgotten. She basically went over the Spiritual aspects of campus and really dropped few bits of knowledge for me to pick up on, which I am extremely grateful for. The most important part of our meeting with Sylvia was the obvious impact she had on my parents. She made BC an automatic “in” for my parents, and in my books, that is one of THE greatest positives if not the most important.

Football: Its been a rough season for BC, but I’m willing to put that aside. Despite this year, they have been to 11 or 12 straight bowl games the years before, so they’ve proven that they are capable of winning. As far as playing time goes for me, they are graduating a lot of seniors, and their team is still significantly young, so there is a chance for me to come in an compete for early playing time which is something that I’m looking forward too regardless of where I end up.

As far as a top three or anything of those sorts, I’m not incredibly sure where BC stands yet. That is a question/list I’m looking to update as soon as I get finished with all of my official visits.

 

 

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