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Center Olu Oluwatimi’s path to Michigan, outlook for 2022

A veteran presence in the form of a highly touted grad transfer.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 29 Virginia Tech at Virginia Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michigan needed a new starting center for the 2022 season, and they found a highly decorated veteran in grad transfer Olu Oluwatimi.

The story so far

Oluwatimi was a two-star prospect in the 2017 class who spent his first year at Air Force (no game action) before transferring to Virginia.

Oluwatimi’s career began to flourish at Virginia and started 35 games during his career with the Cavaliers. Oluwatimi’s best season yet came in 2021, when he was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which goes to the best center in college football.

Oluwatimi was named Second Team All-ACC in 2021 and had the second-best run-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus. Oluwatimi did not allow a quarterback hit or sack last year.

Oluwatimi’s decision to transfer from Virginia was to maximize his final year of eligibility.

“It stood above the other options I had when I entered the transfer portal,” Oluwatimi said this spring. “And obviously, the brand of football the o-line is coming off the Joe Moore Award, and the team is coming off making the College Football Playoff. I just loved the momentum of the program and I felt like I could add to it — it was a no-brainer.”

Outlook moving forward

Michigan’s offensive line was excellent last season, but with the departures of veteran linemen such as Andrew Vastardis and Andrew Stueber, Oluwatimi’s leadership and experience will be just as valuable as his on-field talent.

“One of the first days we put on pads, one-on-one pass rush, we saw him lock up some of our better d-linemen,” tackle Ryan Hayes said in April. “We go, ‘yeah, this guy is gonna be pretty good for us.’ We knew early he’s gonna bring a lot of experience, a lot of maturity to our group.”

For Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, what’s sticking out to him with Oluwatimi is his demeanor — he just wants to work.

“The thing I loved about him was, he was never, ‘hey, I was a starter at a Power Five school at Virginia. I was a Rimington finalist. Look at me.’ Never a word like that,” Harbaugh said. “It was just, went to work and went into spring practices and now is respected by all. Because, I think, his approach, his angle of approach of how he came in and just wanted to prove himself. He helped the team, hungry to help us, to get better.”

Michigan bringing Oluwatimi into the fold was a good decision, he’s fit in well with the program, and is already a leader on the team despite being in Ann Arbor just a handful of months. Michigan loves to pound on the ground in the running game, and Oluwatimi certainly thrives in run-blocking. His metrics weren’t as high in 2021 as a pass blocker, but he must be doing something right if he didn’t give up a sack or QB hit. Michigan wants to get back to the playoff again this year, and Oluwatimi’s presence is a sign they’re doing everything they can to win.