Faith Ekakitie, a 6 ft. 3, 275-pound defensive tackle from Lake Forest, Illinois, and a consensus 4* recruit, should be a damn good football player. He is from the Chicago area, a fertile breeding ground for talent, and fills an immediate position of need for the Hawkeyes along the defensive line, a position thirsty for horses as a result of attrition, graduation, and straight-up lack of talent. But the reason Hawkeye fans should be excited for Ekakitie has nothing to do with his football prowess.
Ekakitie committed to the Hawkeyes Wednesday night over offers from just about everybody in the country, and a “final five” of Oregon, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Boston College, and, of course, Iowa. Anyone with access to a computer could have known that, however, because of Faith’s website, Faithflex.com, which has chronicled his recruiting journey with remarkable candor, wisdom, sense, and an odd splash of refreshing innocence.
Here’s a link to his blog:http://faithflex.com/
Many of Ekakitie’s stories have been re-hashed multiple times over the blogosphere and in the newspapers, but they are well-worth exploring for those who want a glimpse into hope for the nation’s youth. Ekakitie is an amazing departure from the self-centered, money-chasing, superficial culture that seems to dominate the recruiting of young college football players-to-be. He gives a clear, penetratingly honest portrait of his recruiting visits, evaluating (at times harshly) each town and university he considered. Recruiting is a game often masked behind scandal and false promises; players sign to schools that shower them with praise, how they will become “the man,” starting on campus from day one, receiving accolades, women, championships, and, yes, an education too. This part is last and especially least — you’d be hard pressed to find too many five-star commitments who say they were sold on their school’s architectural masters program — yet Ekakitie made the academic aspect of his choice a major factor to be evaluated. In fact, after Oregon revoked Ekakitie’s scholarship offer due to a lack of availability, nearby Northwestern became Ekakitie’s (and his family’s) first choice before he feel .2 of a grade point shy of earning admittance into the school.
Ekakitie eliminated Georgia Tech after his mother expressed concern over the trappings of living in Atlanta, and although his family seemed to push for Boston College because of its Jesuit values, Ekakitie appeared to be a bit turned off by the divisive nature of BC’s locker room after a loss to Florida State. He chose Iowa because of its football-focused family atmosphere, a good kinesiology program, the stable coaching staff, and the tightly knit nature of the players, yet he didn’t mince words when evaluating some of his concerns as well. These included a desire to live in a bigger city and belief that the players needed to mingle with the “regular” student body more instead of sticking in groups of football cronies. Ekakitie even labeled this past week of the recruitment process as painful and uncomfortable, shying away from the stereotypical party of flashing cameras and self-glorifying gestures. He had to make a difficult choice and let somebody down; instead of focusing on himself, Ekakitie thought about how he would be letting an entire university down.
These candid observations not only shed light on the oft-darkened process of recruitment, but also offer a wonderfully invigorating portrait of a self-aware, curious, well-rounded, and deeply engaging young man who has a lot more going on in his life than simply a football dream. Here’s to a great Hawkeye career on-and-off the field.
Ekakitie is the 13th commit for a 2012 class that Coach Kirk Ferentz expects to reach 20 or 21. He is one of three 4* rated players in the class so far, and also one of five players from the state of Illinois, a testament to assistant coach Lester Erb’s recruiting efforts in the area.