BRAINTREE, Mass. (BVM) – With signature pancake-themed photos throughout his social media posts, five-star Class of 2023 recruit Samson Okunlola has created quite the brand for himself over the past year. As colleges went above and beyond to craft the most creative photo shoots for the offensive tackle nicknamed “Pancake Honcho,” only one learned that they’ll get the chance to keep the trend going.
At Thayer Academy on Thursday, the Tigers senior announced his commitment to the University of Miami where he’ll play under head coach Mario Cristobal. With a lineup of hats in front of him, Okunlola opted for some team colored pancakes.
Legendary announcement from @SAMSONOKUNLOLA_. Pancakes, unsurprisingly, played a key part.
— Trevor Hass (@TrevorHass) December 15, 2022
The decision to join the program came after Okunlola announced a short list of colleges earlier in the week that included Alabama, Michigan State, and Florida. With a visit down to Miami this summer, the chance to join the Hurricanes proved to be an opportunity he didn’t want to pass up.
“I view [Miami], right now they’re pretty much rebuilding,” Okunlola said in the lead up to his decision day. “Got a good recruiting class coming in, a good 2023 class. They didn’t do this good this season but maybe next season they’ll do a little bit better with the recruiting class they got right now. Getting a little bit of younger dudes, quote-on-quote their guys in the system, may make the system flourish in total.
“Also, just having an offensive line coach as the head coach is also a great plus. Having a program that develops around great offensive linemen is always great. [I got from the coaching staff] just how badly they want you to succeed.”
When talking about his decision to commit to the program, the Thayer Academy star highlighted his fit with the Miami coaching staff. Okunlola will join an impressive incoming class that ranked eighth overall before the addition of the five-star offensive tackle. With commitments from top recruits like Cormani McClain and fellow top offensive lineman Francis Mauigoa, Okunlola will add to an already loaded Hurricanes’ group.
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound senior has shined during his time at Thayer Academy in Massachusetts. Playing on both sides of the ball has helped Okunlola hone in on his craft as an offensive tackle, getting first-hand experience on what the opposition might do from his time as a defensive lineman. The No. 1-ranked player in the state held offers from over 40 Division I programs and took official visits to just his four remaining schools.
With his brother going through the recruiting cycle in the lead up to his decision to commit to Pitt in 2022, Okunlola got the chance to see how things went for him in his process. The two brothers both starred during their time with the Tigers as Samuel did his work on the defensive side. Along with his time on the football field, Samson has been a standout wrestler in his football offseasons, helping him lose weight along with staying quick on his feet.
“I felt pretty good,” Samson said of his senior campaign. “I had a real good technical year this season. Didn’t go exactly like I’d like but just working hard to get to the next level.
“My run game has been improving heavily. I’ve been working on better improving my pass game and just getting in the weight room and getting stronger, more explosive, and quicker. [I had the chance at] the most recent camps where I could just showcase what I was doing over the offseason. A lot of lifting and getting more explosive and slimmer. I got a lot more coordinated with my technique.”
— Samson Okunlola ‘23 (@SAMSONOKUNLOLA_) December 1, 2021
With an impressive resume on the field, Samson is trying his hand at building up his own brand. With colleges throughout leaning into his “Pancake Honcho” nickname during the recruiting process, Samson is hoping he can continue to grow the early trend. The senior lineman credits his brother’s use of a nickname as the inspiration early on for why he started things.
“I get pancakes on the field and honcho means king so I was like Pancake Honcho, the pancake king,” Samson said of the nickname’s origin. “Overall, I just branded that and got some designers to cook some designs up and make logos and all that. Oregon was probably the first pancake photoshoot I had because I talked a little bit about it with my nickname so they brought out the pancakes from IHOP. It’s a cool thing that’s stuck on.”As Miami prepares to add the top–rated tackle into its 2023 plans, the program is hoping Samson can serve some pancakes up on the football field this upcoming fall. He’s hopeful to enroll early after making appearances in upcoming All-American games.