From viral video sensations to 'Pancake Honcho,' what makes certain recruits so intriguing

by Ricardo Gutierrez - From the baseball diamond to Ghana, some of the top 2023 prospects have backgrounds that make them stand out.

College football recruiting: From viral video sensations to 'Pancake Honcho,' what makes certain prospects so intriguing 7:00 AM ET Tom VanHaarenESPN Staff Writer Close ESPN staff writer Joined ESPN in 2011 Graduated from Central Michigan When Nyckoles Harbor was 8 years old, his parents enrolled him in a summer camp to learn how to play football. Harbor had asthma and hadn't really played the sport, so his parents, Azuka and Saundra, were shocked to see their son excelling. "The way he was carrying the ball and running with it, the coaches asked us if it would be OK for him to come out and try out for the local football team," Saundra said. "That's when we first noticed his athleticism." It was difficult for Harbor in a full-contact sport, so his youth coaches around Washington, D.C., suggested he try track to learn how to breathe properly to then perhaps learn how to play with asthma. After being turned away at their sports complex due to a lack of space, one of the football coaches suggested they work with a different running group, and once Harbor joined, there was no stopping him. Harbor is now one of the most intriguing recruits in the 2023 class. Listed as a 6-foot-5, 220-pound versatile athlete, he runs a 10.28 100-meter dash , has Olympic aspirations and is ranked as the No. 24 college football prospect in the ESPN 300 . He can play on both sides of the ball, though many schools are recruiting him as an edge rusher. He released his top seven schools at the end of May: Georgia , LSU , Maryland , Miami , Michigan , South Carolina and USC . His parents said he was average sized in 2018 and 2019 but grew so fast that his muscles didn't catch up with the spurt. And he still has room to bulk up if needed while maintaining his elite speed. "Most schools are recruiting me as an athlete, but I've had some talks with schools about going on the defensive side, the outside backer, the defensive end, that hybrid backer, for me to stay slimmer," Harbor said. "Then some other schools see me as tight end -- a Kyle Pitts -type where I can use my speed a little bit more, but it's just basically whichever side I want to go on to get the choice." His father, originally from Nigeria, was a professional soccer player in the United States. He came to the United States in 1983, and now his son has an incredible opportunity. Harbor has scholarships from almost every major program in the country. A big part of the interest from coaches is his football film, but also who he is off the field. "I want to become a neurosurgeon. I've always been fascinated with the brain," Harbor said. "How everything works, what it takes to become a neurosurgeon." But, of course, he holds his athletic dreams close: "The NFL is a goal, and the Olympics is a goal, too." Harbor is just one of many interesting recruits in this 2023 class. Here are a few other prospects with a twist in their recruitments. QB Arch Manning 6-foot-3, 204 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 1 Manning is very likely the most talked-about recruit in the 2023 class because of his ability -- and his last name. He is the grandson of Archie Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli and the son of Cooper. He has received much fanfare without conducting many public interviews. The Manning family has tried to keep him out of the spotlight. Arch Manning committed to Texas on June 23 over Alabama and Georgia. Scott Clause/USA TODAY Network "We just continue to try and let him be a kid be a normal kid, that's our thing," Isidore Newman head coach Nelson Stewart said. "Kind of the theme. He's still focused on his senior season, trying to get a state championship. ... He really hasn't changed much since the start of this." Manning recently committed to Texas over Georgia and Alabama , and his announcement -- his first tweet -- garnered more than 26,000 retweets, 11,000 quote tweets and more than 220,000 likes, according to Twitter's research team, and had Kevin Durant and Matthew McConaughey among the celebrities to react . After Manning's commitment, the use of the hashtag #HookEm was up 57.3 times from the previous day. It was one of the biggest announcements the recruiting world has seen in quite some time given his last name and the hype surrounding him. OT Kadyn Proctor 6-foot-6, 315 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 6 Alabama and Iowa rarely get into deep recruiting battles, with the Crimson Tide typically finishing in the top five of the recruiting rankings, whereas the Hawkeyes finished ranked No. 47 in the 2022 class and No. 30 in 2021. But Proctor, a five-star offensive lineman from Southeast Polk High School in Runnells, Iowa, is going to have an interesting decision to make. With offers from nearly every major program, he recently narrowed his list to the Hawkeyes and Crimson Tide. Proctor is the first five-star recruit from the state of Iowa since ESPN started ranking recruits in 2006, and it has already been a battle between the two schools. Iowa typically adds highly ranked offensive linemen to its classes and develops them into good players, but it's rare to have an opportunity to add a five-star who might be able to contribute earlier than most Iowa recruits. Alabama signed five-star offensive lineman Tyler Booker in 2022 and five-star tackles Tommy Brockermeyer and JC Latham in the 2021 class. Both schools have had success developing offensive linemen, but in very different ways. OL Samson Okunlola 6-foot-5, 300 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 34 Okunlola has an older brother, Samuel , who just went through the recruiting process, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end who signed with Pittsburgh as a three-star prospect. Samson is the No. 34 prospect overall and one of the highest-ranked offensive linemen in the class. The brothers were able to sharpen each other's skills, and it has paid off for both. But Samson has a nickname that has followed him throughout his recruitment: Pancake Honcho. The nickname comes from the very important offensive line stat, pancakes -- knocking down defensive linemen. He has leaned into his alter ego and has been served pancakes on visits and has received photo edits with pancakes in the picture. Okunlola recently released his top list of Alabama, Florida , Georgia, Miami, Michigan State , Ohio State , Oklahoma , Oregon and Penn State . TE Duce Robinson 6-foot-6, 230 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 44 Robinson is the No. 1-ranked tight end in the class out of Pinnacle High School in Arizona and has offers from nearly every major program, recently visiting USC. He just started playing football his freshman year and also stars as a baseball player. He has multiple offers as a center fielder and is one of the top baseball prospects. His father, Dominic, played both football and baseball at Florida State , and Robinson could be a multisport athlete in college, as well. He hasn't yet decided whether he will pursue just one sport or both. Robinson has the ability to be a great pass-catcher on the football field, but his ability on the baseball field is going to make his decision difficult. DE Bai Jobe 6-foot-4, 215 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 99 Originally from Senegal, Jobe came to America in the eighth grade, moving to Norman, Oklahoma. He had to learn English as a second language and initially didn't know much about football. He learned the game as a freshman and started to garner attention based on his size and speed. Though he was raw and didn't fully understand all the nuances of the game, his recruitment has now taken off with a top list of Alabama, Baylor , Georgia, Miami, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt . LB Jamal Anderson 6-foot-3, 200 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 123 Anderson's name should ring a bell for Atlanta Falcons fans, as his father, Jamal, was a star running back for the team in the 1990s. His father was a Pro Bowler until an injury ended his career in 2001. The younger Anderson plays on the opposite side of the ball and has more height (6-3) than his father (5-11). He's from Mill Creek High School in Georgia, and recently committed to Clemson . He's the No. 10 outside linebacker in the class and the No. 12 recruit in Georgia. OL Olaus Alinen 6-foot-6, 310 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 125 Alinen started playing football in his native Finland and came to the U.S. in 2021. He had been to the country only a handful of times before moving across the world on his own. He is now playing for Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut, and has turned into one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the country. Football runs in his family, as his father, Klaus, spent a year on the Falcons' practice squad and three years in NFL Europe as a tight end. Now, the younger Alinen has a top five of Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State and Oregon. Defensive end Collins Acheampong, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound prospect, recently visited Michigan and LSU and has several other schools, including USC and UCLA, in contention for his commitment. ThreeStep DE Collins Acheampong 6-foot-7, 235 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 165 Acheampong is originally from Ghana, and his journey to America is unusual in itself. He reached out to a few American schools via Instagram, connected with another student-athlete from Ghana and ended up enrolling at Fairmont Prep in Anaheim, California. He hadn't played football in Africa and didn't know much of anything about the sport. His size and physical ability made him a quick learner in both football and basketball. However, Fairmont Prep shut down its football program after Acheampong's freshman season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He is transferring to Rancho Santa Margarita Santa Margarita for what will be only his second year of organized football. Nevertheless, he has multiple offers for basketball and numerous Power 5 offers for football. Acheampong recently visited Michigan, Miami and LSU, with USC and UCLA among other schools in major consideration.