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Quarterback Alex Orji’s path to Michigan, outlook moving forward

Michigan have themselves an exceptional athlete in Orji.

Michigan v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Michigan has a freshman quarterback who already possesses great running prowess and athleticism. 2022 three-star Sachse, Texas quarterback Alex Orji is the definition of a dual-threat quarterback.

The story so far

Orji threw for 2,064 yards with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2021 while rushing for 1,187 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. Orji had offers from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Baylor, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, TCU, and others.

Orji’s road to Ann Arbor came sudden last November. Orji was going to commit to Virginia Tech, but that changed when Hokies head coach Justin Fuente was fired. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh had expressed interest in Orji in the past, and reached out to Orji and his family after Fuente was fired, which led to Orji committing to Michigan in December.

For Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, he’s impressed with Orji’s high school film.

“I’ve seen him on tape a lot. He plays at the highest level of football in Texas,” Harbaugh told Jon Jansen on the In the Trenches Podcast. “Runs for 1,200 yards — you can watch the tape and say this guy’s a great runner, I mean, tremendous runner. If he had 400 yards, you’d say he’s a really good running quarterback. If he ran for 600, you’d say the same thing — but 1,200 yards, that’s way, way up there for a quarterback. And don’t get the thought in your head that he can’t throw the ball, he throws it really, really well.”

Harbaugh said looking at Orji is like looking at Herschel Walker playing quarterback, who can really throw the ball”. And during Michigan’s spring game in April, which Orji was able to take part in as an early-enrolee, he had a couple notable runs.

Outlook moving forward

Orji could see some time on the field this year in certain RPO packages, but he’s currently behind Cade McNamara, J.J. McCarthy, Alan Bowman, and Davis Warren on the depth chart. And incoming freshman Jayden Denegal will be battling Orji as well. Orji is currently a developmental player with high upside.

“Physically, Alex is very developed. He has extremely large legs. He’s gonna be hard to bring down if he’s out in the field. He has a strong arm, but I think there’s a lot of things when you’re an early enrolee quarterback that you’ve got to learn, you’ve got to develop,” quarterback Cade McNamara said. “Sometimes the rush comes a little faster, so I think he’s figuring that out, he’s figuring out where he fits in physically at this level. He came in very, very raw. So I think him being in our room with the coaching staff, and with the other guys in the room, I think he’s gonna thrive.”

Whether Orji can adjust to the speed of college football remains to be seen, what does seem to be a fact is he can be an asset running the football and a position change to running back might not be out of the question in the future. This isn’t to discredit his abilities as a quarterback, but the reality is he could see the field more often as a running back. Orji is already a powerful runner with speed to his game. It’s far too early to make any declarations one way or the other, things will play out as they should for Orji, and he will have every opportunity to prove he can sling the rock at a high clip.