You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh determined to improve on 'mediocre' year

By Dave Birkett


Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh talks to reporters during Sunday, August 23rd's Michigan Football Media Day outside UM's Al Glick Fieldhouse.

Lon Horwedel |

By his own admission, Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh is coming off a “mediocre” junior season.

“It wasn’t my best year, obviously,” Ezeh said after the Wolverines’ April 17 spring game. “That’s in the past and try to move on and build a better future. I got to prove to people that last year was kind of a fluke and this is the (real) Obi.”

A three-year starter, Ezeh was Michigan’s third-leading tackler last year with 69 stops, but lost his starting middle linebacker job late in the season to Kevin Leach.

He struggled in pass coverage, seemed a step slow and too reactive against the run, and right or wrong was blamed for much of what ailed Michigan’s defense.

“There’s a lot of different things you could blame (my struggles) on, but whatever, more or less the job wasn’t getting done,” Ezeh said. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world. They’re going to put in the guys who can get the job done.”

Despite offseason rumors of a position change, Ezeh was back playing middle linebacker in Michigan’s new 3-3-5 defense this spring, albeit with a slightly different role.

“I’m smack dab in the middle,” he said. “It’s a littler grittier than what I was doing last year. I could moonlight as a defensive lineman if I wanted to. ... But you learn to live with it and you learn to love it.”

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez praised Ezeh several times over the last month, saying “he’s had a good spring” and “he’s responded” to being challenged.

But he was just as complimentary of backup Kenny Demens, a third-year sophomore who could force his way onto the field this fall.

For now, Ezeh remains with the first-team defense, and his resurrection as a player remains a work in progress.

“I’ve been working really hard in the offseason just to get my body right, stay healthy and just I wanted to come out and show these guys what I was capable of,” Ezeh said. “That was the mentality that I tried to bring every day.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 7:17 a.m.

Obi Ezeh needs to step up and apparently is trying to do so. I hope he succeeds or he will be on the bench, which is not a good thing for a senior with goals of going to the NFL. U-M needs its seniors to be leaders and role models to the underclassmen and not be underachievers like they were last year.


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 4:29 p.m.

I agree Obi could start on all the Big Ten teams and yes, he is on the best of them. Michigan gets stronger through the season, wins 10 games minimum and everyone wants to interview Coach of the year Rich Rodriguez after his dominating BOWL WIN. Armchair Michigan fans will say I told you so, naysayers, outsiders, and attackers will disappear like that did between 1879 -2007. And you will know who the Michigan faithful are - we'll be the ones with a smile from ear to ear that won't go away. GO BLUE.


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

Michigan linebacking MUST improve for the team to improve on defense. It's been terrible for the past several years. Obi is a key guy this year. IF he CAN improve a lot from last year, our defense will definitely be better. He's one of the most experienced players we have and he MUST set a good example for the younger guys. Let's hope Obi makes good on his own expectations.


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 1:37 p.m.

Play with instincts, don't overthink.

Robbie Webb

Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 1:14 p.m.

Exactly, Mitch! They just don't understand.


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

Obi could compete for a starting job on half the Big Ten teams. He's on the one who needs him most. After a few early season success Michigan will tank down the stretch and the so called king who has brought so much class to U of M will be out on his A _ _