|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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