A frequent misconception is that the University of Southern California football team only pursues the four and five-star prospects.
But, as is the case with Phoenix (Ariz.) Paradise Valley athlete Ebenezer Makinde, they often look for the guys who can actually play football, instead of just the guys with a handful of stars by their name.
"USC came up to my school last week and told me that they wanted me to come to one of their camps, so I'm going to one of them," Makinde, 5-foot-11, 165-pounds, said about USC coach Nick Holt and the Rising Stars Camp in late June. "They told me that they'd like to see me at the camp, so they can evaluate me more."
While USC has shown interest in Makinde, they have not officially offered him a scholarship. But, as Holt suggested and Makinde realizes, a strong performance at the camp could secure his offer.
"That'll help me a lot if I perform well at the camp and leave a good impression on the coaching staff," Makinde, already holding scholarship offers from Boise State and Wyoming, said.
Makinde recently attending a NIKE Combine where he ran, according to him, a "pedestrian" 4.7-sec 40-yard dash, but followed that up with an impressive 38-inch vertical leap and a 4.32-second short shuttle.
In track and field, Makinde made the Arcadia Invitational with a long jump of 23-feet-6-inches.
With a number of wide-outs already signed for the 2009 class, Makinde could end up performing as a cornerback at the Rising Stars Camp.
"As far as my explosion, I want to keep building on that so I can get in and out of my breaks easily," Makinde, who missed half on his junior season with injury, said. "Right now my head is pretty much at receiver, I'm more experienced there than at cornerback.
"I'm trying to get my coverage skills down because my brother played corner in college, and I think I'd be a pretty good fit at corner."
Makinde believes that his projected position will affect, but not decide, where he goes to school.
"It just depends if the school is giving me an opportunity to prove myself on either side of the ball," he said. "If one school is offering only one (position), and another is giving me the opportunity to play both, I'm probably going to favor the one offering both."
Beyond his position, Makinde will find guidance from two great influences in his life.
"I'm just going to follow the path that God leads me down, because I'm a Christian," he said. "I'm also going to talk with my parents about what's best for me. Which is my future, and what going to give me the best opportunities when I graduate, if football doesn't work."
Makinde is a determined young man who is mature beyond his years, an d he uses that to help the younger players on the Paradise Valley team.
"The younger guys need to see the work that goes into being your best," he said. "It's not like one day you wake up and you're the best player ever. Training and hard work is so important, so I just try to set an example for some of the younger guys.
"It goes beyond just playing, it has to do with maintaining your grades and staying out of trouble off the field, too."
After the Rising Stars Camp, and based on his intensity and determination, Makinde may very well become yet another four- or five-star prospect that USC is pursuing.
USCFootball.com will continue to keep you updated on Ebenezer Makinde throughout the summer.