football Edit

Tennessee moves into 'Top 2 or 3' for Otito Ogbonnia

Otito Ogbonnia scheduled a trip to Tennessee after hosting head coach Jeremy Pruitt on an in-home visit last week.

The Katy, Texas defensive tackle is happy with his decision after seeing Rocky Top first hand over the weekend.

The Vols are now “definitely” in Obgonnia’s “Top 2 or 3” following his official visit, as the 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman said, “I was really impressed with what Tennessee is about to do. I think coach Pruitt is the real deal.”

Ogbonnia picked up a UT offer on Jan. 2, and the 3-star tackle quickly become one of Tennessee’s top targets in its quest to add another big body in the trenches. He played mostly tackle in high school, but the Vols have visions of utilizing him in a variety of roles.

“Pruitt thinks I can come in and play if I work hard. He really likes me. The only way I wouldn’t be successful (at Tennessee) would be my own fault,” Ogbonnia said.

“He likes that I can play multiple positions. He likes that I’m not just a tackle or just an end. He likes my physicality.”

Obgonnia is also one of the nation’s best shot-putters, and has taken track visits to UCLA, Ole Miss and Texas Tech. All three schools are recruiting him for football, too, with Nebraska slated to get his final official visit before a decision on National Signing Day. He visited with Tennessee's track coaches this weekend, and has the opportunity to play both sports with the Vols if he ends up in Knoxville.

“I’m pretty open to anything right now,” he said.

“It’s just going to be where I feel like I’ll fit best. It’s getting a little bit harder because I know the time is coming and I don’t have much longer, but in the end I’ll make the right decision wherever I go.”

Ogbonnia has family ties at Texas Tech — both his brother and sister go to school in Lubbock — but his mom attended his official visit to Tennessee this weekend and both were very comforted with a particular aspect around the Vols.

The school (he wants to major in engineering), the facilities and the players (he was hosted by Trey Smith) stood out, but the people left the biggest impression.

“I had pretty high expectations. I expected it to be nice,” he said before adding, “but I was just impressed with the people. They just have good people, and that’s what I’m looking for: good people, a place I can go excel.”

“They’re really traditional people. They’re really big on tradition. They have a legacy that’s going to be know for a long time.”

Ogbonnia left campus with a tough decision, as leaving Texas for Tennessee is suddenly a realistic option. He bonded well with Pruitt, Tracy Rocker and Smith, and he harped on the fact how well he liked the people in Knoxville.

“They just showed me that I was really important to them,” he said.

“The SEC, that’s always great and all, but anywhere you go, the people around you are going to make you who you are. Everybody there. They really want you to be there. They want you to succeed.”