With 19 commits and counting, the Michigan Wolverines’ 2024 recruiting class will likely be the most expansive haul in the modern era. The Maize and Blue already has a five-star quarterback, five offensive linemen and a handful of other players that are highly ranked.
The one thing sticking out if the fact they only have one defensive back. Fortunately for the Wolverines, this lone pass defender — four-star safety Jacob Oden — not only happens to be a stellar athlete in his own right, but he’s also a well-connected and vocal recruiter.
Measuring in at 6-foot-1, 188 pounds, Oden already has the build of a collegiate-level safety, and per 247Sports’ Chris Singletary, there is evidence he still has plenty of room to grow.
Possessing a high football IQ and good technical baseline, Oden has the potential upside of being a multi-year starter and an anchor for the secondary once he gets accustomed to the college game. His no-nonsense, heady style of play is tailor-made for Michigan’s suite of coverage schemes and could prove to be a pivotal asset against pass-heavy teams like the Ohio State Buckeyes. Defensive backs coach Steve Clinscale has found the avatar for his defensive philosophy in the 2024 class.
Leadership and character are much harder to quantify, but there is a growing body of evidence the hometown pass defender has both in spades. As the son of a former Wolverine, Oden’s efforts on the recruiting trail are indicative of his growing love for Michigan and his maturation into a leader.
Heading into last weekend’s official visit slate, there wasn’t much optimism about Michigan’s chances with many of the talented pass defenders touring Ann Arbor. Boo Carter, a four-star athlete from Tennessee, and Bryce West, a blue-chip corner from Ohio, are favored to remain in their home states. Sensing an opportunity to do his part to help his upcoming team, Oden took it upon himself to travel to Ann Arbor to make Carter and West feel more at home.
While the results of this effort are pending, there are indications his presence made an appreciable difference. Oden even went as far as to say he’s “very confident” about Michigan’s chances with the above-mentioned duo.
He’s also scheduled to visit this upcoming weekend officially to be around two other key four-star defensive targets for the Wolverines — four-star Ohio cornerback Aaron Scott and four-star in-state linebacker Jeremiah Beasley.
Commits often play a valuable role for programs on the recruiting trail, but Oden seems to understand and embrace his role far more than what can be expected at his age. After his highly-competitive recruitment ended, he could have rested on his laurels, set in the knowledge of where he will be playing for the next three to five years. Instead, these scheduled back-to-back visits and his social media activity show he doesn’t shy away from being a leader.
Oden gives Michigan’s future secondary a solid foundation both in his pass coverage abilities and as a leader. While the hope of a 2024 class that includes Scott, West or Carter might just be that — a hope — Oden’s efforts would be among the reasons they do end up in the class. The Wolverines need players like him to make a difference on the recruiting trail, and one doesn’t have to strain their imagination too hard to envision how this enthusiasm can translate to leadership on the field in the future. These June visits could portend greater things to come from the hometown defensive back.