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Riverdale DE Chidi Okonya starting to get noticed by college coaches

Since the start of spring football practice, Riverdale sophomore defensive end Chidi Okonya has received three college football offers. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Since the start of spring football practice, Riverdale sophomore defensive end Chidi Okonya has received three college football offers. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Riverdale defensive end Chidi Okonya has received college football offers from Duke, Clemson and Mississippi State. The 6-foot-6 sophomore also plays basketball for the school. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

RIVERDALE­­—The attention is starting to pick up for Riverdale’s Chidi Okonya on the college football recruiting scene.

In the past week, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound defensive end has received three college scholarship offers, and more are expected by the start of preseason practice in August.

Last week, the sophomore got his first offer from Duke, which was followed by offers from Clemson and Mississippi State over the weekend.

“It is a very humbling experience to get offers,” Okonya said. “I’m excited and looking forward to the recruiting process.”

Okonya says it means a lot for a school like Duke to be the first to offer. He sports a 4.0 grade-point average while taking advanced and honors classes. Okonya is a member of the National Honor Society, BETA and was nominated for the Governor Honors Program.

Later this month, he will receive the top academic award for the sophomore class at Riverdale.

“I’ve worked hard to attract schools like Duke,” Okonya said. “I think my grades speak a lot about me.”

Duke put together one of the best season’s in program history last season under coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils advanced to the ACC Championship Game where they lost to eventual national champion Florida State last season.

Riverdale coach Terry Herrod says he is not surprised at all that Okonya is attracting a lot of interest from college coaches during the NCAA open evaluation period.

“He has all the good measurable with size and smarts,” Herrod said. “He is a very smart and intelligent young man, and he has a lot of potential. We know he will get a lot better in the coming years. He has done a lot of work on his technique. When coaches see him, they see the real deal. He has the potential to be one of the highest recruited players in school history.”

As a sophomore last season, he had 30 tackles with a sack and two fumble recoveries. He also had a pass deflection and a caused fumble. Okonya’s best game was against Drew when he had five solo tackles in the season-opening win.

Herrod said that Virginia, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech and Auburn could be the next in line to offer.

Okonya will be taking unofficial visits to Georgia on May 30 and Georgia Tech June 6. He said he plans to attend camp at Vanderbilt this summer, and will set the rest of his summer schedule in the next couple weeks.

“This summer, we expect things to pick up as he makes the camp rounds,” Herrod said. “He will definitely be a sought-after player.”

Okonya says his older brother, Chinedu Okonya, has been instrumental in helping him with the recruiting process. This past February, Chinedu, signed a football scholarship with Furman University.

The younger Okonya also credits former Raiders wide receiver Rashad Canty with helping in the process as he learns the recruiting ropes.

Canty signed with Vanderbilt during National Signing Day.

“I really look up to all the seniors on our team,” Okonya said. “They have really been a great help to me.”

Two weeks ago, Okonya received an invitation to play in the prestigious Rising Senior All-Star Game in December at Atlanta’s Grady Stadium.

Okonya becomes the first Riverdale player to be invited to the game, which matches the top upcoming junior class against each other. The squads are broken down into East-West rosters. Jonesboro sophomore quarterback Zerrick Cooper has also been selected to the postseason all-star game.

Both Cooper and Okonya have been selected to play on the West squad.

“Chidi’s upside is tremendous,” Herrod said. “He has the frame to add some more weight. He is probably one of the hardest working players that I’ve had the opportunity to coach.”