I’m not sure any Oklahoma fans knew exactly how high it was PJ Adebawore He was about to climb the ranks, but everyone knew he was on the verge of becoming something special.
The Sooners, under then head coach Brent Venables and first-year defensive coach Miguel Chavisjoined the chase for Adebawore on 11 February.
A three-star prospect out of North Kansas City (Mo.) High, Adebawore has slowly begun his rise through the ranks, with each passing update.
All of that culminated with Adebawore, now signed with the Sooners and a mid-year enrollee, earning five stars this week and being ranked No. 21 overall for the 2023 class.
“Miguel, this defensive staff, recognized PJ last January as a guy that we really thought could develop into something special,” Venables said last month. “And he developed a relationship with him and he was recruited pretty lightly until about the middle of the summer and then things really started to heat up for PJ, but again, knowing his family and the type of people he is, he’s very loyal, he does what he says he will do.
“And I really never had a problem with him, even though people kept trying to recruit him. He did a great job managing it with his family. It has a huge, terrible upside. He’s on the job, an excellent student, he’s got tremendous humility, incredibly smart, great, great talent, natural passing ability.”
Words and potential have been thrown around a lot with Adebawore, but what he showed during his senior season and during Under Armor All-America week was that he’s already starting to figure it all out.
Credit to Chavis and Venables that they managed to get Adebawore to make the selection on July 10. And like every other elite recruit in OU’s class, other schools came around when the Sooners were going through their 2022 struggles.
One very positive pattern for OU, however, was that it never mattered. Adebawore knew what he was looking for and OU was always the spot.
“He values what we value,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “It values accountability, it values toughness, it values structure, it values connection, it values family, it values education. No matter how this college football landscape changes, these things last forever. The other things that come with it don’t last forever, but these things do. It fits very well here.”
Adebawore is one of three five-star signees for OU, with the other two being teammates Denton (Texas) Guyer Jackson Arnold (No. 23) and security Peyton Bowen (No. 12).
But Arnold and Bowen were pretty well known this time last year. There’s no doubt they earned the five-star ranking based on their tremendous seasons, but you rarely see someone as far back in the rankings as Adebawore reach that five-star spot.
“PJ Adebawore is just a fantastic young man,” Venables said. “His brother is getting drafted high. He is a linebacker at Northwestern. He is broad, he is long, and he has all arms and limbs. He can really run with a lot of explosiveness and natural instincts as a pass rusher. He has a great frame, just south of 230 pounds. I really like where he’s at and how his future looks.”
OU fans believed in Adebawore for a while, but it was really this week of Under Armor practices and performances that turned everyone’s heads.
With his frame, his wingspan, it all adds up to what should be something incredibly special for Adebawore and the Sooners.
“Another guy that’s really, really explosive and a long, long time,” Roof said. “I don’t know what its wingspan is, but it’s big. You watch him rush the passer and do things like that. It’s not just about rushing the passer for sacks, it’s about getting his hands up on balls. It’s a big deal too. It fits very well here. I love his spirit and he has energy – very good positive energy on top of a lot of ability with a lot of commitment and faith in the University of Oklahoma.”
The defensive end is an interesting spot. You have return as appetizers Ethan Downs and Reggie Grimes. Inbound gateway plugins like Rondell Bothroyd (Wake Forest) and Trace Ford (Oklahoma State). How does Adebawore fit in?
It sounds like a packed house, but Adebawore exceeded high school expectations. He’s looking to do it again.