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David Ojabo’s road to Michigan, outlook for 2021 season

He’s got quite the backstory.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Illinois Michael Allio-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

One of the most intriguing edge rushers on the Michigan Wolverines roster is redshirt freshman David Ojabo. He had an unorthodox path to the United States, Michigan, and playing the game of football. However, he has some of the highest potential of anyone on the squad. Let’s dig into the Wolverines' intriguing prospect.

The story so far

Ojabo was born in Nigeria in May of 2000 and then moved to Scotland with his parents when he was seven. His athletic career began as most international athletes did, with soccer. However, he was always one of the tallest players on the pitch, so eventually, he began to play basketball as well.

In high school, he moved to New Jersey to play basketball at Blair Academy in New Jersey. In the process, Ojabo joined the track team and ran a 10.8-second 100-meter dash as a freshman. From then on out, staff and friends encouraged the Scotsman to give football a try.

After playing just two seasons of high school football, Ojabo earned a plethora of Division-I offers, including to the University of Michigan. He shot up to the No. 314 prospect in the class; a composite 3-star with NFL-upside according to 247sports. The athleticism and size-speed combo wowed evaluators, but Ojabo still had much to learn about the game.

He sat out his freshman season to earn the redshirt and learn from Jim Harbaugh and company. In his second year with the program, Ojabo began to see the field, but it didn’t come without hiccups. The Scotland native returned home for the summer break and was unable to re-enter the United States because of COVID. It became a national storyline as Jim Harbaugh and Michigan aired their frustrations with not being able to get Ojabo back into the country and were unable to prepare him for his future.

Eventually, the Big Ten suspended their season due to the outbreak. Ojabo got back into the country, and the Wolverines got the opportunity to see their prospect in action. He played in all six games as a special-teamer and saw a few snaps in the linebacker rotation towards the back-half of the season.

Outlook for 2021

As noted above, Ojabo has the potential to be one of the most athletic players on the defensive side of the ball in 2021. Think Kwity Paye, Rashan Gary freakish athletic ability. The question will be if he can continue to utilize those assets in the game of football. His hands have always been an issue and he is typically riddled with technique errors. Now, that shouldn’t be surprising for a young athlete that has only four-ish years of football under his belt.

In our projected depth chart, we list Ojabo as the starting outside linebacker on this team. He should be a perfect type of athletic rushing linebacker/edge rusher in Mike Macdonald’s scheme. If all things come together, he should be a potential breakout player on the roster this season and could start to garner some attention from the next level.