July 11, 2008

Irabor goes public with Sun Devil commitment

Upland (Calif.) cornerback Osahon Irabor, one of the most coveted recruits at the position in the west, gave a verbal commitment to play at Arizona State last week after unofficially visiting the campus with members of his family several weeks prior.

"I called coach (Dennis) Erickson and told him I wanted to be a Sun Devil," Irabor said. "After everything I've seen and heard about the school, and with how good the coaches are there, Arizona State was just the school for me to go to.

"I decided to commit to ASU because I want to compete at the highest level and play for a great coaching staff. Coach Erickson is a coaching legend, coach (Greg) Burns and coach (Matt) Lubick are great people as well as great coaches and I'm looking forward on playing for them after my career is done here at Upland."

Irabor exclusively informed ASUDevils.com about the conversation with Erickson on July 2nd, but he and Upland assistant coach Mike Esquivel asked that we hold the story until they were ready to make a public announcement.

In the interim, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel made a strong push, offering Irabor a scholarship on July 8th. The offer came as a surprise to Irabor, and he decided to take several extra days to consider the Bruins.

But in the end, Irabor's heart was already set on playing for the Sun Devils, a program that has held a big lead in the recruitment for quite some time.

"I've got family that lives [in Blythe, Calif.] and I've got friends that live in Tempe," Irabor said. "When I was young I was always out there in the summers. Arizona State was just a school that if I ever made it in football I wanted to go there. I went there with my parents and met all the coaches. They were great and really took the opportunity to make a big impression. My family loved the school. I just want to be a Sun Devil."

"Coach Tim Salter ( Upland's Head Coach) myself and the rest of the Upland High School staff are very excited and proud of Osahon Irabor's commitment today," Esquivel said. "He has come a long way from being a freshman football reserve player to a division one national recruit. His hard work from his freshman year to now has paid off. We have had some great corners in the past here at Upland for example like Tyron Brackenridge who is now playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Osahon stands out with the best of them.

"We are looking for him to do big things in the Pac-10 and compete right away at ASU. Coach Matt Lubick, who is ASU recruiting coordinator has done a great job recruiting Irabor since the very beginning. To see players who are a class act, great class room student, and a positive role model like Osahon to succeed is very much rewarding for us coaches here at Upland."

Irabor said the relationship with Lubick and other staff members went a long way to making him comfortable with the opportunity at the school.

"All the coaches were there which was nice," Irabor said. "They were all there to greet me and for an unofficial visit this time of year that's pretty special. I sat down with Coach Erickson and got to speak with him for an hour and a half which was pretty special. Coach Lubick showed me around the school and everyone just took great care to make sure we learned everything we needed to and had a good time.

"When I committed coach Erickson said I should be able to play early. That's what I want to do but it's nothing I expect of ASU but hopefully I can be good enough to come in and try to make an impact and maybe even start as a freshman."

After picking up his first offer in late March, Irabor saw his list of suitors grow exponentially during the April evaluation period as college coaches flocked to the school to watch both he and his teammate, quarterback Josh Nunes.

At the time of his commitment, the 5-foot-10, 178-pounder reportedly held 15 offers, including Arizona, Cal, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington in addition to ASU and UCLA.

"I committed early before the start of my senior year, because I want the other 14 schools that have offered me to be able to recruit other players in my position across the nation, and to let ASU know that after my senior year I'm going to Tempe," Irabor said. "When I talked to coach Erickson he was very excited to receive the good news that I know the ASU coaching staff had been hoping and waiting for awhile now.

"With all the offers, the ones I actually saw myself possibly going to four or five and that was Cal, Nebraska, ASU, Arizona and Oregon (as well as UCLA). I went to Cal my junior season and it was nice but definitely the atmosphere at ASU is something I like a lot better and that's the place I can see myself living for the next four years when I go to college. And Arizona State's football team is pretty good.

"Last night I spoke to Coach Lubick and he was so happy and fired up that it was like he won the lottery. He was at Colorado visiting family and it was 10:30 p.m. his time there. He didn't mind waiting that late to hear from me on what my final decision was going to be. He mentioned that he is going to build the class around my commitment there and let everybody know how loyal and what a big pickup I was to them when signing day comes. Coach Lubick also informed me that I would have a great opportunity to compete right away my freshman football season.

"He said he is going to make it well known about my commitment to ASU now and on signing day . That made me feel special and even more excited about being a Sun devil. This was hard for me because I have built great player/coach relationship with the other 14 colleges that have offered me. I want it to be known that I appreciate Coach Tim Kish from Arizona offer to me. It was very special to me because Coach Kish was the first coach to offer me. I wish Coach Kish and the rest of the coaches who recruited me the best of luck in there futures. I'm just excited to be a Sun Devil after my senior year and can't wait to practice with Omar Bolden who is from my area and played at Colony High School. The Pac-10 quarterbacks better be aware, because I'm out to make an early statement at ASU and bring a Pac-10 title to Tempe."

The nation's No. 41 ranked cornerback prospect by Rivals.com, Irabor earned first-team all-league honors after tallying 49 tackles and three interceptions. As a receiver, he had 16 receptions for 325 yards and two touchdowns.

"I really like DeAngelo Hall," Irabor said, when asked to name a player he aspires to be like. "He has speed but he's also physical and aggressive and he comes down and lays some hits."

Irabor showcased his athleticism during SPARQ testing earlier this year, and he boasts a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, 4.09 shuttle run, and 38 inch vertical jump. He also has a 455 pound squat.

Now that his recruitment is over, Irabor said his focus now will be on improving his technique.

"Tyrone Brackenridge is a corner who went to my school at Upland and he's with the Kansas City Chiefs now. He's actually coming down to work with me and our other corner who has an offer from Minnesota and is pretty good too. He's going to help us with our technique and help us train. We're just going to try to get ahead of the game so we can be ready for that next level. It's going to be interesting to see how we can use these new skills from Brackenridge for our senior year of high school and into college."

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