WVU recruiting: Will Ayeni's odyssey stop in Motown?
From England to Nigeria to New York to Canada to New Mexico to ... Morgantown? That could be the path of Terry Ayeni, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end who holds a West Virginia offer and has the Mountaineers as one of his favorites.
He was not always a hulking defender that terrorized quarterbacks, though. A few weeks after being born, Ayeni moved to Nigeria with his mother and two sisters. At the age of 8, he moved to New York City, where he picked up the "other" football, soccer.
"It was weird getting used to the lifestyle in America," he admits now. "Eventually, like any living thing, I adapted."
And he would need to keep adapting. A few years later, he was on the move again, this time to Canada to live with his father. For the first time in his life, he stepped onto the gridiron, and he was a natural.
"I started playing football my junior year [of high school] going into my senior year," he said. "I eventually got noticed by [New Mexico Military Institute coach Joe] Forchtner, and since then, I haven't looked back."
Ayeni has picked up major-college offers from the likes of Texas, South Florida, West Virginia and more. This past weekend, he was expected to head to Austin to visit the Longhorns, but the coaching situation altered those plans. Now, he's focused on three programs.
"I'm waiting until January [to take visits] now," he said. "I have two visits set up to West Virginia [Jan. 31] and Northern Illinois [Jan. 24]. I also want to get Arizona State in the mix."
The Mountaineers' recruiting efforts are led by none other than defensive line coach Erik Slaughter, who visited Ayeni earlier this month.
"I have spoken to Coach Slaughter and we have developed a good relationship," said Ayeni. "I can't wait to get out there on a visit. He believes I have a lot of potential and could help contribute to the team right away."
With all of his travels - and his focus on soccer for the majority of his life - Ayeni's knowledge of West Virginia is limited. Still, there's one aspect of the program with which he's very familiar, and it could help the Mountaineers in his recruitment.
"I used to watch [former Mountaineer] Bruce Irvin play and I still watch his highlights from time to time," he said. "I feel like he is a really great pass rusher. I watch him to see how he was successful getting to the quarterback and incorporate it with my style and technique. I am hoping to get to the level he is playing at one day."
Still, Ayeni claims no leader out of the three schools - West Virginia, Northern Illinois and Arizona State - but does say he has an idea of what he's looking for in a future home.
"I want good coaching, a good school and somewhere I can go to get better and move on to the next level," he said.
Ayeni received a four-star, 92 rating from 247Sports as the nation's second-ranked junior college strong-side defensive end. He is a May graduate and will have three years to play two.
Reach Chris Anderson at email@example.com.