Michigan fans have been hankering for a big commitment, and they got one this evening in both figurative and literal fashion. Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu became the seventh commitment for the class of 2016; he'll either be M's second offensive line commit, as most expect, or their first in the trenches on defense.
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4*, #5 OG,
|4*, 80, #17 OG||
4*, 94, #5 OG,
4*, #7 OG,
Three of the four services are in general agreement on Onwenu's talent, placing Onwenu among the top handful of guards in the country and inside the top 200 overall prospects. ESPN stands as an outlier, though you only have to move up two spots in their guard rankings to find a recruit ranked inside their top 300; even on the low end, he's a solid four-star.
As for Onwenu's size, he is a large man-child: Rivals, ESPN, and 247 all list him at either 6'3" or 6'4" and in the 365-pound(!!!) range. Scout, which tends to list height/weight early and not update, has him at 6'3", 285, but that's clearly not updated. Onwenu has the right frame for the interior of either line; he's also going to have to get rid of some bad weight sooner or later.
It should come as little surprise that Onwenu's best asset is his power at the point of attack. That said, he's shown he's a whole lot more than a big body. Despite being one of the youngest offensive linemen in attendence, Onwenu was arguably the best at last year's NFTC Columbus, according to Scout's Scott Kennedy.
At Michigan's camp later that summer, Onwenu played on both sides of the ball, with Scout's Allen Trieu liking him better on defense in that setting ($):
Cass Tech's Michael Onwenu is a powerful 2016 kid who can go on either side of the ball, but did his most damage on defense today where he was simply too strong for would-be offensive linemen.
When The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught Onwenu in Cass Tech's opener against Oak Park last year, he saw Onwenu as a future defensive tackle ($):
Onwenu plays offensive and defensive line for the Technicians, and while he performs well on offense (when not trying to block an end and linebacker on the same play), defensive [tackle] still looks like his future. His stout build and quickness should allow him to be a space-filler who can also disrupt in the middle of the line. He has some bad weight to trim up - he's more than his listed 320 pounds - but still plays with an excellent motor. He has all the physical potential in the world (other than just 6-2 in the height department), and work ethic should turn him into a nice player down the road.
I came away from that game thinking the same thing, even though Onwenu did help open a couple big holes that led to long Mike Weber runs.
This spring, however, Onwenu has done his best work on offense, and the recruiting gurus see him playing guard at the collegiate level. Rivals analyst Josh Helmholdt took in Onwenu's position MVP performance in April's RCS Cleveland and ranked him sixth among all offensive players ($):
Onwenu is ranked as the No. 19 defensive tackle in the class of 2016 and he played both ways during Sunday's camp, but he showed best at offensive guard and was narrowly edged out by Heinrich for the MVP award. The 6-foot-2, 320-pound Onwenu is a big, powerful drive blocker who almost always wins the knock-down, drag-out brawls that happen in the trenches. But, Onwenu also has very good feet for the position and can lock on and move to keep defensive tackles at bay. When he flipped over to do defensive line reps, Onwenu showed he is a powerful, space-eating, run-stuffing defensive tackle.
Onwenu had an even better showing the following week at The Opening regional in Cleveland, earning "Alpha Dog" (camp MVP) honors from 247's Steve Wiltfong:
Offensive guard, his projected position on the next level, the 6-foot-3, 365-pound Onwenu was a force at the point of attack, showing he could handle different styles of defensive tackles throughout the day, whether it was a big, quick prospect like four-star Naquan Jones, or the shorter, more powerful Brice Brand. Onwenu can get it done a number of ways, whether it’s just burying opposition or redirecting the pressure.
Onwenu took snaps at offensive tackle, showing his athleticism and feet, stoning Top247 defensive end Austin Robertson on one rep. Onwenu is definitely an interior guy on the next level, but on the prep level you can line him up at every position on both sides of the ball along both lines.
Speaking of defense, Onwenu took snaps at defensive tackle had his way with the offensive line.
Onwenu followed that up with another top-ten outing at the Columbus regional last weekend, earning an invite to The Opening in the process. Encouragingly, Onwenu has garnered praise for his quick feet despite weighing north of 350 pounds at these recent camps; he's a great athlete for a guy his size and he'll be able to maintain that when he gets in a college strength and conditioning program.
Even the relative skeptics at ESPN think Onwenu has a lot of potential, mostly noting technical inconsistencies before coming to this conclusion ($):
Onwenu is a big man that brings some very good natural tools to work with and develop and has the ability to be a productive Power-5 OG. He still needs to improve and be more consistent in other areas to better maximize his strengths and allow him to be a good and steady contributor at college level. Prospect that can be good at college level, but has the tools to be a real good college player with work and improvement.
It'll be interesting to track Onwenu's development during his senior season. The consensus on where he should end up seemed to flip after his junior year; we may not know what position he'll play at Michigan until well after he's officially part of the program. That's a good problem to have in this case. On either side of the ball, Onwenu is a quality prospect.
Onwenu's offer list is short but distinguished: Alabama, Illinois, Miami (YTM), Michigan, NC State, Ohio State, and Penn State. Various outlets report interest, but no offer, from Michigan State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. It was clear from the early going that Onwenu's recruitment was likely going to be a Michigan-OSU battle, which may have prevented other offers from being extended and/or reported.
If you're not familiar with Cass Tech you're probably not reading this post.
I can't find anything resembling complete stats for Onwenu.
FAKE 40 TIME
None listed. Given the whole "is 365 pounds" thing, that may be for the best right now.
Video from this year's The Opening regional in Chicago, possibly filmed by Tina Belcher:
Single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Wherever Onwenu lines up in college, he should fill a significant need on Michigan's depth chart. With Erik Swenson projected to play tackle, Onwenu plugs a hole at guard if he winds up on offense; with his stout frame, Onwenu is strictly an interior line prospect. If he ends up at DT, he's the first obvious nose tackle-type to join the program since Bryan Mone, who's heading into his sophomore season.
While Onwenu, for now at least, is expected to be a better guard prospect, if he's got equal ability on defense he may find the field faster on that side of the ball. How Michigan fills in the class around him may help determine where he starts out playing, though with solid prospects on both lines strongly considering the Wolverines, Onwenu should be able to line up wherever he's got the most potential.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Due to Onwenu's versatility, his commitment doesn't necessarily make a huge impact in terms of the other prospects on Michigan's board, unless the coaches already have him pegged for one position or the other. As mentioned above, Onwenu is a good enough prospect on both sides of the ball that Michigan could recruit the best offensive and defensive linemen available, then slot him in wherever there's the biggest need in the class.
As for the overall numbers, Michigan sits at seven commits, leaving seven spots open by our last count. That number is a lock to rise, and a good bet to rise considerably, pending attrition over the next several months.