Ani Izuchukwu is yet another elite, athletic defensive lineman from the deep south. The Nashville Davidson Academy defensive end is a bona fide breakout star, a four-star recruit who is being chased by all the nation’s best, including Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan, in-state Tennessee and plenty of others. So, when the junior announced his commitment on Wednesday it wasn’t a shock that he decided to stick with a Southern school. It’s just the Southern school itself that may be a bit surprising.
Izuchukwu pledged his future to Mississippi State on Twitter, announcing his decision with what can only be described as a colorful exchange with new Bulldogs head coach Joe Moorhead:
“I told coach Moorhead that king is home and he said, welcome home king.”
King Ani, indeed. The Class of 2019 star stands 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and already has the athleticism and physicality to compete at the next level. For the Nigerian native, the decision to pick Mississippi State was born both of his comfort with the school and a need to make an early decision to keep him on track to enroll in January. For a player who is still learning the game and trading on his physical gifts, both those factors are important considerations.
“I just really love the coaches and the players there, and I feel I fit in there,” Izuchukwu told 247 Sports. “I think they are great people to be around. I know people come and go but I believe their program is good for me. The head coach, Coach Moorhead, is great and I got to see how he talks to his players and the way his coaches talk to their players. That really stands out to me.
“I am still learning and I am not a good football player yet. I am learning hand placements and I am getting more used to it. But I know my only way to go to college is to get a scholarship and that is why I wanted to keep playing and doing well so I could get scholarship offers. I got my first offer in the 9th grade from LSU and that showed me I could go to college because of a football scholarship.”
The teen will take his official visit to Mississippi State later this month, at which point he plans to reaffirm his commitment in person, while also enjoying Starkville, of course.