Norco High RB planning NU visit

Norco High RB planning NU visit

Running back prospect Joseph Ajeigbe (Norco, Calif.) is the latest in a string of D-I talent sprouting up in Norco High School's backfield. After a prolific junior year, the three-star back has received offers from such far-flung schools as Northwestern and Duke, and he is planning to visit NU's Evanston, Ill., campus later this month.

Norco High School in California appears to have arrived at a scientific formula for yielding top-flight running backs.

First, it was Toby Gerhart, who went on to become a unanimous All-America selection and Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford. Next came Deantre Lewis, a four-star recruit who wound up running for more than 550 yards his freshman year at Arizona State before sitting out the 2011 season with an injury. Then there was Kelsey Young, who rushed for 2,008 yards and 30 touchdowns his senior year at Norco before ultimately committing to Stanford.

Now, the Cougars' backfield is occupied by Ajeigbe. No pressure, right?

"I feel a little bit of pressure to meet the standard of being a running back at Norco High School, but you know all the guys that have come before me are really supportive," said Ajeigbe, Scout.com's No. 70 running back in the class of 2013. "You know all these guys have come through Norco, so I just try to pull from that support system. Deantre is over at ASU and I talk to him all the time, and Kelsey's at Stanford, I talk to him a lot. And then Toby, I have Toby's number, and if I ever need anything I can talk to Toby. So it's really more of a benefit to me."

If he is feeling the pressure, Ajeigbe isn't showing it on the field. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound dynamo totaled 1,673 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground last fall, adding 11 catches for 231 yards.

That performance garnered interest from schools across the country, including offers from Air Force, Arizona, Duke and Northwestern.

Ajeigbe admitted that, initially, he was considering mostly West Coast schools, but he said after talking to his high school coach – Toby's dad, Todd – and other coaches, he is open to anything. In that spirit, Ajeigbe has scheduled a visit to Northwestern for later this month, and he will be moving on to visit Duke thereafter.

"I'm pretty much open-minded about the whole thing," said Ajeigbe, who has also been receiving interest from Minnesota. "Once I see everything, I'll probably be able to put them in order, but for right now, I'm kind of open to all the schools."

Ajeigbe has also received interest from Arizona State, Boise State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, TCU and UCLA, and he reported staying in regular contact with Northwestern assistant head coach and defensive backs coach Jerry Brown, as well running backs coach Matt MacPherson, who in the spring visited Ajeigbe at his school.

"I talked to coach Mac for about an hour when he came out to visit me, at lunch time at my school, and I felt comfortable talking to him," Ajeigbe said. "Coach Brown actually has a relationship with my head coach and some of my other coaches because he coached them in college. … I also talked to Coach Fitzgerald, the head coach, and he seems like he has everything put together – academics, which is most important, as well as building a good football program."

Scout.com national recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman noted that Ajeigbe is somewhat lacking in size, but described his running style as powerful. Huffman likened Ajeigbe's style to another short and powerful California product – the Jacksonville Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew – and Ajeigbe deemed the comparison "accurate."

While his Norco predecessors all elected to stay in the Pac 12, Ajeigbe said he is "open to broadening my horizons." In the meantime, though, he has his sights set on maintaining the Cougars' burgeoning reputation as Running Back High.

"My goal is to run for 2,300 yards and to get over 23 touchdowns," he said. "I also want to make an impact in the passing game – whether it's blocking or going on swing routes or checking down out of the backfield – I'd like to make an impact in the passing game. I want to show that I'm versatile."

Coming out of Norco, no one would expect anything less.

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