TAMPA – Mayan Ahanotu learns from an experienced coaching staff led by Dominick Ciao and from his father, Chidi, a 12-year NFL veteran and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Mayan says he breaks down film with his dad for hours at a time, during the off-season and regular season.
He calls it a great experience to learn from his dad, a former 1993 sixth round pick who totaled 46.5 sacks in his pro career.
“It helps me become more of a complete player,” Ahanotu told Prep Sports Scouting. “Actually having a dad who lived through the dream that I have is incredible. It helps me progress as a player.”
Despite only playing football in 3rd grade and 8th grade, Ahanotu always dreamed of playing in the NFL. He says his dad was cautious with him because concussions were at an all-time high in the sport.
Nonetheless, Mayan has thrived in three varsity seasons at Berkeley Prep. At 6’4″, 250 lbs., he’s looking to add muscle and trim some extra fat.
He has 86 tackles (28 for a loss), 10 sacks, 28 pressures, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery since freshman year.
Ahanotu currently has 29 offers including three that have come this week in Oklahoma, Michigan State and Florida Atlantic.
He says Minnesota, Georgia Tech, NC State, Illinois, Maryland and Iowa State are showing the most interest in him right now among his offers and telling him that he’ll have a big impact on their individual programs.
One of his offers is from Cal, his father’s alum, so it is easy to connect the dots. Not so quick.
“Cal is showing a lot of interest,” he said. “I wouldn’t say they have the upper hand. I’ve been to California once or twice and it’s a really beautiful.”
Ahanotu called his high school football career a crazy journey.
“Freshman year hat was my second year I ever played football,” he said. “Getting to meet everyone and jelling with their personalities is a great feeling to have. The coaches and people here are the best I’ve met in my life and they’ve been influential.
“The coaches have helped with my technique especially my head coach Dominick Ciao, helping me become the best person and player I can be.”
Ahanotu’s first sport was basketball. He started in 1st grade and has stuck with it at Berkeley Prep playing all three years. He says basketball helps with his footwork and conditioning.
This past season, the Bucs shocked everyone by upsetting Tampa Catholic 42-6 in the Class 3A region final. Berkeley Prep then fell to eventual champion Trinity Christian in the state semifinal.
Ahanotu called his team’s 9-3 season a great feeling, especially since they got over the hump.
“We are a family, just like every year,” he said. “This year seemed different, week after week we would improve after practice and after games. No one believed in us, but we had to show them. We showed them that we are not “Little Berkeley Prep” anymore.”
Graduating seniors running back Gordon Stetson (Stetson commit) and quarterback Davis Koetter (Portland State commit) are two leaders and playmakers that Ahanotu loved playing with.
“I look up to those guys. I’d go to war with them any day because I know they are warriors,” Ahanotu said. “They have my back and I have theirs. It was great to see them work every day. I hope to be a great leader like they both were.”
Ahanotu pointed to his hands, get off and pass rush as his biggest strengths. He’s aiming to read defenses more off of instinct than from film study.
As for Ahanotu’s head coach. Ciao is someone he really loves playing for. The storied Hillsborough Country coach is one of the good guys around the city. Ciao enters his 11th season at Berkeley and 28th overall at the prep level.
“He’s not like any other man I’ve met in my life. He’s an inspirational coach,” Ahanotu said. “He’s been through it all, so why wouldn’t you want to learn from a man who is that wise? He just gets the best out of every player on the team. I have a lot of love and respect for him.”
The plan from here is to focus on spring football and be a key senior leader. He wants to then take his talents to college and make it to the NFL. If that doesn’t work out, Ahanotu would like to be a movie director.
This kid is wise beyond his years. The get-off when the ball is snapped is evident and that is why so many colleges are offering him. Ahanotu has the talent inside him and the coaching around him to be successful for a long time. He won’t be a name you forget, I can promise you that.
Favorite players to watch – Seattle Seahawks DE Michael Bennett
Playlist before games – Kendrick Lamar
Favorite movies –I Am Legend and Avatar
Favorite TV shows – Shameless and That’s 70’s Show
Fun fact that you think nobody knows – “I played the Tuba in middle school”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “My”
Game film: Ahanotu’s Hudl tape
— Jake Perper (@JakePerper) May 18, 2016
Photo credit: James Broome Photography
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.