LEWISVILLE — Bahama Bucks bills itself as the “Original Shaved Ice Company.” The place offers some tricked-out flavorings like Hurricane Daiquiri, Wedding Cake and something called Tiger’s Blood. Ewww. They have vanilla, too.
“It’s kind of like Starbucks in a way, except we’re known for our snow cones,” said Denzel Okafor, the offensive lineman from Lewisville who has a 7-foot wingspan — perfect for reaching over the counter and making someone’s day.
Or ruining a defensive tackle’s.
“Everybody walks out with a blue tongue and a smile,” Lewisville coach Gregg Miller said.
Okafor’s go-to drink is called “Oasis,” a fruity cocktail of strawberries, bananas, orange juice and coconut. Anything that keeps the 6-4, 295-pound Texas signee happy is just fine with UT coaches. They’d like to add him to the their mix this fall.
“I need to work on hand placement, extension and punching more,” Okafor said. “I’ve got to do my part so I don’t come in there on the first day, get hit in the face and think, ‘Dang, what just happened?’ I’m not nervous. I’m eager.”
Okafor’s profile is the 11th in our series highlighting the Longhorns Class of 2016. To catch up on the rest of the series, here’s an interactive map of Texas’ recruiting class of 2016.
Lewisville once was one of the baddest schools in North Texas. The Farmers became a statewide power under Ronnie Gage, winning state titles in 1993 and ’96. But that success over time, like the prime ingredients at Bahama Bucks, all melted away. Parents headed off for new subdivisions in nearby Flower Mound or Allen, and the school district opened its fifth high school, Hebron, in 1999.
Miller spent 12 years at Katy and seven as the defensive coordinator before coming to Lewisville in 2012. It was a serious uphill battle. Two years in, he simply needed more players to fill out practices. His offensive line coach talked up Okafor, a hulking, but raw, sophomore.
Miller figures it took about three games of the 2013 season for Okafor to be promoted to varsity.
From that point on, everything changed.
Miller said Okafor approached the offensive line coach with a request. “Don’t coach me like a sophomore. Coach me like a senior,” Miller said.
“He’s the baby of the family, but the guy’s really mature,” said Okafor’s oldest brother, Goldstein, who is nine years Denzel’s senior and competed in the long jump and triple jump at Texas State. “His humility is going to take him to the top over anything else. The guy’s just a humble giant. He’s ready to compete and he wants to be great.”
Since Goldstein Okafor understood the recruiting process and knew what college athletics was all about, he’s the one who took Denzel to recruiting camps and helped get him noticed. Once TCU offered Denzel a scholarship, other schools came calling, too.
Coaches found a talented athlete labeled the 12th-best offensive guard prospect in the nation, according to 247Sports. He was No. 48 on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55 list of the state’s top recruits.
Okafor felt almost compelled to sign with TCU, since the Frogs were the first to offer. But he had something of an epiphany one day at Bahama Bucks. He really liked Texas coach Charlie Strong’s demeanor. He loved the YouTube videos featuring Vance Bedford’s “Why wouldn’t you want to come to Texas?” marketing talks.
Perhaps most in Texas’ favor, Okafor was impressed that last year’s newcomers — left tackle Connor Williams, right guard Patrick Vahe and linebacker Malik Jefferson — became freshmen All-Americans.
“That’s exactly what I want to do,” Okafor said. “It’s something in my mind. But it’s just about who wants it more. If I know somebody has beaten me to what I want, it’s just a sign that I need to work harder.”
As for those TCU coaches, Miller said, “Hey, it’s his deal. They act like I sold ‘em a car that didn’t have a steering wheel or something.”
To see him in person, Okafor has the perfect body to be an inside guard in college. Extremely long arms, a wide base, broad shoulders, size 14 feet. Time will tell what sort of physical specifications new offensive line coach Matt Mattox wants at each position.
Okafor will enroll this summer and get to work immediately. He wants to be on the field in September. If redshirting is what’s best, he’s open to that possibility, too. Okafor simply wants in.
“That’s all I hear: Texas is building something good,” Okafor said. “Forget the record. We’re building something.”