"I can really see him blossoming for Wisconsin," Brookfield Central third-year head coach Jaime Meulemans said. "He's going to put on a lot more weight and he can play at 275 pounds. He'll play a nice three technique and get a lot thicker as he goes."
Obasih (6-4, 245) has found his comfort level on the football field, as evident by his performance Friday in a 24-0 shutout over Milwaukee Marquette. From quarterback sacks to quarterback hurries to tackles for loss, Obasih filled up the stat sheet consistently against the Hilltoppers, bringing his season total 18 solo tackles, seven assists and three sacks.
"I feel so much more comfortable," said Obasih. "The coaches are putting me in the right spots to make a play when we need it. It's a team effort. First three games weren't as good as I thought it would be. I thought it would turn out to be a (crappy) senior year, but I knew I had to pick it up. We really committed ourselves as a whole team to commitment and focus. We all focused on our techniques, and I think it's really going to help us to start rolling."
Obasih and the Lancers are playing loose, too. When he registered his only sack of the game, Obasih mimed having a basketball in his hands and simulated a turn-around, fade-away jumper that may or may not have impressed UW basketball coach Bo Ryan.
"The d-line has a motto of ‘buckets' and that's our thing," said Obasih. "Once we have a great play, we turn to each other and say ‘buckets.' We're so excited that we play with a lot of heart."
With the way he played and the way he spoke, it was evident that the joy of football has returned for Obasih. After committing to Wisconsin in April, Obasih admitted he lost his drive over the summer, not feeling the pressure anymore to go out and compete hard every day to impress coaching staffs and earn more scholarship offers.
"It was hard to stay focused," said Obasih. "I wanted to be the best and I had that drive to get those offers. After committing, I had to find a new drive."
The struggles reflected in how the Lancers started the season. After winning one game by a point and another in overtime, Obasih admitted to hitting a low point following his team's 38-21 loss to Sussex Hamilton that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. It was at that point that Obasih found his drive again in terms of wanting to be the leader for his team.
"He's got that motor that all the recruiters love and it's a lot of attention for a 17-year-old kid to handle," said Meulemans. "It's hard to consume all that and he's handled that and fought through that. He's been a great leader for us. I think he put too much on his shoulders and that he had to do it all. Now he's realizing that he has great pieces around him that he can just do his job."
Obasih continues to be proactive in recruiting and talking to other players who are being recruited by Wisconsin. Obasih was one of the reasons Brookfield East defensive Alec James committed in August and he's spent time talking to Wisconsin cornerback commit Keelon Brookins and UW's top cornerback target Sojourn Shelton.
Obasih also got to see how talented Marquette junior and Wisconsin commit Conor Sheehy was when the two lined up against one another sporadically throughout the game.
"He played great in the first half," Obasih said of Sheehy. "He was a monster out there. I thought he was going to show me up. I had to come out and show him how the older kid does it. He played pretty good. I had him a couple times and he had me a couple times, so I really enjoyed it."
Inside the office of Meulemans behind all the pictures of Lancers great sits a letter from the University of California addressed to Obasih. Since committing to Wisconsin, California has been one of the few schools that recruits Obasih, trying to get the three-star athlete to take an official visit.
The letter was unopened. It likely will remain that way.
Analysis: Obasih played a lot of inside tackle against Milwaukee Marquette to really utilize the strengths and speed of his fellow linemen. When Central ran a stunt and had Obasih rush from the outside, his burst and strength to get around players was clearly noticeable and hard to contain. After relying on his speed to make plays earlier in the year, Obasih is now relying on his technique, as he played a clean game and played within himself; a nice change from what I've seen from him previously.
Obasih appeared more comfortable in a three technique than anywhere else, as he likes to play that slant/tackle position. Doubtful he'll be able to play that position at Wisconsin, so the big goal for him to get comfortable playing a strongside defensive end position. His swim move is a deadly weapon at the high school level, so it'll be important for him to continue to build that along with his bull rush.
Once relying on his speed to help him correct minor mistakes he was making, Obasih was very clean on Friday with the way he was generally able to get off blockers and pursue the football. If he can play mistake-free football and play with that speed, he'll be a dangerous player at the next level.
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