Michael Onuoha in Focus

Image from Soonersports.com

I’m sure many of you love hearing about how players that we haven’t seen on the field yet are doing or had been doing in practice. Throughout the off-season we will try to bring you some “behind the scenes” looks at some intriguing players on Oklahoma’s roster. For now most of the information will be based on what we saw last time we had a chance to look at some of the OU prospects (we saw most in practice/Fall camp this past season) but hopefully this spring we will be able to bring you more updated information. As many of you know these are all young players that are developing fast. We saw how quickly some of our young players grew up between the end of the regular season and the bowl game. I suspect we will see a great deal of growth this off-season.

Back in November there were some folks curious about Charles Walker and Mathew Romar which we responded to in a “Mailbag” post. If you missed it, here it is: https://thefootballbrainiacs.com/?p=1323

This week I thought I’d give you a few thought on Michael Onuoha or “Big Mike”:

A former undersized power forward at Edmond Santa Fe, Onuoha has very limited experience playing football in general. Oklahoma and Missouri ended up getting very involved in his recruiting. UTSA, where I used to do recruiting evaluations, is where I came across him. I got a chance to see him up close for the first time at the OU football camp and have seen him many times since then. Michael Onuoha’s true position is still a bit of a mystery. When he was first recruited, Oklahoma was still running an even front and he would have fit in perfectly at defensive end. In Oklahoma’s new front things are a bit up in the air. At first Oklahoma tried him at stand up OLB opposite of Striker. Onuoha is a really long player, much taller than any of the other prospects we have at the position but he is still very raw.

For a player his size he is explosive with a good initial step that is long and it allows him to gain separation quickly. His long reach gives him a good counter move into a bull rush because the tackle is having to recover ground because of Mike’s quickness and that ulimately forces the OT to play too high. However, Onuoha still seems to struggle with getting to the corner and being able to collapse the pocket which allows the tackle time to recover and play him honestly. It will be imperative for him to really gain big strides in his overall flexibility. In my opinion, currently he is just too stiff in the hips to really be a complete pass rusher, at least at the stand-up position. But Oklahoma seems to have done an excellent job of putting weight on him and when I saw him in New Orleans in street clothes he looked like a rock solid 250 lbs.

If Devante Bond emerges like a lot of people are anticipating, then I believe they will slide Onuoha down to the 4i DE position where he would go from a stiff OLB to potentially a flexible 4i DE. With the developing depth at that position, he could crack the rotation. It won’t be easy but he’s got the athleticism to do it. He really is a tremendous athlete and one thing I have learned is that former basketball players with limited experience are like blank canvases. You can coach them and mold them into whatever you want and teach them to play whatever technique you want. There are certainly things that may take a little longer to teach because the player is so raw but you don’t have the bad habits to break either.

We look forward to seeing Mike in the spring and seeing where he ultimately ends up. He has a tremendous frame and great athleticism so he can be about as big he wants to be. At this point my guess is he ends up at the 4i.

  • Won

    Thanks for the nice article Ace. BOOMER!

  • Super K

    good stuff Ace!

  • Steve Johns

    Good stuff, as usual. We fans tend to forget about recruits who redshirt.

  • lovethemsooners

    Would love for the light to go on for this young man like it did former basketball player Charles Tapper. I kind of expect both him and DJ Ward to both make impacts on this team in the future(they better hurry though, that depth chart is filling up fast). Thanks for the write up on Mike. Always good to read about how these players are developing and what their potential status may be in the future.

  • ToatsMcGoats

    Awesome idea! You guys really make this place a great place to come to compared to the other sites because you offer unique articles and insights such as this. I’m honestly blown away by how you’ve set yourselves apart from all the other sites. Seriously, thanks. It is truly appreciated!

    • Super K

      You’re too kind bro. Hopefully we can bring y’all some REALLY great stuff from spring practice.

  • Justin Johnston

    Just curious but with his bball background and athleticism could he be a great candidate for TE?

    • blaster1371

      That’s what I was thinking. That all-pro TE at San Diego came to mind (Gates ?).

      • Adrian

        I definitely agree. He could have natural hands and he has the size. Just needs to learn blocking techniques, I wouldn’t put it past Stoops at this point, he knows what he is doing and he usually has success when he switches players to a new position

  • Indy_sooner

    At this point, I am super stoked on the potential of this team. At the rate the coaches are developing players, any of the redshirts can come out and become stars next fall.

  • Sooner Ray

    Love to hear about the hidden gems. No one seems to put out info on these guys in waiting.

  • leatherneck1061

    Totally agree about athletes like this being a blank slate for the coach to write on, and I think we definitely have to give coach Mike props for his record of spotting and developing exactly the kind of talent he wants. Great stuff.

  • bmrsnr

    Somewhat disappointing in this news, was hoping he could be an Aldon Smith type OLB. We need length, size, and athleticism from the OLB spot. I’m not sure any of our starting LB’s are over 6’1.

  • Shifty

    I think his position is going to come down to how much weight he can put on…he injured his shoulder last spring and wasn’t able to workout out as hard as he could. This likely set back his progress gaining weight. If he’s up to 250 now then he’s started adding..it’s be interesting to see what he is at this spring. Most gains come in the winter and summer when Smitty has them

  • ccmosaic

    Great write up. These write ups are why I love this site so much. You all do such an incredible job. Thank you.

  • JY

    nice job Ace!

  • Ace

    The NFL has seen a lot of growth from former basketball players especially undersized PFs like Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez etc. Oklahoma converted Geneo last year for the spring to TE until he came back and has seen a lot of growth at DE. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Onuoha convert to the TE position and would think he has tools as well.