Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #33 Mario Ojemudia

Mario Ojemudia
Name: Mario Ojemudia
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 250 lbs.
High school: Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison
Position: Defensive end
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #53
Last year: I ranked Ojemudia #32 and said he would be a backup weakside end. He made 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery.

Ojemudia had an okay year for a backup defensive end last season. He has yet to harness the potential that had a lot of Michigan fans excited coming out of high school, but he has made plays here and there - an interception against Nebraska as a freshman, a forced fumble against South Carolina, a fumble recovery against Kansas State. He has mostly been a fresh body coming in to spell the starter (or the starter's backup).

This year he should see an increased role, and now is his time to shine. The Wolverines are roughly two deep at each defensive end spot, and Jake Ryan (now a middle linebacker) and Cameron Gordon (graduated) will likely not be available for nickel duty as weakside ends. Ojemudia will be Frank Clark's backup, and the next man up would likely be raw freshman Lawrence Marshall. I'm guessing that Marshall will see snaps, but he probably will not be particularly effective. I believe Michigan will have an improved pass rush this season with a quicker defensive front and more blitzing, and hopefully that will lead to guys like Ojemudia getting freed up by confused and overwhelmed offensive lines. He is a solid player but has yet to show whether he can be a star or not.

Prediction: Backup weakside end; 30 tackles, 3 sacks


  1. It seems every post says the same thing-- (insert name) has potential but has yet to realize it.

    1. thats what happens when a team lacks superior athletes like um does, plus theyve been young and thin for years. hopefully some of these guys like charlton and hurst and lewis and peppers and winovich etc actually emerge as elite athletes in college, not just hs. bc as of right now, um has maybe 3-4 truly elite level athletes on each side of the ball - and way too many "solid character kids with potential" to compete with big boys

    2. I think Michigan has an athleticism advantage over anyone they play in the Big 10, besides OSU. Athleticism is not why M is losing to teams like MSU and Iowa and barely getting by UConn. It's player development, consistency in leadership, and overall program direction. Our problems since the 2006 have gone well beyond 'compete with big boys'. Its been about establishing basic competency on both sides of the ball during an era of rapid innovation.

      You can blame Carr or Hoke or Rodriguez or Brandon or Martin, but whoever's fault it is Michigan has not transitioned well as college football dramatically evolved.

      Carr & Martin - failed to develop a transition plan or lay groundwork for the future
      Rodriguez - didn't have the personality to handle Michigan's culture and couldn't get support
      Brandon - didn't offer support for Rodriguez, too stodgy on the field, not stody enough off of it
      Hoke - has the vision and the personality to fit, but player development/coaching chops remain a question

  2. Mario was definitely being held in that picture. I hope by next year Mario will be the unquestionable starter at his position.

  3. You've used the dreaded word "solid". Yes, he is, and unfortunately, we've got way too much of that...Beyer, Bolden, Morgan and a few others on defense fall into that category, and will probably stay there. We need some players to emerge as real stars, especially ones who came in highly touted. I don't expect too much more from this guy, but some of the second year guys need to break out.

    1. Nothing wrong with being solid if that equates to stops on 3rd down and not give up points in the red zone.

  4. "has yet to harness the potential that had a lot of Michigan fans excited coming out of high school"

    You could say that about most guys on the team. People get excited very easily. Not me though


    Agree with all your analysis on Ojemudia. LBs seem less likely to pull double-duty now that we have 3 or 4 ends that seem like legit pass rush threats. But who knows, maybe they'll throw somebody like Gedeon, McCray, or Winovich out there on 3rd downs with their hand on the ground...

  5. Another kid that could definitely used a redshirt year and likely would have, had the cupboard not gone bare.

    I was not pumped about Ojemudia's commitment, thinking him to be way undersized and doubtful that he would ever reach 250 and still be able to move. Nice to be wrong on that one.

    He was very hard to block in high school playing with his hand down inside, I believe he'll demonstrate the same ability this year with his hand down and some room to work with. Among the reasons I am somewhat optimistic this year is what I am thinking to be a significantly more Michiganlike Defensive Line.

    It's the other line that's worrying me.

    1. I loved Ojemudia coming out of HS. I thought he was excellent at shedding blocks and was impressed how a 210 lbs guy could toss around OL the way he did. A lot of future DE's come into college a little skinny (JJ Watt reported to UW around 210 lbs). However, I suspect that Ojemudia does not have the body-type to pack on a lot of mass and he may have put on too much weight in '13. Frankly, he looked more sluggish as a Soph than FR. Maybe he was nursing an undisclosed injury? Still holding out hope that he could develop into a decent starter for the '15 season. Like Frank Clark, he needs to work on his speed rush a little.

    2. Alabama, USC, Florida State, Ohio State -- elite programs don't generally red-shirt their DEs.

      I have no problem with starting-off kids as pass-rushers as true freshman and then developing them into all-around roles as Juniors and Seniors.

      Agree with you though in the overall faith in DL and lack of it on OL.

    3. Not a coach, but I always thought recruiting him might've been a mistake given his size. He doesn't have the frame to put on a lot of good weight... I don't think he'll ever be an impact player imho. A good HS player, maybe a subpar college player.

  6. This countdown continues to be very depressing.

  7. In reply to lanknows, most elite schools do red shirt their DE's. Ohio st didn't recently because of needs but usually they have 4 players who were 4 and 5 star talents in the classes above in front of true freshmen.

    1. ??? Can't believe I'm sticking up for Lank here but he is right in this case. I can't remember the last DE that OSU red-shirted. If you look at their top 10 DL from their spring depth chart, only two of them redshirted as freshmen and they were both DT's. And Urban Meyer has done exactly what UM fans have complained about by playing marginally ready guys as freshmen. And their needs were no greater than UM's. Fans can complain about UM's coaching staff burning redshirts, but to act like it is unique to UM is inaccurate.

    2. Without actually looking at the data, it's tough to know if Lanknows is right or wrong, but I think he is probably correct. If you are an elite level school at the peak of its prowess (USC, Ohio, Alabama, Florida State), you probably don't need to worry about RS DE's because you can recruit another high level kid the next season. Plus, the type of recruits they can go after tend to be far more college ready. Specifically in regards to Ohio, Bosa and Spence were physically read to go from the get-go.

      However, RS'ing DE's isn't unheard of. Look at MSU; their starting DE's this season were both RS'ed. Thinking back to USC, USC RS'ed Nick Perry. Generally, I think it depends on the situation, which is what anon at 5:43 is trying to say. Ohio had a need for DE's as their current roster wasn't particularly adept and lacked depth; thus, the entire last two recruiting class started or are contributors from the get-go. If you have a need for DE's, even at the elite schools, your recruits are going to play from the get-go. Or, if you have a factory-line of DeShawn Hands rolling in (thinking of Bama here), then RS'ing isn't really required or necessary.

      That doesn't change the fact that Ojemudia is a guy who could and maybe should have been RS'ed. The kid was 210 in high school and played DT. I think he was 225 soaking wet his freshman year. Furthermore, has had to put on significant weight in a short period of time to make him a viable option against the run, as he is our back up WDE. He probably would have benefited from a year of patient and calculated weight building to maximize his playing ability. Unfortunately, Michigan is still rebuilding its base and could not afford that luxury.

      If Lanknows' point is to highlight that elite level programs, during the high point of their success, cast RS aside for their top 100 DE recruits, then yes, he is correct on that point. We know Michigan is not at that point (yet) and Ojemudia was not a top 100 recruit. If Michigan can land Roseboro and KLS in the next recruiting class, I would imagine they will not RS due to their pedigree as recruits and physical development. I doubt Marshall RS's this season, but he weighs 245 pounds already.

    3. To clarify - yes, I meant that if Michigan is where we want them to be, they are recruiting Hand and other DEs that are ready to play as true freshman. There are certainly some kids who will benefit from the RS season, but it's not a goal to aspire to, because DE is a position where kids commonly make an immediate impact.

      Red-shirts are a bit overrated by fans. They are not the 'free' 5th year that many fans make them out to be. You can have four players who are 5-year guys or five players who are 4-year guys. Sometimes that 5th guy is going to be a stud. Willfully giving up on him is a significant cost. Plus it's tougher to sell recruits on your program if you can't point to impact freshman.

      It really depends on the position. At OL, QB, Safety that extra year is worth investing in to add size or develop mentally. At DE, CB, WR -- positions where athleticism is more important you often DON'T need that extra year. Individual circumstances vary of course - Forcier didn't need to red-shirt (at least for on the field stuff) while Denard Robinson clearly would have benefited from sitting (though for all we know he would have just gone pro anyway and Devin Gardner never commits...)

      It's easy to say that it would be nice to have a guy like Frank Clark around for an extra year, but the realities of modern football are that if a guy can help you his freshman year you play him. Red-shirting is nice, for keeping your options open. But trying to get every kid to do is idealistic and ignores pragmatic realities (busts, going pro early, recruiting pitches, lost opportunities, etc.).

    4. The coaches pretty much had to play Ojemudia at WDE a freshman. He was probably their #9 DL and would have played in every game had he not gotten hurt. Mattison is going to play around 11 or 12 DL.

      Redshirting has really become a negative recruiting tool. You used to hear most kids give lip service about not caring whether they play or RS the first year. It's not across the board of course, but now it is very common to hear them ditch the pleasantries and state that their #1 selection criterion is early playing time. That has probably always been somewhat true, but now they are very open about it. The top recruits know which schools are willing to play freshmen, and they use that as leverage during the recruiting process now. So if you are an advocate of mass red-shirting, you are an advocate of taking lower ranked, development recruits by default.

      The other major change that is throwing redshirting to the wind has been the increase in snaps per game. 50-60 used to be typical for each offense. Now you are talking about 80+ being common. It's like a track meet out there now. You need a lot more contributors than you used to.

    5. @PS agree with your two points about recruiting ramifications of Red-shirting. This is a good way of putting it:

      "f you are an advocate of mass red-shirting, you are an advocate of taking lower ranked, development recruits"

  8. "He has yet to harness the potential that had a lot of Michigan fans excited coming out of high school"

    This basically describes the entire middle 50% of the roster.