March 5, 2009

Relieved Oku inks with Vols

The daily saga over the recruitment of running back David Oku finally came to an end on Thursday night when the talented tailback signed a letter of intent with his original choice, the University of Tennessee.

Oku could not be happier to see the entire process come to an end.

"It's all good," Oku said. "I faxed my papers in at 7:30 and basically I felt like home was at Tennessee."

Oku remained committed to Tennessee through the entire coaching staff shakeup in December. Things started to get a little crazy as Signing Day approached. He took visits to Syracuse and Auburn and decided to not sign on Digning Day and wait things out. In the end, the chance to play in Lane Kiffin's offense was too much to pass up.

"Some things were going on that I didn't feel comfortable with," said the four-star tailback from Oklahoma's Carl Albert High School. "When that happens you want to make sure that everything is right. Auburn was great, but the offense that coach Kiffin runs is great. It gives me the opportunity to line up in the backfield and make plays. Tennessee was the focal point. The SEC speaks for itself. It's the best conference and I wanted to play there."

Oku's recruitment really made a major swing when the Midwest City, Okla., running back packed up and moved to Lincoln, Neb., to finish his high school career. Rumors ran across Internet message boards like Oku runs through opposing defenses as to why Oku made the mid-semester switch.

"Everyone was saying all these things," Oku said. "People were talking about me getting someone pregnant and that was just crazy. It was these people on the radio and all that was bogus. I had no interest in Nebraska. I just had to get away from home because I was having some family problems and I wanted to make sure my academics were in order."

Oku's lone remaining credit is government. Once he passes that class then he'll be able to head off to college and play the game he loves. He said he's ready to get his Tennessee playbook and start learning the Vols system. Through the entire ordeal, he says he leaned on his friends like current Vol, Gerald Jones.

"Gerald knew what was up," Oku said. "I think it's good that I'll have someone there to push me. He's been there and knows how to compete and win. Position-wise, they got some good running backs like Lennon (Creer) and (Montario) Hardesty, and it's going to be a battle. I think there is a chance to play early and I like that."

Tennessee still remains in the race for the nation's top recruit, Bryce Brown. Oku is open to Brown joining him in the Vols backfield, but he made it clear that he doesn't plan on backing down from any competition.

"If he comes then he comes and if he don't then he don't," Oku said. "I committed when Jarvis was there and I don't care about competition. I talk to Bryce and he's a good guy, but I hope he don't feel like he is going to come in and run over everyone. I'm not scared of competition and that's the way I am."

The excitement in Oku's voice was very noticeable. He is relieved to have this decision behind him and it's all about finishing up high school and focusing on his future at Tennessee.

"It's over with now and I'm glad to have it behind me," Oku said. "I can just focus on school and everyone can leave me alone now."

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