Jeffrey Okudah, the nation’s top-ranked cornerback in the 2017 recruiting class, verbally committed to Ohio State at the Army All-American Game on Saturday.
The decision comes after a lengthy recruiting process, one in which he was courted by several prominent programs. But the 5-star prospect from Grand Prairie, Texas ended all of speculation on Saturday by picking Ohio State. The soon-to-be Buckeye also opened up about the journey to his announcement on Saturday in a letter to his mom for The Players’ Tribune, one in which he credits her for everything she’s taught him throughout his life.
“When you’re getting recruited by a bunch of schools, it’s easy to be influenced by people who are just telling you what you want to hear,” Okudah writes. “They’ll give you constant praise and adoration. Honestly, that can feel great, but it’s not real. The love that those people are giving is entirely conditional — it can go away as quickly as it appears. I always understood that, and it really helped me. And it’s one of the many things I learned from you.”
What's your why? Change my Mom's life forever… https://t.co/AWHr1YwqQM
— Jeffrey Okudah III (@TheJeffOkudah) January 7, 2017
Okudah writes that the work is just beginning now that the’s committed to Ohio State. But that work isn’t exclusive to the goal of playing in the NFL. Okudah states that he wants to intern for a Fortune 500 company and “to gain experience in boardrooms that are just as competitive as any locker room.”
He’s acquired these aspirations, he writes, because of the sacrifices his mother made for him and his sister. His mother has been sick with lymphoma since he was two, but displayed to Okudah how someone responds to adversity like that valiantly.
“Whenever I approach a challenge that seems too difficult or daunting,” Okudah writes. “I know that I can persevere because I’ve learned everything I know about toughness from you.”
Okudah goes on to describe the various opportunities he got to experience throughout his recruitment, such as standing 10 yards away from NBA star LeBron James at the Michigan-Ohio State game last November.
He concludes the letter by thanking her for the work she’s done raising him and his sister and sending them off to college.
“But just you wait, Mom,” Okudah writes. “You’ve spent your whole life giving me the support I needed to achieve my dreams. Someday soon, I promise you, I’m going to help you live yours.”