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Highlighting Joey Okla, Illinois’ OL signee straight from Wisconsin

A mauler right out of Wisconsin’s backyard.

247 Sports

Joey Okla, Offensive Guard

6’4” 280 lbs

Rivals Rating = 5.7 / 3 star

Offensive lineman Joey Okla is a 3-star prospect from Hartland, Wisconsin and was the first commitment for the 2022 recruiting class. He is one of seven offensive linemen in this class. According to his prospect profile, he was recruited by offensive line coach Bart Miller.

Okla stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 280 pounds. He is most comparable to former offensive lineman Blake Jeresaty. The biggest difference between the two comes down to Okla’s strength, as Okla is stronger and more of a natural fit at offensive guard than Jeresaty. Both were aggressive maulers coming out of high school and looked to finish every play through the whistle.

The first trait noticeable on Okla’s film is how aggressive he plays. He is on a mission to demolish the opposing defender every snap. He plays with a mean streak and looks to place his man in the dirt, using as much physicality as the referees will allow. Okla is a wide-bodied lineman with strength and agility. He’s strong enough to drive his man down the field and agile enough to get to the second level on any given play. When playing in the trenches, leverage is of upmost importance and Okla certainly knows how to use it to his advantage, usually getting underneath his man to give himself the upper hand.

Only two schools offered Okla a scholarship — Illinois and Eastern Illinois — but most of that was due to Okla shutting down his recruitment process early, as he let others schools know he was fully committed to the Illini. Okla finished the year rated as a 5.7 recruit, ranked 6th overall in the state of Wisconsin, and 24th-best offensive guard nationally.

Landing Okla right out of the University of Wisconsin’s backyard is major coup for Bielema and staff. Not many offensive linemen enter the Big Ten ready to play as freshmen, but Okla will likely contribute early and potentially lay claim to a starting position somewhere along the interior of the offensive line by year end. Coach Bielema set out to upgrade the talent level along the offensive line and Okla will likely to turn out to be one of the best offensive linemen in this class.