Nigerian native Chidi Valentine-Okeke penned his name to play for the Louisiana State University Tigers during a ceremony held on National Signing Day at his current school, Faith Baptist Christian Academy in Ludowici.
Okeke has been in the United States for two years and played at Champagant Catholic School in Florida before transferring to Faith Baptist his senior year.
Learning a new sport in a new country took some adjusting but Okeke was soon rated as a five-star prospect by 247 Sports and a four star recruit by ESPN.
By the end of his high school career 247 Sports ranked him as high as the number two offensive tackle nationally and the 22 overall prospect. He played in the U.S. Army All- American game.
Okeke said he started to get some looks when scouts visited a spring game in Florida.
“A lot of schools came and they (LSU) were one of the schools,” he said. According to 247 Sports Okeke had received offers from LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Cincinnati.
The 315 pound, 18 year old offensive tackle took his official visit to LSU on Jan. 16 and said, when compared to other campuses he visited, something just felt right about LSU.
“I felt more comfortable when I went over there…other schools were nice but I felt more comfortable when I visited the campus.”
Okeke said he is the youngest of nine siblings. He said he talks to his mom about twice a week by phone or Skype. He said his mother doesn’t understand the concept of football but she does understand that he is accomplishing many of his life goals and fulfilling his opportunities and dreams here in the states.
“They don’t get the opportunity to watch me play…I just sent them some clips recently of me playing in the U.S. Army, All-American game and they watched it and were happy,” he said.
Okeke plans to study sociology and said he is ready to work hard in developing more muscle, speed and agility.
“I will go there and do what I have to do…be humble, but also be hungry, learn the game and listen to my coaches,” he said. “That is the most important thing. When I came over here I listened to my coaches and I did what they asked me to do…that is what made me a better player and get all these offers…now I need to do the same thing in college.”
And he hopes his college career will lead to the NFL.
“First I want to get my degree and second….every football player dreams of making the league and it is my dream to play on Sundays,” he said.