The second wave of commitments continues, this time in the form of Blairstown (NJ) Blair Academy three-star defensive end David Ojabo, who announced his commitment this morning on Twitter:
— King Ojabo🎈 (@DavidOjabo) July 2, 2018
Ojabo took a unique path to his Michigan pledge. Here's how his head coach describes his journey to playing football in the first place:
“(David Ojabo) was born in Nigeria, then he moved to Scotland when he was about seven, eight-years-old,” Saylor said. “Parents live in Scotland now but goes back and forth from Scotland to Nigeria – works for Shell Oil.
“He came to Blair Academy two years ago. As a junior, he played basketball and soccer. He was on the basketball team with [2018 top-100 Penn State DE] Jayson (Oweh), saw how Jayson was blowing up, came into my office and said, ‘hey coach. I’m more athletic and I’m tougher than Jayson. Do you mind if I play football next year?’ He’s 6-5, 240-pounds. I looked at him and said, ‘Oh yeah. You can play some football next year.’
Ojabo doesn't appear to lack confidence, nor should he: after his first year playing football, he picked up over 30 scholarship offers. As his stock blew up, so did his phone—but not quite in the way he wanted, he told The Wolverine's Andrew Vailliencourt:
“I’m not going to lie, when I look at my text messages, there’s no girls in there, it’s all coaches, so it’s kind of stressful,” Ojabo said. “It’ll be good to get it over with, but it’s a good problem to have.”
Ojabo can get back to the important things now that he's the 18th commit in Michigan's 2019 class, which ranks atop the conference and top-five nationally.
I've checked the database: Ojabo will be Michigan's first player to hail from Aberdeen, Scotland, where he still resides when he's not at Blair Academy.
|3*, 5.7, #41 DE,
|4*, 80, #37 DE,
|3*, 87, #36 SDE,
#8 NJ, #537 Ovr
|3*, #32 DE,
#10 NJ, #488 Ovr
As you might expect, the recruiting sites want to see more before they rank Ojabo as high as his doppelganger/predecessor Oweh, who also switched from basketball to football for his final two years of high school. While Oweh ranked a bit higher (mid four-star) at this stage in his recruitment, he held a similar offer sheet, and he moved up with every subsequent rerank; Ojabo could easily follow a similar path.
While Ojabo lined up inside Oweh as a gap-shooting defensive tackle last year (think Mario Ojemudia at Farmington Hills Harrison), he's got the long frame of a prototypical edge-rusher. He's listed at 6'5" and 233-240 pounds, and he claims a 6'8" wingspan.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and the rest.]
Michigan covets multi-sport athletes, so it's worth mentioning that Ojabo played both basketball and soccer before switching his focus to the gridiron. While his football skills are still raw, his size/athleticism combination is enticing. His coach again:
“He’s a freak athletically,” Saylor said. “The kid ran a 10.93 laser-timed 100-meter race for states. He’s raw don’t get me wrong. He has a lot to work on and shows a lot of positive things. You can’t teach speed. You either have it or you don’t.
“He’s just a freak athlete and his skill set is going to improve drastically. He’s been working with our defensive line coach about two days a week, and I’ve seen his improvement already through the winter and spring. He brings a lot to the table.
“He just started lifting, so he’ll be 265 or 270 pounds before you know it and run like a deer.”
“His learning curve has been amazing,” Saylor explained. “He started the season not knowing how to get into a three-point stance. His progression through the season was amazing. He has a great motor and chases people down. He likes the physical part of the game coming from soccer.
After recording six sacks in his first year of football, Ojabo hit the camp circuit, standing out to 247's Brian Dohn at the Opening New Jersey regional:
It is easy to forget Ojabo is less than a year into playing football because his upside is huge. There were times in one-on-ones he was stood up too quickly and lost his leverage, but his get-off is unmistakable. He showed great speed and strength, and he will only continue to improve.
The inconsistent leverage comes as little surprise—keeping low pad level is not a natural thing for most players, especially one with so little experience. That should get better with time. Dohn's 247 colleague Steve Wiltfong listed Ojabo as one of the ten uncommitted recruits most worthy of more hype in June:
The Blairstown (NJ) Blair Academy product has only played one season of organized football. A Nigerian by way of Scotland, the 6-foot-4 ½, 233-pound Ojabo’s best is way ahead of him, but his traits are unique. He ran 10.9 in the 100-meter dash this spring and his 4.75 laser-timed 40-yard dash is among the nation’s best at his position. He has the frame, quickness and speed coveted at the point of attack. Ojabo had six sacks as a junior. Look for that to double as a senior. Over 30 programs have offered including Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State.
247 put together a fascinating series recently in which Barton Simmons looked at the recruiting profiles of 2018 top-100 NFL draftees to spot positive or negative indicators for a prospect's potential. At defensive end, he had three main takeaways: top draft picks usually aren't close to maxing out their weight (avg. 6'4", 233 as recruits), test well at camps, and often play other sports before finding football—most frequently basketball and track. As Simmons noted to conclude the exercise, Ojabo checks all the right boxes:
Finally, David Ojabo may be the most compelling candidate to prove out the 2018 draft trends. He’s late to football with 2017 being his first season ever putting on pads. He still found productivity, logging 35 tackles, six sacks and forcing a pair of fumbles. He’s got a diverse athletic background playing volleyball, basketball and soccer before finding football. He has tested extremely well in a combine setting with a 4.75 40 and a 33-inch vertical at 6-foot-4.5, 233 pounds and he has clocked a 10.93 in the 100 meters. Penn State, Michigan, Texas A&M and Notre Dame are among the contenders for a guy that is very raw but immensely talented.
It may take a while for Ojabo to emerge on Michigan's depth chart. If/when that time comes, however, he could be an overnight sensation. In addition to the testing numbers and testimonials above, his athleticism leaps off the screen on his film; he's remarkably explosive off the ball. His coach says he's a quick learner; his offer sheet, which features most of the Ivy League, also indicates he should be able to pick up the game in a hurry. His senior film will be fascinating to watch, as will his development track once he reaches Ann Arbor.
Ojabo chose the Wolverines from a final five that also included Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Texas A&M. He also holds offers from Arizona State, Clemson, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Baylor, Boston College, Cal, Columbia, UConn, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Maryland, Minnesota, Penn, Pitt, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, UCF, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Yale.
Blair Academy has produced the aforementioned Jayson Oweh and a handful of Big East/ACC commits in the Rivals era (2002-present), most notably Pitt star and NFL RB Dion Lewis.
In his first year of football, Ojabo recorded 35 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumble. He should post bigger numbers this year due to the combination of added experience and sliding to the his natural DE spot to replace Oweh.
FAKE 40 TIME
Ojabo's combine-clocked 4.75 40 gets zero FAKEs out of five. While I'd normally take this with too big a grain of salt to include in the post, Ojabo's track exploits merit an exception—his coach believes he's a couple ticks faster:
“They were both on our track team last year. I believe David ran an 11.1 (100 m), Jayson ran an 11.2. They’re very competitive when it comes to that kind of stuff. He ran a 4.5 (in the 40-yard dash) but ran a 4.7 at The Opening (Regional in New Jersey). They had running backs and receivers running 4.6’s, so they think the track was a little slow. He’s more of a 4.5 guy. It’s the same situation (we saw in Oweh this time last year).”
Ojabo’s full scores were 4.75 in the 40, a 4.40 shuttle drill, a 40-foot power ball throw, and a 33.3-inch vertical jump for a SPARQ score of 106.74 (Top 15 at the event).
The word "freakish" is deployed again shortly thereafter. Oweh, for what it's worth, eventually clocked a 4.63 40 in high school.
Edit: Should've originally included this video of Ojabo from a couple years ago showcasing his basketball skills. Game highlights start at 1:17. He dunks a lot.
Single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ojabo is going to need time to both learn the game and pack on weight, and Michigan has a couple promising weakside ends in front of him in Kwity Paye and Luiji Vilain, both of whom are also cut from a similar cloth. Ojabo could still make a relatively early impact if his strength and conditioning are up to par; the defensive line features plenty of rotation and neither Paye or Vilain have made a significant impact yet. (Vilain didn't get a chance last year due to injury.)
I wish Ojabo would remain as a three-star so I'd have a shoe-in pick for Sleeper of the Year. I anticipate he won't qualify for that title by the end of this cycle. In a similar vein, I really like Greg Mattison's chances of turning Ojabo into an NFL player. Michigan may only get one or two seasons of major production from Ojabo, but they should be productive indeed.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ojabo's pledge gives Michigan a trio of commits at weakside end, but while three-star Gabe Newburg is solid, top-100 Stephen Herron Jr. could still very well end up at Stanford; Ojabo ensures that, should that loss occur, Michigan's class still boasts a top-tier edge-rusher.
Yes, we're still anticipating another commit tonight, so a big-picture look at the 2019 class is still pending. Here it is as it currently stands: