Signing Day Flashback: Michael Ojemudia


Jan. 28, 2016

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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


IOWA CITY, Iowa — Michael Ojemudia had three official visits lined up last January, but after the football prospect visited the University of Iowa, there was no need for other trips.

The initial National Letter of Intent signing date for prospective football student-athletes is Wednesday, Feb. 3, meaning thousands of high school football players are putting finishing touches on the exciting, sometimes hectic, recruiting process.


Ojemudia, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound freshman defensive back from Farmington Hills, Michigan, was in their position a year ago. The No. 1 attribute he was looking for in a college was finding a place that made him feel wanted; the Hawkeyes rolled out the welcome mat.

“When you take your visit you have that feeling,” Ojemudia said. “The coaches make you feel welcome, this is a welcoming place, and you see good coaches and good people around you. That’s why I committed.”

Ojemudia joined the Hawkeye program in time to enjoy a historic 2015 season that produced 12 consecutive victories, a Big Ten Conference West Division championship, and a trip to the 102nd Rose Bowl Game. Instead of seeing game action, he watched No. 9 Iowa finish 19th in Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring defense (20.4 points per game) and 22nd in total defense (341 yards per game).

“I saw the success around me and it will only make me better for my redshirt freshman year,” Ojemudia said. “It was the best decision for me.”

One player Ojemudia kept a keen eye on was consensus All-America cornerback Desmond King, another Michigan native-turned-Hawkeye. King made 72 tackles, broke up 13 passes, had eight interceptions, and won the Jim Thorpe Award that is presented to the top defensive back in college football.

Both King and Ojemudia were recruited by UI defensive coordinator Phil Parker. Ojemudia recalls the first meeting with his eventual position coach.

“He gave me the eye test,” Ojemudia said. “He looked me up and down and analyzed me for a couple minutes without talking. Coach Parker kept up with me and called me a lot. When I realized this coach actually cared about me, that’s when I selected Iowa.”

“When you take your visit you have that feeling. The coaches make you feel welcome, this is a welcoming place, and you see good coaches and good people around you. That’s why I committed.”
Michael Ojemudia
UI freshman defensive back

Ojemudia originally committed to Eastern Michigan and was set to take official visits to Indiana and Michigan. But after looking around Iowa’s Richard O. Jacobson Football Operations Building and the people that worked inside, his first official visit became his last.

On Signing Day 2015, Ojemudia was one of 20 student-athletes at Harrison High School to sign a letter of intent. Ten were from the Hawks’ football team that went 10-3 and advanced to the Division 2 state semifinals. Parents and staff gathered with signees for a get-together and photo opportunity.

“At first there was nervousness, but as soon as you sign those papers, that’s when the relief comes,” Ojemudia said. “You see all your hard work paying off in front of you. The relief comes when it’s finally over.”

Ojemudia was also a track state qualifier in the 110-meter high and 300 hurdles and ran a leg on Harrison’s 4×100 relay.

“Being a multi-sport athlete helped,” Ojemudia said. “When (Parker) found that out, it opened his eyes even more.”

One question Ojemudia had before enrolling at the UI was what position he would play in college. In high school, he lined up at outside linebacker on defense and played receiver and tight end on offense. He will battle for playing time in the Hawkeye secondary next fall.

“I’m satisfied with where I’m at right now,” Ojemudia said. “It was a good recruiting process and it was fun.”

Ojemudia rooms with freshman wide receiver Adrian Falconer in the newly opened Petersen Residence Hall. He is pursuing a degree in engineering.

The Hawkeye football program will unveil its 2016 Signing Day class Feb. 3 with a news conference at 2:30 p.m. (CT). A “Signing Day Central” page will be posted on Wednesday with photos, highlight videos, and biographies of all the new Hawkeyes.

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