Hello: David Ojabo

Submitted by Ace on July 2nd, 2018 at 9:12 AM

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:

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.

GURU RATINGS

Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, 5.7, #41 DE,
#13 NJ
4*, 80, #37 DE,
#6 NJ
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.]

SCOUTING

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.

OFFERS

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.

HIGH SCHOOL

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.

STATS

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.

VIDEO

Junior highlights:

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:

Comments

dragonchild

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:23 AM ^

You can’t teach speed. You either have it or you don’t.

Argh let's hope a HS coach with a mindset stuck in the 1970s doesn't hold back this kid.

dragonchild

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:52 AM ^

There's such a thing as natural talent but since we've learned the difference between fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle, you absolutely can "teach" speed and it's not a matter of "you have it or you don't".

Now, if it's just a matter of semantics and the coach is just talking about how few 230-pound fellows can run fast, OK, but trainers who say you "can't teach speed" are generally outdated types who apply S&C techniques to develop slow-twitch muscle because they're not aware of the difference.

This kid supposedly just started lifting, so if this coach has any part of it he's unfortunately going to lose a significant amount of speed by packing on slow-twitch muscle.  That's my concern.

BlockM

July 2nd, 2018 at 12:22 PM ^

A lot of it has to do with insertion points of muscles as well. You can only do so much before you start bumping into the limits of physics. My high school health teacher (and the track coach) mentioned that at some point he had been analyzed and determined he was pretty much maxed out on his speed, which made him feel a little better about getting beaten by more gifted athletes, hah.

No coach is going to not have their players train to max out their speed, though.

bronxblue

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:56 AM ^

I've read a bit about speed as it relates to the combine, and the general consensus seems to be that you can improve technique and get stronger out of the blocks, but generally top end speed is just sort of natural for people.  Sort of like how you can't really teach guys to carry weight well and get big beyond a certain level; some guys can get put on mass easier and keep it on longer. So I don't think it's particularly wrong to say that a certain amount of speed is innate as long as you recognize that you can always refine.  

Ron Utah

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:29 AM ^

Let’s Goooooooo!

Ojabo has the potential to be one of the best players to ever wear the winged helmet. I fully expect at least three of our current 3-Star guys to get a serious bump, and Ojabo tops that list. 

Cant wait to see how great he is after putting in work. GO BLUE!

HL2VCTRS

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:43 AM ^

I really want to see his soccer highlights.

6’4” 250 with good speed?  Guy must have been an absolute bulldozing terror on the pitch. 

Gentleman Squirrels

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:48 AM ^

“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.”

The struggle is real. Welcome David!!! Hope you're a menace to all opposing linemen, and QBs in the future 

bronxblue

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:48 AM ^

Yeah, he 100% looks like a kid who will be a beast his senior year.  I'd love to know the track record for these guys who switch to football late.  I assume it's pretty good, but it may be a bit biased because the guys who hit have great stories so you remember them.

Jangalang

July 2nd, 2018 at 10:37 AM ^

Reminds me a bit of Ziggy Ansah from BYU and now with the Lions.  Played soccer and basketball in high school (Ghana.)  Walked on to the track team in college and ran a sub 11 second 100 meters.  Ziggy got started with football a little later (not until college) but really started coming on during his senior year at BYU.

Definitely excited to see this kid develop!  Go Blue!!

Wolverinefan84

July 2nd, 2018 at 9:51 AM ^

Very excited about this kid's potential.

Also - Ace you are spoiling us with these Hello posts. I think it took a combined 2 minutes after Ojabo & Gray's commitment to have these posts up. You're the man!

oriental andrew

July 2nd, 2018 at 10:57 AM ^

That's mostly due to the larger class. Michigan has 19 commits to osu's 13. If you look at average player ratings, osu is at 92.57 vs. Michigan at 89.92. Basically, we have way more 3 stars currently committed. 

Then you look at a team like Georgia, which 247 ranks 13th. However, they only have 10 players in the class, with three 5 stars and seven 4 stars and an average player rating of 95.16. That's a quality class, based purely on the numbers.

tl;dr Numbers are numbers. Doesn't mean our class is necessarily better and, at the end of the day, it doesn't really mean anything as long as we get the right kids for our program.

robpollard

July 2nd, 2018 at 11:55 AM ^

Yes, this firmly puts Michigan in the "2nd tier" of schools based on the more helpful average score. There are about 8 or so schools in this grouping (e.g., LSU, Clemson, FSU, Notre Dame).

The top tier is Alabama, OSU, Georgia, Oklahoma and maybe Oregon (Mario Cristobal is doing a nice job).

So essentially, I think this UM class will finish in 6-10 range, unless a number of recruits disproportionately improve their ranking *AND* we don't lose more than 1 or 2 of the top guys.

All in all, I would say things are looking really good, but there's still work to do.

JonnyHintz

July 2nd, 2018 at 4:01 PM ^

Which is a big reason I’ve always been more of a fan of the average player ranking than the team ranking. The team ranking just values quantity over quality so it doesn’t give a real gauge of how much talent you’re actually bringing in. You can have a top 5 class but when you’re 15th in average player rank, it doesn’t mean you have one of the 5 best classes. 

JTGoBlue

July 4th, 2018 at 3:05 AM ^

Average ranking right now for this class is a bit of a misnomer as there are recruits in this class at 3 star level that are specific fits for our system, and like this player, many of the rankings will go up with another season and more camps. Further, the average rankings of Georgia and OSU are likely to go down as they fill out their classes.

CFraser

July 2nd, 2018 at 11:11 AM ^

Very excited about this kid. Only his first year and that offer sheet?! His rawness shows as his pad level is pretty bad but he can overpower these high school kids so he still dominates. This won’t matter as much when he moves outside anyways. Still, absolute physical freak and I’m very excited - may be my favorite recruit of this class!

rjc

July 2nd, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

I posted in the Eric Gray Hello but I think these rankings really demonstrate how useless the ranking services are these days.

Eric Gray - highly scouted, highly productive, almost video game numbers.  Yet Rivals considers him the #21 player in Tennessee, which is not considered to be a major talent producing state.

David Ojabo - just started playing football and played out of position last year but considered to be somewhere between the 6 - 13'th best prospect in NJ, which is considered to be pretty talent rich.

I know there's variance from year to year in talent levels but this just doesn't add up.

bluebyyou

July 2nd, 2018 at 12:54 PM ^

What is the anticipated size of the 2019 class?  Kind of remember something having been recently posted about unexpected departures.

Welcome David Ojabo...excited to see what this kids is going to do with some serious training and coaching.

Perkis-Size Me

July 2nd, 2018 at 1:18 PM ^

Another piece added to Don Brown’s defensive death machine. And offers from the Ivy Leagues tells me that he’ll have zero issues with the academic side of the house once he gets on campus. 

Can’t wait to see what Brown and Mattison can mold this young man into. 

 

teldar

July 2nd, 2018 at 5:05 PM ^

I wonder if lower rated guys actually feel the heat to commit if they see a class filling up. Hannah had picked up some great guys the last couple weeks. And tons of depth. Anyone know what expected class size is off hand?

Alumnus93

July 2nd, 2018 at 5:12 PM ^

Take note..this kid played alot of aoccer, which shouldn't go unnoticed...because soccer makes the legs incredibly strong, ... fyi, Ndamakong Suh played a ton of soccer....  Ojabo is gonna be a good one.