Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mario Ojemudia, Wolverine

Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison defensive end Mario Ojemudia

Farmington Hills, MI, defensive end Mario Ojemudia committed to Michigan on Saturday.  He picked the Wolverines over Central Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Missouri, Stanford, and Syracuse.  Those offers add up to a 4-star ranking on Scout (who rank him as a DT because they're napping) and a 3-star ranking on 247 Sports.  Rivals and ESPN zzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Rivals lists him at 6'3", 215 lbs., which I'm going to accept because I don't want to believe that the coaches would recruit a 6'1" defensive end (the measurement 247 Sports gives him).  His Rivals profile also credits him with a 4.65-second forty yard dash, a 4.43 shuttle time, and a 30" vertical.  He also benches 275 lbs. and squats 475.  As for on-field statistics, Ojemudia made 103 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 fumble recoveries as a junior in 2011.

Along with his Harrison teammates, Ojemudia was presumed to be a Michigan State lean early in the process.  However, he's the second one to drop for the Wolverines, following tight end/H-back Devin Funchess.  The third Harrison teammate being pursued by Michigan is wide receiver Aaron Burbridge.  Harrison won the state championship in 2010 with a 14-0 record and will send at least three players to FBS football programs, so there's some talent in that program.

He will likely be headed for the weakside defensive end position currently inhabited by Craig Roh and Jibreel Black.  He might get up to 225 or 230 lbs. by his senior season, but he'll have to add even more weight before he gets a chance to play in college.  Both Roh and Black are in the 250-260 lb. range.  Barring unforeseen circumstances, he's almost certainly headed for a redshirt in 2012.

As for Ojemudia's talents, I think he has a long way to go.  He mostly played defensive tackle and occasionally rushed off the edge, so it's a little bit difficult to project him going forward.  He's obviously athletically superior to his opponents, but 215 lbs. is fairly small for a defensive tackle and he's a tough matchup for opposing offensive linemen.  He's quicker and stronger than those guys, even if he is giving up some size to them.  He also runs pretty fluidly and has good speed, although it remains to be seen how well he will run when he adds another 25-30 pounds.

However, I have some reservations about his athleticism.  First of all, the talent level and coaching across the board at Harrison makes it look like opposing teams aren't really concentrating on blocking Ojemudia.  Double-teams seem to be scarce, and his highlight film is full of him taking advantage of awkward blocking schemes or plays in which it seems that nobody is assigned to him at all.  Secondly, he doesn't use his hands very well (or at all, really), instead using his strength and quickness to bull his way past blockers.  That works in high school sometimes, but it won't work in college.  He will have plenty of opportunities to learn to use those hands with noted defensive line coaches Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison on staff; he also seems to have a large wingspan, which might compensate for his relatively short stature for a defensive end.  And third, I don't see consistency in his technique.  Sometimes he plays low; sometimes he doesn't.  Sometimes he has a quick first step; sometimes he barely gets out of his stance before an offensive lineman gets on him.

I have previously mentioned Tim Jamison as a comparison for Ojemudia, but as I went back and watched some clips of Michigan recruits in recent years, I think Adam Patterson might be more apt.  Patterson (255 lbs. or so) was bigger than Ojemudia in high school, but he was another guy whose technique was inconsistent and whose size and relative quickness overwhelmed opponents at times.  Patterson played a fair amount as a senior in 2010, but poorly and as an undersized nose tackle.

I'm not overly impressed with Ojemudia's film, but that negativity can be mitigated somewhat by the realization that Harrison products have turned out to be pretty good college players in recent years.  Over the past decade or so, Coach Herrington has turned out players like Michigan safety Charles Stewart and Michigan State "stars" Drew Stanton, Agim Shabaj, and Mark Dell.  Stewart was a nondescript defensive back for the Wolverines (83 career tackles, 1 interception), but the other three were solid.  Stanton was drafted by the Detroit Lions, Shabaj notched 29 catches for 308 yards in 2004 (before being declared academically ineligible for his senior year), and Dell had 133 receptions, 2,136 yards, and 12 touchdowns before going undrafted in last weekend's NFL Draft.

If Rich Rodriguez had offered Ojemudia this early, I would probably be annoyed.  But I'm admittedly still in a honeymoon period with Hoke and Mattison, both of whom have solid track records with defensive linemen.  So I guess "guardedly optimistic" would be a good description for my feelings about Ojemudia's commitment. He should have plenty of time to sit on the bench and learn how to play the game.  Roh will be a senior in 2012, Black will be a junior, and Brennen Beyer should be a sophomore or redshirt freshman at that point.

TTB Rating: 67

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  1. Is there any chance Hoke and company wanted him more to help dominate instate recruiting and help with Harrison and other MI schools in the future, or is that way over thinking things?

  2. Magnus, thanks for the write ups and analysis of the commits. What do you think Hoke does if osu gets slapped with some significant sanctions and several higher rated DE’s become more interested in coming to UM?

  3. @ Anonymous 1:44 p.m.

    I think you're overthinking things. I do not believe that Hoke would offer a kid just to improve in-state recruiting. His goal is to win games, not in-state recruiting battles. And if that is his goal, he probably ought to be fired.

    If you have two equal recruits, one each from Idaho and Michigan, then you obviously want to get the kid from Michigan. Otherwise, Hoke should be - and probably is - going after the kids he thinks can contribute at Michigan.

  4. @ Bobbyhill57 10:26 p.m.

    It's hard to say. I don't really think Hoke will turn his back on in-state guys. That would be a VERY bad public relations move, especially when it seems like he has a lot of high school coaches on his side. If he were to abandon, say, Ojemudia in favor of Adolphus Washington, he could kiss any hopes of future players from Farmington Hills Harrison goodbye.

  5. Magnus, I just wanted to echo Bobbyhill's appreciation for your detailed analysis of every new commit. In fact I'm anxiously awaiting your thoughts on Pharaoh Brown. I wanted to get your comments on how a coach reconciles issuing enough offers to fill a class without getting in to a numbers crunch and being forced to turn away superior talent. I realize it's not an exact science and you can never predict how a recruit is going to respond, but makes me almost physically ill to think that we might miss out on someone like Noah Spence or Adolphus Washington. The risk of more judicious, targeted early distribution of offers is, obviously, getting behind the eight-ball with the second tier guys. Anyway, just wanted to get your thought. Thanks.

  6. Magnus, I noticed that in some of his 1 on 1 tackles when he meets the ball carrier head on he seems to roll over or twist them to get them down. Is this bad tackling technique? It seems like he stops driving his feet and just rolls instead of driving his feet and pads through the ball carrier. Is that a correct analysis or am I way off?

  7. @ Anonymous 3:25 a.m.

    Thanks for the compliments.

    I think Brady Hoke had to try to get Michigan's name back out there with elite football players, and that's why he threw out so many offers early. Michigan has to get back to winning games consistently. Once that happens, I don't think we'll be tossing out 150 offers by the beginning of May.

    Hoke might struggle this year with the numbers crunch, but keep in mind that this is a team coming off a 15-22 run over three years. The fact that we're getting good recruits and might have to turn down other good recruits is very good news.

    Obviously, we would probably all want Adolphus Washington or Noah Spence instead of Matt Godin, but Coach Hoke wanted to rebuild relationships within the state of Michigan. If one of those kids wanted to come and he pulled Godin's offer now, then that would ruin a lot of good will he's earned.

    It's not really an ideal situation, but I don't think it's the end of the world, either. I don't think any of us expected to be in this good of a recruiting position when Hoke was hired back in January.

  8. @ Anonymous 4:57 a.m.

    I noticed that, too. It's not ideal for him to be alligator rolling those players, but it's better than the guys who just grab on and hold on for dear life. Frankly, I'm not as worried about it for a defensive lineman, because when he's 245 lbs. dragging down a 210 lb. running back, the guy will probably go down pretty quickly. It's when the tackler is weak/small that it becomes a real problem, such as Cullen Christian vs. anyone.

  9. Another WDE? Don't we have an abundance of those already?

    Brennan Beyer, Jordan Paskorz, Jibreel Black, Craig Roh, Keith Heitzman, and now two more in this class. Are some guys planning on transferring out, or is this going to be Hoke's equivalent of the Rodriguez slot receiver?

  10. @ Anonymous 11:00 a.m.

    Paskorz is playing SAM. Heitzman is going to be a strongside DE. So we only have 3, plus the two 2012 commits. I don't think we're overloaded at the position.

  11. Love the coverage you are giving these guys as they commit. It does look like some of these guys are being chosen for their physical attributes with Mattison taking the task of molding them into the type of players he wants to use on the defense.
    With so many of the commits being defense already, is there a concern that we are running out of spots for some of the offensive lineman we need or that rare elite running back/ quarterback we have been hearing about.
    I know that we keep hearing attrition will open up more slots, but it seems that this coaching staff are trying to keep as many as possible from leaving.

  12. @ Anonymous 12:54 p.m.

    I'm not worried too much about class size. Running back isn't a huge need (we have 8 of them) and a quarterback will only take up one spot. Even if the class stays at 17, we could take 4 more offensive linemen, 1 quarterback, 2 defensive tackles, and be just fine. I know I'm in the minority, but running backs and wide receivers can come in and play immediately, so I'm just not that concerned about the WR position.

    There hasn't been much attrition yet, but it is practically assured that more guys will leave. It's just the way the football world works.