Richard Jibunor committed to Auburn over Florida and Tennessee to make many Tigers’ fans much more grateful on Thanksgiving Day.
Check out the interview above with the 4-star prospect. Below, SEC Country provided 5 must-know facts about the newest Auburn commit.
1. Jibunor isn’t originally from Athens — or America.
As SEC Country has written at length in the past, Jibunor isn’t an Athens, Ga., native.
He made it to Athens Christian as a 15-year-old freshman through a foreign-exchange program to help avoid religious crises in Nigeria. His father, mother, two older brothers and one younger brother are still in Nigeria.
He hasn’t been able to visit since coming to the United States, but he hopes to make it during the summer before he enrolls at Auburn. His family originally planned to come for his Athens Christian graduation, but they’re now likely to wait until the fall to see his first college game.
Throughout his recruiting process, Jibunor communicated by phone regularly to make sure his family — especially his mother — was informed on his decision.
“She knew about my top 3. I always told her where I was looking at. She knows about Prince [Tega Wanogho], and she always felt like Auburn was the best place because of that,” Jibunor said.
2. Jibunor speaks five languages.
Jibunor isn’t your average recruit when he does interviews. He lights up the room when he talks, but he also speaks uniquely. The way he describes his emotions and experiences is different, and it’s enhanced by his abundant vocabulary.
As it turns out, Jibunor could be holding these conversations in much more than just English. He is fluent in five different languages, most of which are regional Nigerian tongues. Check out the five languages Jibunor speaks fluently with some fun facts about each.
- Igbo: This is the main language of the Igbo people who are an ethnic group in southeastern Nigeria. Approximately 20 million people speak the language, primarily of Igbo descent. There are roughly 20 different dialects. It’s one of the four national languages of Nigeria.
- Hausa: A language native to Chad, most people from Nigeria and Niger speak the language. Approximately 70 million people speak Hausa as a first language and another 40 million use it as a secondary language. Hausa is a common trade language in West Africa.
- Yoruba: About 30 million people in West Africa speak Yoruba. The language is native to Nigeria, Benin and Togo, but several variations of it are used in parts of Europe and the Caribbean.
- Nigerian Pidgin: This is an English-based language with creole language roots. It’s more commonly used as a secondary language that most Nigerian children learn in their youth, but it isn’t adopted as an official language. Variations of it are spoken in Ghana and Cameroon, as well as Nigeria.
- English: If you reading this, it’s too late.
3. In fact, a Nigerian connection led Jibunor to Auburn.
As hinted in No. 1, Jibunor’s mother was aware of Auburn offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho as Jibunor went through his recruitment. That’s because Jibunor and Wanogho know each other from their Nigeria days. Both came over on similar student visa programs. When Jibunor arrived in the United States, he thought of Wanogho as a “big bro” who could give him advice on anything.
Jibunor and Wanogho played a lot of soccer and basketball together. Whenever Jibunor visited Auburn, he’d typically stay in Wanogho’s dorm. Sometimes, Jibunor would make visits to Auburn to hang out with Wanogho, not to spend time with Auburn’s football coaches.
Ultimately, that made Jibunor’s choice much easier as he tried to differentiate Auburn from Florida and Tennessee.
“He’s the one I’m always talking to who advises me and talks to me. He’s been a big bro to me even since he was in high school. When he told me he was committing to Auburn, I’ve always been his fan. When he went to Auburn, I started to like Auburn,” Jibunor said. “I was following him, so that’s when I really got familiar with it. We’ve always been close.”
4. Football wasn’t Jibunor’s first sport.
Jibunor is a freak athlete. That much is clear just from being in the same room as him.
But his introduction to football came later than most.
As a Nigerian native, American football wasn’t part of his upbringing. He stuck primarily to soccer growing up, which is a sport he’s played a lot with Wanogho over the years.
But even when he made it to Athens Christian, Jibunor didn’t play football as a freshman. He ran cross country, played basketball and participated in track and field. Jibunor was a part of several state title and state tournament runs in his first athletic season at Athens Christian.
The football coach wanted access to this athleticism.
That’s when Jibunor started playing football his sophomore year. Initially, he did everything as a wide receiver, running back, defensive lineman, linebacker, safety and kick returner against small private-school competition. Eventually Jibunor started to hone his craft as a pass rusher and linebacker, which is when programs such as Auburn started to take notice.
5. Jibunor’s fit will depend on his physical development.
Every time I’ve mentioned Jibunor, he’s been listed as a linebacker or defensive lineman.
He’s a tough prospect to project. As he currently stands, Jibunor’s size would make him a linebacker, which he has the athleticism to do easily at the SEC level. But Rodney Garner is also a big fan of Jibunor, and there’s a chance he’s able to bulk into a defensive end or Buck pass rusher much like TD Moultry did from the 2017 recruiting class.
Jibunor is up for either option.
“They want to play me as an outside linebacker, but it depends what size I bulk into, then I might play defensive end. I can put my hand in the ground too sometimes. It don’t matter. I’m ready to put in the work and do whatever,” he said.