Kenny Orjioke commits to UCLA and ex-Falcons coach Jim Mora

Which ex-Falcons head coach would you recommend playing for?

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Jim Mora, former coach of the Falcons, is making football news again in the Atlanta area.

The newly-hired coach at UCLA landed one of Georgia’s top uncommitted football prospects on Monday night.

Lassiter High School safety Kenny Orjioke said he picked UCLA over Arkansas, Boise State, and Miami among nearly 20 scholarship offers, which also included Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Oregon State. He did not have much contact with UGA.

Ironically, Mora beat out another ex-Falcons coach for the recruit – Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino.

Back  to Mora: He showcased his salesmanship skills with Orjioke, closing the deal in a hurry. Mora offered on behalf of UCLA on Sunday night, with Orjioke calling back to commit the next day.

“I just couldn’t see any of the other schools matching up with what UCLA could offer me with athletic and academic opportunities,” Orjioke told the AJC.

Mora and his new recruit had a lengthy conversation, and yes — they talked about the Falcons. Mora was the team’s coach from 2004-06. “He talked about … winning the NFC South, and his old days with the Falcons. He said that was a long time ago and it was a good run.”

Jim Mora (left) was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-06 (AJC photo)

Jim Mora (right) was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-06 (AJC photo)

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound safety liked Mora and UCLA so much that he made the surprising decision to commit before taking an official visit to the campus. Orjioke, who moved from California to the Atlanta area last summer, has a recruiting trip scheduled for UCLA on Jan. 14.

“I’ve always felt strongly about UCLA,” Orjioke explained. “I’ve always liked the program, and I’ve been waiting for them to offer. I had to wait on the coaching change, but it was the offer I wanted. I decided to commit because I was kind of getting tired of the whole recruiting process. I was kind of wanting to know where I would play the next four years of my life.

“As far as committing before my official visit, I’ve been to UCLA before and seen the campus. I lived in California and had a few friends that attend UCLA. I’ve seen the football field, and saw UCLA play at home against USC. I don’t think I will be surprised about anything on my visit. I’ve already seen the campus and I already know how it looks. I already know how the dorms look. UCLA is where I want to be.”

Orjioke’s commitment completes maybe this year’s most dramatic rags-to-riches recruiting story in Georgia. Orjioke was virtually unknown to college scouts when he lived in California, finally going out for the school team as a junior but only playing three games due to an injury.

Lassiter S-LB Kenny Orjioke is 6-4, 210-pound senior at 16 years old

Lassiter S-LB Kenny Orjioke is 6-4, 210-pound senior at 16 years old

This past summer, Orjioke’s family moved to the Atlanta area after his mother – who is lung doctor – accepted a job opportunity. He enrolled at Lassiter High School, and quickly caught the attention of Georgia Tech assistant Mike Sewak, who has a son that also plays at Lassiter.

Orjioke caught the attention of other scouts after his performance in Lassiter’s season-opening upset over 2010 Class AAAAA state champion Brookwood in the Georgia Dome, and the offers started coming in. “I think it was a combination of many things,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “I can’t speak for California, but when you have a kid that big and that fast … who made plays like he did in a big game against a team like Brookwood, they are going to get noticed around these parts.”

Orjioke is also a year ahead in school, only turning 16 years old last June. The senior helped lead Lassiter to this year’s playoff semifinals, and is projected to play safety or linebacker at UCLA.

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

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77 comments Add your comment

Not Disappointed

December 20th, 2011
4:10 am

slydog

December 20th, 2011
4:26 am

Good for the kid. Mora will be grovel all over him just to be his best friend…lmao. Just how in America does Jim Mora Jr., Norv Turner, Chan Gailey, and people of that ilk keep getting jobs as head coaches. I swear, some of these people who run programs and franchises value experience over accomplishments. But let a regular employee interview for a staff position, let him/her be fired for failure or underachievement, and that person will not get the job.

RedandBlackDawg

December 20th, 2011
4:47 am

Good luck to the young man. He is going back home to where he feels more comfortable. Can’t fault him for that. I hope he can learn something and get coached properly by Mora.

Paddy

December 20th, 2011
6:19 am

any place but Arkansas is ok by me! “That Coach” is still there!!

Shieldy

December 20th, 2011
6:25 am

Nice picture! Mora is no Petrino, but he’d no Smith either. Don’t understand why everyone is so darn grumpy on here?!?

NAGA

December 20th, 2011
6:55 am

Play linebacker at UCLA??? The guy only weighs in at 210. Have fun playing in the patsy PAC12. Good luck to UCLA playing in a bowl game with a losing record & waiver in hand.

Trojan Mom

December 20th, 2011
6:57 am

Way to go Kenny! We are so proud of you and know you will be very successful at UCLA. You have been such an asset to LHS football. You are not only an outstanding football player, you are also an outstanding young man. We will al be rooting for you and keeping up with your accomplishments in college.

Good luck

December 20th, 2011
7:00 am

Sounds like Mora needed no salesmanship skills whatsoever. The kid wanted to go (home) to UCLA and was just waiting for them to hire a new coach and for that coach (whoever it turned out to be) to offer.

Often the “academic card” is played for our comedic pleasure, but not in this case. He’s going to a great school and considering his mom’s profession it’s pretty likely that academics really are important to his family.

Good fit all the way around. Hope he does well.

jarvis

December 20th, 2011
7:01 am

Mora then reportedly sold him a used car and some snake oil.

In all seriousness, congrats Kenny!

bo

December 20th, 2011
7:02 am

“Ironically, Mora beat out another ex-Falcons coach for the recruit – Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino.”

How is that ironic?

Joe

December 20th, 2011
7:12 am

Good choice. With the high-power offenses in the PAC 12 and a head coach who has coached DBs in the NFL, it’s a good place for a DB to develop. Good luck young man.

JB

December 20th, 2011
7:24 am

Is this a story?

Jacket Man

December 20th, 2011
7:41 am

Kenny no longer had an offer from GA Tech.

Saban is a liar

December 20th, 2011
7:42 am

I love California!

Got a question

December 20th, 2011
8:30 am

Mora talking about Matt Ryan and the Falcons? What’s Mora got to do with Matt Ryan???

RxDawg

December 20th, 2011
8:31 am

“who is lung doctor ”

That would be a pulmonologist lol.

Grats to the young man, sounds like he knows what he wants.

Quadmire

December 20th, 2011
8:32 am

What school on that list could compete with the women at UCLA…….duh

Quadmire

December 20th, 2011
8:32 am

Well, Miami could……….

True Dawg Fan

December 20th, 2011
8:33 am

Jacket Man

December 20th, 2011
7:41 am
Kenny no longer had an offer from GA Tech.

Why bc fishfry took it back for not commiting to tech on the spot???? What a joke of a program

The Golden Tornado

December 20th, 2011
8:38 am

True Dawg Fan is a joke and Stegman is a barn!

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 20th, 2011
8:39 am

Georgia never really recruited him. He is a good athlete that only needs teaching and exeperience. UCLA is a very good school whose football has declined and I hope Mora can give USC some competition.

DawginLex

December 20th, 2011
8:41 am

Congrats to the kid. California is home.

News | MrSEC.com

December 20th, 2011
8:47 am

[...] New UCLA coach Jim More Jr. has returned to Atlanta to steal a recruit for his first class in Los [...]

Reggie Hammond

December 20th, 2011
8:47 am

Wonder how Lame Kiffin feels about UCLA’s new coach. There’s a new sheriff in town. lol

Huh?

December 20th, 2011
8:47 am

NAGA – you’re a pathetic loser.

JM

December 20th, 2011
8:50 am

It would be a major disaster for Mora if he couldn’t get a young man who was a longtime UCLA fan not to accept an offer to UCLA. Seems like pretty easy pickings to me.

Todd Grantham

December 20th, 2011
8:58 am

too soft for me

Hmm

December 20th, 2011
8:58 am

Mora is a loser who only has the last name as the only thing going for him. He talks a great game but has nothing to show us as results that mean anything. He has been a part of some very good teams but none give him credit as the lynchpin of their success. This player would be better off at Ga State than going to UCLA. Mora will not last more than 2 years!

collegeballfan

December 20th, 2011
9:06 am

He is going “back home” to play. Most kids want to go “away from home” to play.

I have never understood why.

Stupidarticle

December 20th, 2011
9:12 am

Lets see here….Fayetteville,Ark or Los Angeles,CA ???
Mora is a recruiting genius! How did he do it?

PMC

December 20th, 2011
9:13 am

I think Jim will be a good college coach. Especially defensively.

June would be fine to play for if you fit his system. If you have choices why play for Bobby Petrino and put up with his attitude? Unless you just love Arkansas there are plenty of coaches that can get you in the pros without being incredibly miserable human beings. Petrino is an awful person.

PMC

December 20th, 2011
9:14 am

Playing in the Rose Bowl all the time can’t be a bad thing

WnE

December 20th, 2011
9:15 am

This just shows how crappy of a Recruiter that Coach Kung Fu Panda is.

The GT fanbase on multiple GT -themed Message Boards have been saying that GT had the inside track for this SA since he HAS THE ACADEMICS and since his Mom is a Doctor and would want him at a good Academic School like GT.

Even when GT has a Recruit that has the Academics and comes from a strong academic background like this SA, in many cases GT/Coach Kung Fu Panda still cannot “close the deal”.

Recent example include Stephon Tuitt (ND), James Vaughters (Stanford), Thomas O’Reilly (Auburn), and now Orijoke (UCLA).

Like I have said for a LONG TIME on many GT-themed Message Boards before I was banned, “GT’s problem isn’t ACADEMICS, GT’s problem is their HORRIBLE success rate on the Elite Prospects that also have the Strong academics for GT”.

It take a pretty WEAK recruiter to lose on BOTH Vaughters & Tuitt last yr. and then to lose out on this Recruit this year.

I never want to see another GT-fan play the “Academics Card” on any AJC-Blog……….ever!

WnE

December 20th, 2011
9:27 am

I’d rather see GT go after guys like this with SIZE & SPEED rather than more 5-10 175 pounds runts that are supposed to be “diamonds in the rough” or “under the radar guys”.

They way I. Johnson plays non-physical and hates to come up an tackle GT really could have used this Recruit at a Safety spot, probably Strong safety.

papadawg

December 20th, 2011
9:40 am

After Kenny watched the beat downs by SEC teams against each other he decided to go to the weakest conference in the Country

Upstate Jacket

December 20th, 2011
9:41 am

NAGA,
Did you read the part that said he is only 16 yrs old?! If at 16 he already weighed enough to play linebacker in Div-I I’d be worried. He’ll likely redshirt, put on 25lbs of muscle and still only be 18yr old as a redshirt freshman. Good luck Kenny, you have a bright future.

FDawg

December 20th, 2011
9:49 am

Congrats to the kid and good luck out West…

just the truth

December 20th, 2011
9:54 am

WnE, there is plenty of video on this kid. Maybe you should look before commenting. Ever heard of Shumate?

J W

December 20th, 2011
9:55 am

No matter the Coach; no matter the school; no matter the football program. Best of all is the fact the young man is working hard and will be rewarded with a quality college education. (Good family background and upbringing certainly doesn’t hurt either, and he should take this time to learn, and soon evolve into a quality leader.)

dawg tired

December 20th, 2011
10:02 am

Mora is a paranoid, snake oil salesman who eventually runs out of sales pitches. UCLA will be looking for a buyout in 3 seasons.

WnE

December 20th, 2011
10:23 am

re:
just the truth
December 20th, 2011
9:54 am

WnE, there is plenty of video on this kid. Maybe you should look before commenting. Ever heard of Shumate?
___________________

I’d rather “gamble” on 6-4 210 lb. Recruits that can Run rather than CPJ signing yet another 5-11 170lb. A-back that won’t impact the game in any way.

The STARTING A-backs have only averaged 5 or 6 carries per game during CPJ’s 4-yr. run; yet he has EIGHT or NINE on scholly, cut that back to no more than FIVE and use the rest of those schollies on DLs or on recruits like this that can develop into multiple position on the Defense and maybe even help on STs which have been horrible during CPJ’s tenure.

I’d much rather gamble on SIZE & SPEED rather than seeing CPJ gamble on another Zenon-sized A-back that plays well vs. lower level crappy opponents and then disappears vs. the real Teams on the last 6-games on the schedule.

How many of those types of Recruits has CPJ brought in as “athletes” that have no defined position and end up as dead-weight Recruits that can’t even help on STs.

The GT Depth chart is full of those types of Recruits, I’d rather gamble on size & speed rather than gamble on small & slow.

Bobo is Not the Problem

December 20th, 2011
10:23 am

What a non-story. Mora did nothing. The kid wanted to go to UCLA and was just waiting on an offer.

Revise your “headline”.

JD

December 20th, 2011
10:32 am

RX Dog- I think they said “lung doctor” so some of the trolls on these blogs would know what they meant. pulmonologist is way to deep for some.

npgator

December 20th, 2011
10:34 am

UCLA’s football team SUX and always will.

ramblwrk68

December 20th, 2011
10:42 am

CPJ and the Tech recruiters probably looked at his age, and figured he would take two years at least to get acclimated to Tech’s academic rigors. I turned 18 during my first freshman quarter, and it took me until my sophomore year to get my traction. Fortunately, I was a Co-op, and had some work breaks to let me catch my breath!

Take it from me.

December 20th, 2011
10:47 am

If Bama didn’t offer, then he’s not all that!

FCS

December 20th, 2011
11:32 am

Had to mention Sewak…bleh

GT Man

December 20th, 2011
11:44 am

WnE, I agree, go after these athletes instead of “water-boy” size players, that are ” diamonds in the rough”. Had Elon, UAB, Troy or Ga. Southern offered, PJ would have been at his front door.

RPOLLARDREALTOR

December 20th, 2011
11:59 am

6′4 210LBS at 16 years old? Can we say Man-Child?! Congrats kick some butt out there on the westcoast!

Big Man Harris

December 20th, 2011
12:13 pm

Too bad Mora sucks as a coach.