Central Catholic High School
(Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Position Rank: #74
His Recruiting Story
With Obi Ezeh, it was never a question of whether or not the young man from Grand Rapids, Mich. would be a Wolverine. Since the Wolverines extended an offer to the fullback back in October, Michigan had been the team to beat. A multi-year camper at Michigan, Ezeh had become very familiar with the Michigan program before even beginning his senior year. And, although not a top target early in the season, his play over the course of his senior year opened eyes as he rushed 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns.
However, while Michigan was always the team to beat, his senior season always came first. Ezeh said Michigan offensive coordinator Terry Malone is recruiting him. "I really don't want to say that anyone leads, but if I have to I'll say Michigan is leading," he said. "I'm looking for a good school to get a good education." Despite the early bond with the Wolverines, Ezeh did not rush a decision. It wasn't until December, after football had ended, that Ezeh made the call to the Wolverines.
Along with Michigan, it was the Indiana Hoosiers that figured the most prominently in Ezeh's recruitment. With offers from Western Michigan, Indiana and Michigan, it was never more then a three team race. Michigan received an official visit in December, but it was ultimately an unofficial visit for the Penn State game that sealed the deal.
"It was pretty amazing," Ezeh said. "Everyone was excited, and the players after the game were very happy. I got to hang out with them after, especially the Grand Rapids players, Rueben Riley, Kevin Grady, and David Harris."
Coming into the game, we knew that we'd see Obi at running back and linebacker and that Michigan was primarily recruiting him at linebacker, although they've expressed the possibility of him also playing fullback or even tight end. Obi injured his ankle early in the year and missed two games. He still isn't completely at 100%, but in talking to people close to the program, tonight he was at the healthiest he'd been all year.
The game ended up being a 35-0 rout in Catholic Central's favor. Still, we got to see Obi on both sides of the ball until the middle of the 4th quarter. He started the game playing mostly offense and substituting on defense. As the game went along, he stayed in the lineup longer on defense. On offense, Catholic Central runs a lot of sets with wingbacks, so while Obi is essentially playing fullback, a lot of the time he is the lone back set behind the quarterback. A few times, the wingback would motion behind Obi, creating a traditional I-Formation and making him the lead blocker. As a lead blocker, when he locked on, he showed good strength and kept his man at bay. He wasn't overpowering though and didn't seem overly aggressive on his blocks. He looked solid in pass protection, where he would often be lined up just behind the tackle, and was basically playing an H-Back/tight end type role.
Early in the game, Creston stacked the middle pretty well and was penetrating Catholic Central's line. Hence, Obi's first few carries (simple dive plays) were stuffed. Finally he broke out on a counter, where he showed decent speed around the corner and then punished defensive backs in the open field. He stiff-armed one defender away and the last man back, a safety, got him around the ankles. Creston's defenders were doing a good job of not tackling him high, as he is so strong that hitting him low was the only way to go. However, on a toss play later in the game, he got around the edge and was met by a couple Creston defenders who tried to go at his legs. The first defender bounced off his legs and hung on for dear life. Obi broke that tackle, another arm tackle, juked the last defender and was off to the races for a long TD run. All in all, he showed good potential as a ball carrier and pass protector from the fullback position; what we didn't get to see tonight was him in the passing game.
On defense, he was playing from a two point the entire night, but was coming off the edge a lot. When he was in the game, they were featuring more of a 3-4 look and he was their rush LB. He would show blitz on every play, but would occasionally drop into coverage. As a rusher, he showed good ability as a blitzer, but what was more impressive was his read/recognition ability. The tendency is for an edge rusher to be too aggressive and explode off the snap leaving them too far upfield to make a play. Obi would come off the snap hard, but he would quickly read draws that were coming in his direction and stay home. He was a sure tackler in the open field and showed a great motor in pursuit. When he would show blitz and drop into a zone, he did a nice job. He stayed disciplined and turned his man over to other zones at appropriate times. He made a great INT on one play where he dropped into the zone, read the QB and jumped the receiver's route. A few times, when Creston would go to more of a spread out look, Obi would cover the slot receiver and did a pretty decent job of running down the field with some of Creston's speedy slot guys.
Signing Day Capsule: Obi Ezeh
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