Top prospect NaNa Osafo-Mensah talks Texas and Notre Dame
It should come as no surprise that Nolan Catholic head football coach David Beaudin is often the last one to leave the school's field house.
That just wasn't the case on this particular day after practice.
As he was getting ready to head out the door he heard music coming from the locker room. He thought it was the cleaning crew.
Only, when he peeked around the corner and found every chair neatly in line with its coinciding locker, he saw his star defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah with a broom in hand cleaning the place up, much like he does opposing backfields.
“I just had a conversation with the team about what servant leadership looks like – how important it is to take care of our things,” Beaudin said. “NaNa isn’t doing it to put on a show. He takes it to heart because he wants to be a great leader.”
Qualities like these coupled with the football abilities that come with his 6-foot-4, 231-pound frame are but a few of the reasons why the 2019 four-star prospect is one of the most sought-after recruits in the country (See: Offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, USC to name a few).
He cut his list of finalists, out of the 27 offers he possesses, to two back in April and will decide between the Irish and Longhorns on Saturday. "Touchdown Jesus" and Bevo are both praying right now, guaranteed.
“Texas and Notre Dame were the two places I could picture myself,” he said.
While his football abilities will surely take much of the spotlight over the weekend, and deservedly so (more on that in a second), the "student" part of his student-athlete label needs to be celebrated.
A model student, Osafo-Mensah is taking into consideration the academics of each fine university just as much - if not more - than the storied football traditions of each program. That's not just fluff talk either.
“I liked Notre Dame because my parents have emphasized education my whole life. I loved everything about it, but my favorite thing was the people there,” Osafo-Mensah said.
The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas is a definite selling point for Tom Herman and the Longhorns, who also have the upper hand as far as proximity is concerned.
“Texas is that elite program in the state that isn’t too far from home, and playing in the Big 12 would be cool,” he said. “It’s that school that everyone knows – you just throw up that Hook ‘Em sign and everyone knows what that is.”
The humility that he's displayed through this entire process has been a sight to behold for Beaudin.
“NaNa is one of few with this many offers and attention, to still stay grounded and make it team first,” Beaudin said. “The maturity he’s shown is really impressive. I’ve been blown away with how he’s handled recruiting.”
For that, Osafo-Mensah thanks his parents, who moved from Ghana to California many moons ago to supply a better life for their family. He was actually born in California and then moved to New Mexico before coming to Fort Worth in 2005.
“My parents always told me to stay humble, and that process has helped me the most,” Osafo-Mensah added. “None of this got to my head, and I feel like I was still a good teammate and put all those offers and publicity to the side.”
His mother, Joyce, couldn't be more proud of the young man he's become.
“It has a lot to do with his upbringing and Catholic faith. He is generous and caring,” she said. “His boldness, hard working ethics, consistence and humbleness is being recognized.”
It sure is.
His ascension into the upper echelon of national recruits skyrocketed in March 2017 when he picked up his first scholarship offer from Texas A&M. By the time summer had come to an end he was up to 15 offers.
In the end, though, his heart stuck with UT and ND. One reason has been each school's sales pitch of early playing time.
“They’re both looking to play me right away,” he said. “That meant a lot to me because they already see the potential I have to help the program out.”
Osafo-Mensah is rated as the No. 105 recruit in the country, No. 7 weakside defensive end overall, and No. 15 recruit in Texas, according to 247Sports.com. That recruiting website has Notre Dame's chances of landing him at 96 percent, compared to just 4 percent for the Longhorns.
He had the opportunity to learn much more about each university when he went on official visits on April 13 (Notre Dame) and May 4 (Texas). Two Longhorns coaches were at Nolan Catholic earlier this week.
Wherever he ends up, expect Osafo-Mensah to give 110 percent to his efforts both on the football field and in the classroom.
And don't be surprised if he's in the locker room doing some late-night cleaning either.