Obi Ezeh

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Obi Ezeh
An American football player wearing scarlet and grey attempts to elude tacklers wearing Maize and Blue uniforms.
Ezeh attempts to shoestring tackle Beanie Wells during the 2008 Michigan – Ohio State rivalry game.
No. 92
Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1988-02-02) February 2, 1988 (age 26)
Place of birth: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 243 lb (110 kg)
Career information
High school: Catholic Central High School
College: Michigan
Undrafted in 2011
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
*Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
  • 2009 Butkus Award Preseason & Midseason Watch lists
  • 2008 All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention
  • 2007 Freshman All-America (CollegeFootballNews 1st-team, Sporting News 2nd team)
Career NFL statistics
Stats at NFL.com

Obi Pius Ezeh (February 2, 1988) is a former American football linebacker. He was included on both the 2009 midseason and the 2009 preseason watchlist for the Butkus Award.[1][2] He was the active Michigan Wolverines football career leader in tackles.[3]

In high school, he played running back on offense more regularly than linebacker on defense. He shared running duties as a sophomore and junior before becoming the starter as a senior at Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He established his school career rushing record of nearly 3,000 yards. As a senior he scored a two-point conversion to give his school a one point victory and a berth in the 2005 Michigan High School Athletic Association state championship game at Ford Field. He was also a member of a three-time state champion high school rugby team and was invited to tryout with the United States national rugby union team.

At Michigan, he redshirted as a true freshman. Then, as a redshirt freshman for the 2007 Michigan Wolverines football team, he battled for the starting middle linebacker position and appeared to have lost the position early in the season. However, after an injury he became a regular starter. He concluded the season with thirteen and twelve tackle efforts against bitter rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, respectively. He started his redshirt sophomore season with a Big Ten Conference defensive player of the week, fifteen-tackle effort for the 2008 Michigan Wolverines football team. He finished the season as an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection. Just after earning 2009 midseason Butkus Award watchlist recognition, he was removed from the starting lineup and saw limited action in the final four games.

After his senior season in 2010, Ezeh declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, where he went undrafted. He later signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins.

High school[edit]

As a youth, Ezeh was unable to play football because he was too big for the local leagues according to Grand Rapids area officials.[4] As a sophomore running back for the 2003 Catholic Central Cougars football team, Ezeh had several 100-yard games as well as multiple touchdown games,[5][6][7] even though he was not the primary weapon in the backfield.[8] Ezeh was also a member of the Cougars rugby team that placed 11th at the 2004 United States High School Rugby National Championships.[9]

As a junior running back, he opened his football season with 170 yards on 18 carries.[10] In the 2004 district championship game, he rushed for 88 yards in the first half, but was held to 5 in the second half as Catholic Central lost 33–20.[11] Over the course of the season he compiled 907 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.[12] Ezeh was recognized as a Detroit News Class B All-state honorable mention linebacker.[13] He was also selected as Grand Rapids All-area honorable mention, according to The Grand Rapids Press.[14] He also helped lead the 2005 rugby team to a State Championship threepeat.[15]

In 2005, Ezeh entered his senior season as the focal point of his school's running game and was rated as the seventh best football prospect in the state of Michigan, according to The Detroit News.[16] He was also invited to tryout for the United States national rugby union team as an outside center.[17] During the season, Ezeh was regularly among the leading rushers in the area.[18][19] In the Division 4 state semifinal game, Ezeh returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown and rushed for 136 yards on 24 carries. During the game, after Catholic Central scored on a quarterback sneak with 2:28 remaining, Ezeh scored on a two-point conversion to give his team a 35–34 victory.[20] This led them to the 2005 MHSAA state championship game at Ford Field, which they lost 17–10 to Powers Catholic High School.[21] By the end of the season, Ezeh had compiled a school record 2,914 career rushing yards, which included 33 touchdowns. During his senior year he also occasionally played linebacker, recording 34 tackles (16 for a loss).[22] Although, he missed part of the season with an ankle injury, he totaled 1,391 yards and 10 touchdowns on 217 carries and added seven pass receptions, including one touchdown,[23] and he was recognized as a 2nd-team All-area running back.[24] The Detroit News recognized him as their postseason number six blue chip prospect in the state,[25] and he was selected to play in the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's annual all-star game.[26] In February 2006, he signed his letter of intent to play for Michigan,[27] where it was unclear whether he would play fullback, tight end or linebacker.[23]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Obi Ezeh
RB
Grand Rapids, Michigan Catholic Central (MI) 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 219.5 lb (99.6 kg) 4.6 Dec 11, 2005 
Scout:3/5 stars   Rivals:3/5 stars   247Sports: N/A    ESPN grade: 69
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 72 (RB)   Rivals: 51 (RB), 12 (MI)  ESPN: 130 (RB)
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.

Sources:

Michigan[edit]

Ezeh led the 2009 Michigan Wolverines football team onto the field (above September 26 and below September 5)

As expected,[23] Ezeh, who had suffered a shoulder injury,[28] redshirted his freshman year.[3] Prior to his redshirt freshman season, he changed jersey numbers from 44 to 45 as he converted from fullback to linebacker.[29][30] On May 22, 2007, he was charged with suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated for an incident when his vehicle struck a utility pole on the same street on which he lives while his blood-alcohol content was 0.11% (the legal limit in Michigan is 0.08%). Ezeh pled not guilty, and the trial was scheduled for September 19 in the 15th District Court.[31] The time of the accident was outside the permissible times for Ezeh's restricted driving license that resulted from a prior non-alcohol-related accident.[32] On the football field, redshirt freshman Ezeh entered the 2007 NCAA Division I FBS football season for the 2007 Michigan Wolverines football team in a three-way battle to replace NFL-bound David Harris at middle linebacker with redshirt junior John Thompson and junior college transfer Austin Panter, who had been named national junior college defensive player of the year.[28] Harris also hailed from Grand Rapids and had worn the number 45.[33] The week before the season opener, The Detroit News declared Ezeh the starter,[34] however, the Ann Arbor News and Ezeh's hometown The Grand Rapids Press both stated that the race between Ezeh and Thompson was undecided heading into the game.[35][36] In the aftermath of the September 1 opening game loss to two-time defending FCS champion Appalachian State Mountaineers, more was made of the fact that both players had trouble playing the position than who had started the game.[37] Ezeh started the first game, but lost his spot to Thompson in the next two.[38] After three weeks of play, Thompson, who had been voted the hardest hitter on the team the previous two seasons, had established himself as the starter by ranking second on the team in tackles.[39] However, although Thompson had stepped up to the role he was notable for having trouble with pass coverage.[30] Ezeh accumulated no statistics in the third and fourth game,[40] but recorded his first interception in the fifth game on September 29 against Northwestern on a deflected pass.[41][42] Ezeh started that game because of an injury.[38] The following week, he again started in place of the injured Thompson and recorded nine tackles against Eastern Michigan.[40][43] He also forced a fumble and fielded one kickoff return.[38] Even though Thompson recovered from his ankle injury after four weeks,[44] Ezeh retained the starting job the remainder of the season for a total of ten starts.[45] Thompson only recorded four tackles the rest of the year.[46] On November 1, his lawyer stated that on August 29 Ezeh had pled guilty to an operating while visibly intoxicated charge, which is a serious misdemeanor but a lesser charge than the original operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and had sought alcohol counseling prior to his sentence. The plea resulted in a year's probation, three days in a work release program, a substantial payment covering fines, court costs and restitution. He committed to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving class.[47][48] In the November 3 Paul Bunyan Trophy victory against Michigan State he recorded a season-high 13 tackles and two sacks.[40] One of the sacks occurred on Michigan State's final series of downs in Michigan territory to help secure the 28–24 win.[49] Ezeh recorded 12 tackles in the Michigan – Ohio State rivalry game against Ohio State on November 17 to end the regular season.[40]

Obi Ezeh on September 5, 2009

After the graduation of Shawn Crable and Chris Graham there was again a notable battle for linebacker positions entering the 2008 NCAA Division I FBS football season for the 2008 Michigan Wolverines football team. Ezeh who had posted 68 tackles in 2007 was the leading returning tackler.[50] As the only returning starting linebacker, Ezeh assumed the role of mentor.[51] Ezeh won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award on September 1, 2008 for a game against the Utah Utes where he recorded 15 tackles and an interception.[52][53] He also earned an ABC Player of the Game recognition.[3] Ezeh also posted fifteen tackles in the October 4 game against the Illinois Fighting Illini,[54] which earned him his second ABC Player of the Game award.[3] He posted two other double digit tackle games, including a ten tackle effort in his second Paul Bunyan Trophy game.[54] Ezeh finished the season seventh in the Big Ten in tackles.[55] He was recognized as an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and the media.[56]

Ezeh lines up Theo Riddick during 2009 Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry game.

Ezeh entered the 2009 NCAA Division I FBS football season opener with the third most career starts (23) on the 2009 Michigan Wolverines football team behind punter Zoltan Mesko (38) and offensive lineman Stephen Schilling (26).[57] As a redshirt junior during the 2009 season for the Wolverines, Ezeh posted fourteen tackles against Michigan State bringing his three-game career total to 37 tackles against the Spartans.[58] Ezeh had grown up in a neighborhood with many Michigan State fans who flew their Michigan State flags,[59] and he once attended Michigan Football camp wearing a Michigan State shirt.[60] He has been included on both the 2009 midseason and the 2009 preseason watchlist for the Butkus Award.[1] The midseason list includes sixteen linebackers.[2] Although he was added to the midseason Butkus watchlist in mid October, on October 31 he was removed from the starting lineup after starting 29 straight games.[61]

Defensive unit for the 2010 Wolverines vs. the 2010 Connecticut Huskies (including #32 Jordan Kovacs, #8 Jonas Mouton, #45 Ezeh, #68 Mike Martin and #88 Craig Roh

During the 2010 NCAA Division I FBS football season he started the first six games for the 2010 Michigan Wolverines football team before losing the starting middle linebacker position to Kenny Demens.[62] Ezeh's final regular start was against Michigan State on October 9, when he tied his season-high with nine tackles and boosted his career total against Michigan State to 46.[63][64] When Jonas Mouton was unavailable for the Purdue game on November 13 due to a chest injury,[65] Ezeh stepped in and recorded his first sack of the season as well as eight solo tackles.[63]

Professional career[edit]

Pre-draft[edit]

At his initial March 17, 2011 pro day, he posted modest numbers: 40-yard dash - 5.07 seconds; vertical jump 30 inches (76.2 cm) and standing broad jump 9 feet 2 inches (2.79 m). However, after hiring a new trainer he posted better numbers at an April regional combine: 40-yard dash - 4.81 seconds; vertical jump 34.5 inches (87.6 cm) and standing broad jump 9 feet 4 inches (2.84 m) as well as a 4.81 time in the 20-yard shuttle.[66]

Washington Redskins[edit]

He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft and in the first few days following the 2011 NFL lockout he went unsigned,[67] before signing with the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent on July 31, 2011.[68] He was waived on August 19.[69]

Personal[edit]

Ezeh is the son of Pius and Nkechy. He has four siblings: Onyinye, Kaka, Nnenna and Nicole.[70]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Big Ten

    Football Weekly

    Release September 7, 2009". Big Ten Conference. 2009-09-07. p. 6. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  2. ^ a b "Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Oct. 19: Big Ten Leads All Conferences With Nine Teams Boasting Winning Records Through First Seven Weeks". CBS Interactive. 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d "45 Obi Ezeh". CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ Snyder, Mark (2008-09-04). "Michigan's Obi Ezeh takes charge". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  5. ^ "Cougars' ride hot start past Rams". The Grand Rapids Press. 2003-10-04. p. C9. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  6. ^ Bos, Jane (2003-09-21). "Cougars claim Catholic title". The Grand Rapids Press. p. D12. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  7. ^ "Cougars rip MCC". The Grand Rapids Press. 2003-09-28. p. D15. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  8. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2003-11-11). "They're big, fast on both sides of the ball". The Grand Rapids Press. p. C1. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  9. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2004-05-27). "Cougars rugby team proves it belongs at national meet". The Grand Rapids Press. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  10. ^ Johnson, Greg (2004-08-28). "Catholic Central stops skid - Cougars top Jenison for the first time in five-year rivalry". The Grand Rapids Press. p. C13. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Greg (2004-08-28). "South Christian sails past Catholic Central - Home team's adjustments secure comeback victory". The Grand Rapids Press. p. C10. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  12. ^ "45 Obi Ezeh". CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2011-08-28. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  13. ^ "High Schools: The Deroit News honorable mention football team". The Detroit News. 2004-11-28. p. 13D. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  14. ^ Bos, Jane (2004-11-29). "All-Area Second Team". The Grand Rapids Press. p. C7. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  15. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2005-05-26). "Cougars best in Michigan - Catholic Central rugby team tops brighton for state championship". The Grand Rapids Press. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  16. ^ Markowski, Tom (2005-08-24). "Top Football Players - Graham believes in power of the hit". The Detroit News. p. 04G. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  17. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2005-08-25). "The force is with him - Rugby contributes to Ezeh's strength on football field". The Grand Rapids Press. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  18. ^ "Top 10 rushers". The Grand Rapids Press. 2005-10-01. p. D14. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  19. ^ "Top 10 rushers". The Grand Rapids Press. 2005-10-22. p. D14. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  20. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2005-11-20). "Catholic Central chops down Orchard View - Cougars rally in second half to beat defending state champions 35-34". The Grand Rapids Press. p. D13. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  21. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2005-11-26). "Sidewiped at Ford; Hudsonville and Catholic Central run out of gas in finals - Last drive falls short for Catholic Central". The Grand Rapids Press. p. B1. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  22. ^ Heuser, John (2005-12-13). "Grand Rapids recruit chooses Michigan". Ann Arbor News. p. D5. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  23. ^ a b c Bos, Jane (2005-12-13). "Catholic Central star to play football at Michigan - Ezeh could end up as fullback, tight end or linebacker". The Grand Rapids Press. p. D1. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  24. ^ "All-Area Second Team". The Grand Rapids Press. 2005-11-28. p. C5. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  25. ^ "The Detroit News Blue Chip List". The Detroit News. 2006-01-15. p. 10C. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  26. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2006-02-02). "Ezeh to play in all-star game in July". The Grand Rapids Press. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  27. ^ Holzwarth, Dean (2006-02-09). "A full ride to Division I - Catholic Central duo taking football talents to U-M, CMU". The Grand Rapids Press. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  28. ^ a b Heuser, John (2007-08-16). "Middle up for grabs - Three candidates competing to replace Harris". Ann Arbor News. p. B1. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  29. ^ Heuser, John (2007-03-25). "Most of the first-team is on the sidelines - Injuries, other factors keep players out of intrasquad scrimmage". Ann Arbor News. p. B10. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  30. ^ a b Snyder, Mark (2007-09-20). "U-M linebacker Thompson filling in nicely". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  31. ^ Heuser, John (2007-08-11). "2 U-M players face charges". Ann Arbor News. p. D1. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  32. ^ Heuser, John (2007-08-11). "U-M athletes face trial - GR's Ezeh charged with drunken driving". The Grand Rapids Press. p. C4. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  33. ^ "Pressure rises on young Wolverines - With few key seniors, these Michigan players must make an immediate impact on the field". Ann Arbor News. 2008-08-24. p. W3. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  34. ^ Chengelis, Angelique S. (2007-08-30). "Michigan will lean to the left on offense". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  35. ^ Heuser, John (2007-08-28). "Fullbacks left off depth chart - Michigan to line up 3 wide receivers vs. Appalachian State". Ann Arbor News. p. B2. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  36. ^ Beardsley, Howie (2007-08-30). "MSU's fullback spot full of locals - Lowell standout will start in season opener Saturday". The Grand Rapids Press. p. D3. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  37. ^ "Shocking loss destroys Michigan's 2007 season". The Morning Sun. 2007-09-02. pp. 9, 14. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  38. ^ a b c Herman, Jack (2007-10-11). "Michigan's Ezeh proves himself on 'D'". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  39. ^ Fenno, Nathan (2007-09-20). "Hitting all the roles - Thompson rises above his bone-jarring tackles". Ann Arbor News. p. B1. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  40. ^ a b c d "Obi Ezeh #45 LB (2007 game log)". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  41. ^ "Michigan 28, Northwestern 16". ESPN.com. 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  42. ^ Seligman, Andrew (2007-09-29). "Late turnovers, Arrington touchdown catch lift Michigan to 28-16 win over Northwestern". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  43. ^ Heuser, John (2007-10-07). "Injuries, discipline alter U-M's lineup". Ann Arbor News. p. B6. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  44. ^ Heuser, John (2007-10-16). "Michigan defense thrives on turnovers - Wolverines have 13 takeaways in past 3 weeks". Ann Arbor News. p. B2. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  45. ^ "2007 football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  46. ^ "John Thompson #45 LB (2007 game log)". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  47. ^ Snyder, Mark (2007-11-01). "Brief: U-M starting MLB Ezeh sentenced to year's probation". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  48. ^ "Michigan linebacker Ezeh sentenced for driving impaired". Morris Daily Herald. 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  49. ^ Pitts, Antoine (2007-11-04). "Defense recovers just in time - After a messy second half, unit puts an exclamation point on victory with critical stops". Ann Arbor News. p. B6. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  50. ^ Pitts, Antoine (2008-08-24). "Ezeh looking to build upon breakout season at linebacker - Catholic Central grad impresses with speed". The Grand Rapids Press. p. C10. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  51. ^ Arnold, Jeff (2008-08-27). "Ezeh transitions to voice of experience - U-M sophomore linebacker in position to lead". Ann Arbor News. p. B1. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  52. ^ "Illinois' Williams, Indiana's Lewis, Michigan's Ezeh and Northwestern's Demos Named First Football Players of the Week for 2008: Illini quarterback sets personal bests in nearly every passing category while Indiana signal caller sets school record for career passing touchdowns". CBS Interactive. 2008-09-01. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  53. ^ Snyder, Mark (2008-08-30). "Michigan loses season opener at home for second season in a row". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  54. ^ a b "Obi Ezeh #45 LB (2008 game log)". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  55. ^ "Individual Statistics: 2008 Big Ten Conference Individual Statistics Through games of Jan 09, 2009". CBS Interactive. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  56. ^ "Big Ten Announces 2008 football All-Conference Teams And Individual Honors: Iowa's Green Named Offensive Player of the Year, Ohio State's Laurinaitis repeats as Defensive Player of the Year.". CBS Interactive. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  57. ^ Chengelis, Angelique S. (2009-09-17). "Mouton won't face disciplinary action". The Detroit News. p. 02C. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  58. ^ "Obi Ezeh #45 LB (2009 game log)". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  59. ^ Chengelis, Angelique S. (2009-10-02). "Wolverines watch what they wear". The Detroit News. p. 4B. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  60. ^ Snyder, Mark (2009-10-01). "Michigan's defensive priority is to prevent big plays". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  61. ^ Chengelis, Angelique S. (2009-11-12). "Minor's shoulder problem now". The Detroit News. p. 2C. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  62. ^ Chengelis, Angelique (2010-10-16). "Michigan nears kickoff with Iowa". Detroit News. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  63. ^ a b "Team: Michigan: Player: Obi Ezeh". National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  64. ^ "Team: Michigan: Player: Obi Ezeh (Opponent Michigan State)". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  65. ^ Snyder, Mark (2010-11-10). "Michigan LB Jonas Mouton iffy for Purdue game". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on 2010-11-14. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  66. ^ Wilson, Aaron (2011-04-11). "http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Michigan-LB-Obi-Ezeh-improves-workout-numbers.html". National Football Post. Reign Net Media, LLC. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  67. ^ Snyder, Mark (2011-07-27). "Martell Webb, other former Wolverines sign with NFL teams". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2011-07-27. [dead link]
  68. ^ Jones, Mike (2011-07-31). "Redskins sign linebacker Obi Ezeh". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  69. ^ "NFL transactions for August 18, 2011". Pro Football Weekly. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  70. ^ "The driver". The Grand Rapids Press. 2005-08-25. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 

External links[edit]