Just two years ago, Oluwole Betiku was in Nigeria, playing basketball without a thought of pursuing a potential career in American football. Just a few years before that, he was playing street soccer with oranges or any other round object he and his friends could find that resembled a ball.
At 6'4", Betiku didn't have the height of previous Nigerian NBA stars like Hakeem Olajuwon, and he started training for football just last year. He has not yet played a down of organized football, but programs are starting to take notice. Maryland became the first program to offer the Bishop McNamara prospect, and Betiku said he was so excited when he heard the news that he "couldn't sleep."
"As soon as I got the offer, I read everything about Maryland," he said. "I checked the pictures, website, the football website, I'm going to visit Maryland. Probably this summer."
Betiku will have two years at Bishop McNamara to prove his worth, and will likely rack up some impressive scholarship offers shortly. He wowed spectators at this weekend's DC Nike camp, besting blue-chip prospects Pat Allen and Jauan Williams in one-on-one drills.
Here's video (taken by yours truly) of Betiku simply blowing by Allen, a four-star 2015 recruit with offers from Ohio State and Florida State, among others.
Betiku's performance was made all the more impressive by the speed he utilized to get by blockers -- his big build has scouts raving about his strength, but his potential appears to be off the charts. His experience playing soccer and basketball has undoubtedly helped his footwork, as he was able to swiftly get by blockers in one-on-one drills.
His build and athleticism wasn't the only thing pointing to a successful career -- he continually talked about his room for improvement, and said after the showcase that he didn't feel he performed too well (despite being named as one of the 10 best defensive lineman at the camp).
While Maryland is his only offer, Betiku is receiving interest from other schools, although the process is still very new to him.
"Apart from Maryland, other schools have been stopping by to see me, eyeballing me like 'hey,'" he said. "But I'm always in class so I just go 'Nice to meet you, give me your card.' But I haven't really called anyone yet. I don't know how everything goes around here, I'm still new."
The prospect is receiving some help, however -- LaVar Arrington is his mentor figure (Betiku calls him his American dad), and Bishop McNamara head coach Keith Goganious has also been assisting him with how to handle the sudden influx of interested schools.
Arrington's presence may help one of Maryland's rivals -- his alma mater, Penn State, has already received a visit from Betiku, and he says he's planning on returning for a summer camp. Could the Nittany Lions offer when he gets there? It's possible, but Betiku denies that such an offer would be bigger than any other.
"Every school is a big deal to me," he said. "Coming from Nigeria over to here."
Betiku understandably says he's going to take the recruiting process slow -- he wants to make sure he ends up at a program where he has an opportunity to play but also places a high value on academics. We'll have to just wait and see what kind of schools show interest when he finally plays some football.