As a middle-schooler at Harpool, Thabo Mwaniki remembers watching from afar as a trio of Guyer football players excelled in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State.
Now that Guyer’s contingent of OSU players has all moved on, Mwaniki will start what he hopes is another pipeline from Guyer High School to Stillwater after committing to play college football for the Cowboys on Saturday.
Mwaniki visited Stillwater on Thursday and made his decision shortly thereafter, choosing OSU over 12 other Football Bowl Subdivision offers including Colorado, Kansas, Purdue and North Texas.
“It just feels like home to me,” said Mwaniki, who will play safety at the next level but will play mostly at strong-side linebacker and wide receiver during his upcoming senior year. “I love the staff. [Safeties] Coach [Dan] Hammerschmidt is great. The facilities are top of the line. The campus is beautiful. Just everything about it was great.”
Oral commitments are non-binding. The first day a Class of 2017 recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1.
Mwaniki moved up from junior varsity as a sophomore three games into the year to play safety for Guyer before moving to linebacker due to injury a handful of games into the 2015 season. He finished his junior year with 61 tackles, including 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He added two sacks and a fumble recovery. He was also Guyer’s second-leading receiver with 18 catches for 294 yards and a touchdown.
“His versatility speaks volumes,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “I think that’s what caught the attention of a lot of people. They want him at safety, some want him at corner, but he could be a receiver at that level. He has some of the best ball skills and explosiveness that we’ve had come through. The different things he brings to the table makes him so attractive.”
Mwaniki had planned to commit at the beginning of the summer but was waiting for an offer that blew him away. On Thursday, he got it.
“We’ve been talking for about four weeks now,” Mwaniki said. “The biggest thing for me was that they’re losing five safeties by the time I get there, so early playing time was a big factor for me.”
And once again, Guyer fans seem poised to have a reason to follow OSU on Saturdays.
“I’m excited for Thabo,” said Walsh, whose son J.W. was a Cowboys quarterback who graduated in December. “Plus, I get to keep all that orange stuff in my closet.”