Pitt made a splash on national signing day, as the program landed the commitment of Samuel Okunlola, a defensive end out of Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts, on Wednesday afternoon. The defensive end chose Pitt over more than 50 other programs, including 28 from the Power Five.
The 6’4”, 225-pound recruit holds a four-star rating from Rivals as well as three-star ratings from 247Sports and ESPN. Rivals considers Okunlola the No. 19 weak-side defensive end in the country, while 247Sports ranks him as the No. 105 edge defender and ESPN places him at No. 69 among defensive ends.
Okunlola revealed his decision during a ceremony in Thayer Academy’s Alumni Gym. Some of the other programs in the running to land Okunlola included Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, USC, Virginia and West Virginia. However, the front-runners appeared to be Colorado, Georgia, Pitt and Virginia, as those were the only four schools Okunlola visited.
Although many of the top programs in college football pursued Okunlola over the last couple of years, he had a clear vision of what he wanted in a school, and Pitt ultimately proved to be a better fit for him than the others.
“You don’t want to go to a school just because it’s a big-name school,” Okunlola told Greg Dudek of the Enterprise in August. “I kind of have the right approach about this, about this process. It’s definitely bigger than me going to school for a jersey. It’s all about going to a school where I think I can maximize my ability and all that as a student and athlete.”
At Pitt, Okunlola will have an opportunity to play a key role in an elite defensive line unit that has ranked among the top two teams in the nation in sacks and the top 10 in tackles for losses in each of the last three years. He will also be surrounded by elite talent, as he will play alongside former blue-chip recruits Elliot Donald, Dorien Ford and Dayon Hayes on the Pitt defensive line in the coming years.