Keeping his brother’s path? Or his own way? 4-star junior BJ Ojulari is even better than most think
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. The play today updates the recruitment of Georgia legacy BJ Ojulari. His older brother, Azeez, was a 2018 U.S. Army All-American who redshirted last season.
MARIETTA, Ga. — When Georgia fans hear the name “BJ Ojulari” these days, it will send their thoughts in a few different directions.
Brother of Azeez. That’s the main one for the nation’s No. 85 overall junior prospect for this cycle.
Yet “Teammate of Arik” or “Harrison Bailey’s bodyguard” will also work.
Ojulari plays for a Marietta squad which will feature a 5-star ATH in Arik Gilbert and a 4-star QB Harrison Bailey (the Tennessee commit) on the roster.
Gilbert is a special talent. Bailey is a very connected QB.
Ojulari stands right with those guys. Not just off center stage. Marietta has a set of triplet prospects that is as good as any trio in high school football.
B.J. Ojulari brings to my mind the term “9-star effort.”
That’s not a reference to some otherworldly super prospect who deserves nine stars.
It is because he battled with a 5-star and a 4-star prospect playing both ways in a game last season.
With that, the three-year starter did something rather remarkable. If pressed to name the 10 most impressive things I’ve ever seen on a Friday night, what he did against Grayson cracks that list. Easily.
(Here is why: Ojulari, a 4-star OLB prospect, is a three-year starter at OT and flying off the edge as a DE. He’s only about 230-pounds but always makes up for what he doesn’t have in the hindquarters to play offensive line with sheer grit and determination.)
The nation’s No. 6 weak-side DE recruit (per the 247Sports Composite) had a primary mission was to match wares with Grayson OT Wanya Morris for one half of the game.
Morris, a 5-star tackle in the 2019 class, was in his way when Ojulari came crashing in off the edge. Yet when it was time for a Grayson punt or a score, he had a date with a sip of Powerade.
Ojulari remained in the arena on a very muddy night. His mission for the other side of the ball was to block 2019 Under Armour All-American Kevin Harris (an Alabama signee at that) while he lined up as the offensive tackle, too.
“It was very hard,” BJ Ojulari said. “Both great players. But I just had to do the best I could for my team. It was a lot of both the physical and the mental challenges [for me] during that game.”
It was akin of like 2-on-1 tag team football among All-Americans that night. Ojulari could not really say which one of those roles was harder.
“It was about the same because also dealing with fatigue trying to give the consistent energy becomes difficult,” he said. “But I’m not the only one [on my team] going both ways so I have to give my 100 percent for the team.”
When All-Americans need a break after an extended series on one side of the ball now and have to come out for a blow, I catch myself remembering what Ojulari did that night.
BJ Ojulari and maybe the toughest Friday Night Lights ever
That assignment came with another hardship.
Marietta fell behind by a 35-0 count and had to pass the entire second half. Grayson would hold on to the win in an eventual 38-31 result. I’m not sure the degree of difficulty that night for Ojulari could have been any higher.
“Other coaches have had the same conversations like that with me,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. “They say ‘BJ Ojulari plays every snap and we’ve never seen a play where he takes off’ and that’s a credit to him. He is an outstanding and amazing individual. I’ve had a lot of players have to play both ways in the past that have really done a great job. But the quality of athlete he was going against that night and every week stands out. That’s the difference and he still goes out and dominates and plays a great game.”
I have never seen a single elite prospect (much less any player) go both ways and deal with a pair of fellow All-Americans in the way Ojulari did that night. Of that, I am quite certain.
He was also at his best when his best was required.
“He graded out that night as the highest-graded offensive lineman and the highest-graded defensive lineman,” Morgan said. “Part of the reason we were able to come back in the second half was first he was able to control the pass rush from them and second he was also able to get some penetration in the backfield to make them punt a few times which allowed us to get back into it.”
“He was just tremendous for us that night.”
A great effort on film will never lie. What do they look like matched up against other future Saturday starters? That sheds the light on a prospect better than any star ranking.
When dropping the scouting report on the younger Ojulari, there was a common theme from the man who coached both brothers.
“Great kid,” Morgan said. “The same kid every single day and that guy is a freak. He’s a great kid. Just like his brother Azeez and his brother didn’t come off the field much for us either. Great athlete. Great kid but the stamina that BJ has for us is just unbelievable.”
The recruiting update on BJ Ojulari
Azeez was in the U.S. Army version of that honor. BJ has been named to the same game, too.
“BJ is more of the slender athletic build whereas Azeez is all power,” Morgan said. “We use BJ in space more than we did Azeez but Azeez was that kid who could just dominate the line of scrimmage.”
Look for Azeez to eventually evolve into more of that strong-side set-the-edge type of defensive end. He might make his living holding down that “C” gap for the Bulldogs.
His younger brother is more sportscar. Less Humvee.
Morgan believes Ojulari would be even more dominant if he got to sip the Powerade when his offense was on the field.
“He plays so hard and so well but if we ever gave him a little bit of a break and let him play strictly defense I think you’d see his game go to an even different level,” he said. “I’d love to develop a little more depth on the offensive line this year and just let him go.”
With Ojulari, he plans to visit a lot of schools around the state of Georgia.
“I’m looking to make a top list soon,” Ojulari said. “Probably April. Planning to make a decision in May.”
His recruiting will veer off the timeline set by his brother. Azeez saw his recruiting explode midway through his junior year. The big offers, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida Notre Dame and UGA, all showed up in April.
BJ’s offer list basically materialized a month later. Georgia was the seventh of the nine offers he received in May of 2017. That pool of options included Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, NC State, Pitt, Syracuse, TCU and Virginia Tech. Alabama, Oklahoma and even Michigan would all allow by May of 2018.
“His process was shorter than mine,” BJ Ojulari said. “So I was getting recruited earlier than him. Thanks to him, though. So this process is just slowing down and I’m getting ready to make a decision.”
Look for him to cut his list down to a top 10 or a top 8 in April. What is he looking for?
“Just a great school where I can make an impact,” he said. “Great coaches and a great family. Great place to be.”
He’s not certain if he will be able to enroll early. That is still up in the air.
Ojulari is up to 220 pounds. The scouts see him as an OLB.
Most of the schools he will consider are SEC schools. That’s fair to say. Clemson is another school in the ACC that has caught his attention.
“I just like their style of play,” he said. “They play hard and then Xavier Thomas. I like the way he plays, too.”
What does Azeez Ojulari tell his brother about UGA?
His older brother is a cache of Intel regarding the fit at UGA.
“He loves the experience,” BJ Ojulari said. “He’s really in love with Georgia. He’s enjoying it down there. Getting better. He’s getting into the rotation and making a name for himself on the defense.”
Dell McGee is the area recruiter for Marietta. He recruited Azeez to Georgia. The Bulldogs recruit the 2020 model Ojulari with McGee and Kirby Smart. Dan Lanning has not been assigned to this recruitment even though he would be an OLB if he chooses the Bulldogs.
I consider that more of a longtime fit with McGee and that family. McGee needs help with a longtime target like a Kardashian needs Google to buy an expensive pair of shoes.
What’s the big pull here for UGA?
“Just the way they use their outside linebackers and their facilities,” he said. “I like the way they set up. That’s a big part.”
Georgia has signed a wealth of 5-stars at OLB over the last two cycles. Is that a concern here?
“Sometimes but anywhere you go you are going to have to compete anyway so it is not going to be a big factor.”
The Bulldogs tell him they are not just recruiting him because of his brother. They like the versatility in his game. He clearly deserves that honored “just a football player” label.
“They are both very quiet guys,” Morgan said of the two. “Really good leaders but just in a quiet way. Just not real vocal and boisterous. With BJ, every day is the same with him. He is just so consistent. Gives you everything he’s got in the weight room. Does great in school.”
“Comes to practice. Gives you all he’s got there. Does the same thing on Friday nights. He might be the steadiest and the most reliable kid I have ever had. You get the same thing every single day. There’s never a day where he is bad or down or is off a bit. There’s never a day where you say ‘I wish BJ would have given us more’ because he’s so consistent all the way through. In my 20 years of coaching, that’s a rarity the kid is just that consistent at such a young age every single day.”
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