In today’s college football recruiting universe, it’s not uncommon for athletes to advertise themselves and their thought process when it comes to selecting a collegiate program to attend.
Not so with Plano West senior running back Soso Jamabo, who has taken a more reserved approach to his recruitment, even in the final two weeks before the deadline of National Signing Day arrives.
In fact, Jamabo made a stir among recruiting pundits and interested parties alike when he jokingly named ITT Technical Institute and the University of Phoenix as his top two when asked during a television spot with the Wolves’ basketball team.
Reality points to Jamabo’s top two coming from the Big 12 and Pac-12.
“I think it’s Texas and UCLA, and it’s funny, because those two schools have gone back and forth on a lot of guys this year,” said J.C. Shurburtt, 247Sports national recruiting analyst. “I think Texas is going to get (Rockwall senior) Chris Warren. Nowadays you need two good backs … if you can get two of those guys, it can really revolutionize your run game.
“My crystal ball prediction says Texas and I’m sticking with that, but I think it’s close between the two.”
Texas has been center stage in the recruiting world of late, in large part due to a surprise visit to Austin taken by Allen senior quarterback and Texas A&M verbal pledge Kyler Murray. He and Cedar Hill wideout DaMarkus Lodge each tweeted out pictures of UT jerseys with their high school numbers during the visit, causing speculation that the pair, and others, would be donning burnt orange.
But Murray reaffirmed his commitment to Texas A&M late Thursday night, and in some analyst’s minds, flipped the scales in favor of UCLA to land Jamabo.
“For now, I think with Murray staying at A&M, Texas is probably on the outside looking in,” said Fletcher Whiteley, Rivals.com analyst for the Aggies. “I think UCLA is probably the team to beat right now.”
Whiteley added that Jamabo’s cousin, Josh Wariboko, an offensive lineman out of Oklahoma City, is also considering UCLA, which could be a tipping point as the former weighs his option.
Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and A&M were all in the mix for Jamabo at various points, but neither Shurburtt nor Whiteley sees a serious threat outside of the Longhorns and Bruins in the final few days of the process.
“For A&M, I think they needed to get him on a visit to have a realistic shot, and he decided not to,” Whiteley said. “I think that eliminated A&M.”
“I’d be surprised if another school popped in other than those two,” Shurburtt added. “That said, you never say never in recruiting. If there’s a kid out there that may surprise you, he may be one of them.”
Jamabo’s enigmatic personality certainly leads to that conclusion, but it’s his play on the field that has college coaches and fans excited. As a senior at West, he accumulated over 2,500 total yards and 47 touchdowns in 12 games.
Comparisons to past and present backs abound, but Whiteley likened his versatility to that of Dallas Cowboys and former Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray and Shurburtt to Jalen Hurd, a current freshman at Tennessee.
“He reminds me of so many people,” Whiteley said. “He can be great out of the backfield; he’s good in between the tackles, too. He doesn’t really do one thing better than the other. Soso seems to be good outside and in between the tackles.”
“He’s a guy who is taller and can catch the football,” Shurburtt added. “If you look at Hurd’s stats, I think he and Soso could be similar backs in terms of size-speed combination, hands and the ability to contribute in the passing game. [Jamabo] is sort of a new type of back.”
Hurd (6-foot-3, 221 pounds) rushed for 190 times for 899 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman while also catching 35 passes for 220 yards and two scores. If Jamabo (6-foot-2, 210) puts up those numbers next fall, his first season in college will be considered a success.
But first, Jamabo must make a decision. And given the hype surrounding his game, his commitment will be one that makes waves in Austin, Los Angeles or elsewhere on Wednesday morning.
“Just because Murray is sticking with A&M doesn’t mean Texas won’t have a class,” Shurburtt said. “[Jamabo] is an important recruit for the Longhorns and someone they can get excited about. If they lose him, I don’t think it’s the end of the world, but I do think he’s an important guy.”