|Farmington Hills, MI – 6'2", 220|
|Scout||4*, #20 DE, #162 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #30 WDE, #12 MI|
|ESPN||4*, #23 DE, #5 MI|
|24/7||3*, #28 WDE, #9 MI|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Stanford, Missouri, Illinois|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Ace checks out Harrison games against Cass Tech and Brother Rice.|
|Notes||Enrolled sort of early, in April.|
Children under 17, pregnant women, and men with heart conditions should stop reading this post now. It's about to get real.
INCOMING: MARIO OJEMUDIA DEATH STARE
When not staring a borehole through a camera lens, Ojemudia has two hobbies: making opposing offensive linemen say "where the hell did he go?" and heralding a sea change in in-state recruiting by going from Michigan State lock to Michigan signee. Even if you're not the kind of person who watches recruiting videos, I suggest taking a gander at Ojemudia's. It's kind of like watching a 215 pound version of Mike Martin in high school. He is there, and then he is not, because he's in the backfield.
That's why he's a D-I prospect and the kind of ultra-productive high school player—127 tackles as a junior lineman! 104 as a senior! A total of 26 sacks!—who gets ranked the top player in the state by newspapers more focused on high school production than college potential. He makes things happen. Those are tackles, and they are often of the screaming Viking incursion sort.
He does this with BGO($):
An acronym often used in the coaching world when describing defensive lineman is their BGO (ball get off). Mario Ojemudia is a defensive end with big-time BGO. Ojemudia is a fast twitch athlete at defensive end that can beat the offensive tackle out of his stance with his BGO.
Ojemudia has a large arsenal of moves to keep his opposing offensive tackle off balance whether it is the swim move, spin move, speed rush, or even the bull rush as he shows great strength for an undersized, 6-foot-2, 215-pound defensive end.
This has gotten him to Michigan. To get on the field he's got to add 30 pounds and retain that, which is always an open question. Some kids can, some can't.
If he can, things look good what with the stats and the highlight films and such. Ask his coach:
"Mario just has a motor that is unbelievable," Herrington said. "…He's about 215-218. If he gets up to college and he gets up to 245, he'll just be amazing. He could be a hybrid. We've never played him (standing) up, but he's fast and he could play an outside linebacker. I think he is better down, but he's always wanted to play up as a linebacker, so we'll see."
One of the games Ace caught featured Ojemudia's suspension for wearing pads at the Opening and Brother Rice running clock after racking up a big lead and was not of much use, but the season opener against Cass Tech was more productive:
Mario Ojemudia: The good news for Michigan fans is that if there was one player who impressed as much as Burbridge, it was defensive end Mario Ojemudia. … Cass Tech simply couldn't stop him on the pass rush, and he brought it on every play, showing an excellent motor and a great nose for the football.
Ojemudia stood up well to double-teams, flashed a nice swim move a couple times, and made sure to finish every play, including chasing down Cass's running back from behind on one occasion. To me, Ojemudia looks like a perfect fit for rush end, and he appears to have the frame to add some pounds without losing athleticism.
That star-laden game was loaded with scouts and both Scout's Allen Trieu and 247's Steve Wiltfong reported back similarly. Trieu:
Trieu on the Cass Game:
Ojemudia goes inside-outside for the Hawks, often playing inside of the right tackle, but will be converted to more of a true edge guy or potentially a stand up rush backer in college. He is very quick off the ball, plays with excellent pad level and motor. He was in the Cass Tech backfield quite a bit and laid a big hit on their quarterback in addition to a sack. He's relentless and looked like he was playing at a different speed than the Cass offensive line.
…had his way with the Cass Tech offensive line, registering a couple sacks, a few more tackles for loss and several quarterback hurries. … His explosiveness off the snap was evident. It almost appeared like he knew the Cass Tech snap count as he was so quick to get penetration into the backfield.
Rivals's Josh Hemholdt saw in Harrison's second game($):
…picked up where he left off last week by registering two tackles for loss on the game's first two plays. He would later add two sacks to his stat line. Ojemudia is much more effective when he is lined up outside the tight end and has room to work. When he is moved down over the tackle he tends to get bottled up, but as an outside rusher he is nearly unstoppable.
Won't it be nice if someone's saying that the snap count must be known when Michigan's defense is on the field? If the results are anything like those Jerel Worthy turned in during his three years of torment, yes. I digress.
Anyway, you get the idea. Ojemudia is undersized and has to make a transition to defensive end in college, which makes him a risk, but his production is such that people throw out names like Freeney, Suggs, and a guy you may be familiar with:
"Defensively, the only player in my 50 years of coaching I'd compare him to is LaMarr Woodley (Saginaw High)," Herrington said. "We played Saginaw in the playoffs (in 2001, Harrison defeated Saginaw 31-14 in Division 3 semifinals) and Woodley was pretty good. Mario can't be blocked. He burst onto the scene his junior year." …
"It was like coaching a back, he's so agile," Herstein said. "He has powerful hands and had that explosiveness."
For his part, Tom Lemming called him "the best in the state." Hype: feel it run through you.
He's got the death stare, he's got the BGO, he's… thirty pounds lighter than Michigan's smallest starting linebacker. That is why he is not Woodley to the ranking services, and why he's the biggest X-factor in the class. A small subset of Ojemudia-like players have the speed and ability to maintain their production at higher levels; most end up not making it. Only time will tell here.
The nice thing for Ojemudia—but maybe not the team—is that if he doesn't get big enough to fend of tight ends effectively there is a hole at SAM he would fit into nicely. Either way, he'll be an edge rusher. Michigan has discussed both with him…
Coach Mattison was told me that he was having me come in as a standup defensive end or outside linebacker," Ojemudia said. "My role would be just blitzing from both spots."
…and chances are wherever Ojemudia ends up his instructions will be simple: see that guy? He's the quarterback. Use your eye lasers.
Ojemudia early in the process:
"I've been (a Michigan State) fan. Michigan State has been one of the only schools that has really been talking to me that much -- actually physically talking with me. That's got my interest in (Michigan State) up there."
A couple months later, he and Harrison teammate Devin Funchess were commits and Aaron Burbridge was banging down the door but had to be turned away because Michigan couldn't take a gamble on the sort of academics that become a will-he-or-won't he offseason subplot in the aftermath of Rodriguez attrition.
Why Shantee Orr? Orr was the last truly short linebacker-type substance to man the rush LB (as it was called then)/WDE (as it's called now) spot. Orr was 6'1" and ended up 246 by the time he hit the NFL, which is about Ojemudia's ceiling. He was never a star but he was productive and could have gotten there as a senior had he not made a financially-motivated decision to enter the NFL draft.
And, hey, if you want to get super-optimistic, here's Tyrone Wheatley's recruiting pitch($):
“He compared my film to Dwight Freeney's,” Ojemudia said. “He said they’re identical and I liked that. He really wants me to go there. He talks to me once a week about life and everything.”
I'll take it! Freeney is also 6'1" but managed to near 270 pounds. For Mattison's part, he said Terrell Suggs. I mean, like… okay. If that's all.
Guru Reliability: Moderate-plus. Yeah, there's a big discrepancy between the two positive services and the two negative ones, but shouldn't there be? Ojemudia's the kind of player who should draw radically contrasting views on his talent.
Variance: Very high. Ojemudia could end up anything from a special teams player too small to see the field on D to that Freeney guy.
Ceiling: High. This is not "very" high because of size limitations. If those don't prove a huge problem, he can be that edge threat 4-3 unders look for.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Boom-or-bust prospects default to "moderate."
Projection: You'd imagine a 220 pound defensive lineman would be a lock to redshirt, but Michigan's lack of depth everywhere along the line and Frank Clark's uncertain status may prevent that from happening. He will likely be pressed into service unless Clark's charges are dismissed—that is a suspension-level event and the only other WDE available is starter Brennen Beyer.
When pressed into service, Ojemudia will fill Clark's role from last year as a situational pass rusher only. There is no way he can hold up on the edge against any team with a pulse that wants to run the ball. Down the road he'll get more of the same, backing up or rotating with Beyer and/or Clark until such time as there's sufficient depth at WDE to yank one of them over to SLB, likely Ojemudia.