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Michigan Wolverines star David Ojabo’s journey from Nigeria to the college football playoffs

Ojabo is a force to be reckoned with

Michigan linebacker David Ojabo plays during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MICHIGAN – As everybody waits for the ball to drop for 2022, college football fans anticipate kickoff for their respective schools as the Michigan Wolverines and the Georgia Bulldogs will duke it out at the Capital One Orange Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal inside Hard Rock Stadium.

We know about Heisman runner-up Aidan Hutchinson and his journey as he set the single-season sack record at 14 in 2021. But on the other side, junior edge rusher David Ojabo is making a name for himself.

Ojabo is a force to be reckoned with. He has accounted for 11 of the team’s 34 sacks this season while also adding 24 tackles. The stellar season has him locked as a potential first-round draft pick.

His stardom started in the fatherland but on a different football field.

“Usually during break time in school in Nigeria, soccer was a normal game boys played,” David Ojabo’s mother, Ngor Ojabo, said.

David Ojabo was seven years old when his father, Victor Ojabo, received an international assignment, moving the family to Aberdeen, Scotland, where David’s athletic ability was on full display.

“It’s where he picked up basketball, volleyball, baseball, even rollerblading,” Ngor Ojabo said. “He dominated.”

Due to lack of competition, Ngor Ojabo said David Ojabo would become frustrated, so at the age of 15, he formulated a plan of his own and brought it to his parents’ attention.

“He comes home, and he wants to move to the United States,” Ngor Ojabo said. “For real? Why? One, he was just 15. This is miles away. And two, he was doing so well. He was the top player in Scotland, but David is someone who knows what he wants, and he kept pressing.”

In the end, it was a family decision, so David Ojabo moved to New Jersey, where he attended Blair Academy to play basketball and soccer.

“When he got there, it didn’t work out as expected,” Ngor Ojabo said. “I believe he didn’t have enough time coming from Scotland. THe play is very different.”

David Ojabo walked into the football coach’s locker room as a junior, and asked if he could play on the team.

Despite his lack of experience, the obvious answer from the coach was yes. David picked up the American game very quickly. When David Ojabo left Blair Academy, he had 35 college offers.

He left Blair Academy with 35 college offers.

“We met Urban Meyer,” Ngor Ojabo said. “He gave me about five championship rings to wear.”

Ngor Ojabo said the family picked Michigan because Jim Harbaugh is very relatable. They liked how the staff was like family and how the University emphasized academics.

Victor and Ngor Ojabo would watch Michigan games from afar.

“Before every game, David will call the family, a video call,” Ngor Ojabo said. “He calls from the locker room, and as a family, we would pray together. We do it for every single game.”

The Ojabo’s would get the chance to see their son play for the first time against Ohio State this year, and you know how that turned out.

Ojabo finished with three solo tackles and a sack of the quarterback.

“We have never watched him live,” Ngor Ojabo said. “You can imagine, we were so happy we attended. I didn’t know the atmosphere would be that huge, especially when he had the sack. People were screaming his name all over the place with the pom-poms.”

The Ojabo’s stayed in the US for the Big Ten Championship game. They are back in Scotland and will watch David play in the College Football Playoff with a five-hour time difference.

Ngor Ojabo said her son had come a long way, and so has she. She is now beginning to understand the game her son is thoroughly dominating.

“Touchdown or sack of the quarterback. For me, that’s the game,” Ngor Ojabo said. “I just learned that last year.”

David’s brother Victor flew to Miami to watch his brother play in person on New Year’s Eve for the first time. If Michigan wins, Victor Sr. and Ngor Ojabo will fly again to Indianapolis for the National Championship.

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About the Authors:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.