Westhill’s David Ojabo has announced he is entering the 2022 NFL Draft in what is the latest step of a captivating rise in American football.
North-east-raised Ojabo, 21, only started playing the sport when he moved to boarding school in New Jersey in 2017, initially with the intention to pursue athletics and basketball.
However, his 6ft 5 frame and speed made him perfect for football and, having been persuaded to play by the school’s coaches, his talent for the game won him a scholarship at the University of Michigan amid a host of other offers from top colleges.
His Junior, or third, year playing at Michigan – the most successful institution in college football – has been a breakout one personally for Ojabo.
It has also been resurgent one for legendary coach Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines – with the team winning 12 of their 14 games.
In the process they won the Big Ten Eastern Conference, then beat Iowa to the Big Ten Championship, before exiting the race for the national title at the semi-final stage against Georgia.
Ojabo has now announced he feels ready to leave college and turn professional by declaring for April’s draft, where he has been tipped as a first-round pick.
In a statement, the Nigerian-born former International School of Aberdeen pupil said: “After careful consideration with my family and loved ones, I have decided to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft.”
Speaking to the Press and Journal in October, midway through the 2021 season, Ojabo said he felt his performances, which were already making headlines in the US, were “trending in the right direction” for the pro ranks and “everything is going to work out as it should.”
Linebacker Ojabo’s eventual record of 11 sacks, 25 solo tackles and a Michigan record five forced fumbles saw him recognised as a consensus first team 2021 All-Big Ten selection.
He also formed a fearsome partnership with team-mate Aidan Hutchinson, whose own 2022 performances saw him come close to winning the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the best college football player in America.
It has been another meteoric jump upwards for Ojabo, who had to be patient after seeing no game time in his first year at Michigan as he continued to learn the sport, before starting to get playing chances in his second, or Sophomore, year.
In his statement, he added: “Coach Harbaugh took a chance on a kid who had only played the sport for a year. I am eternally grateful for that opportunity.
“Thank you to the Michigan coaches and staff for accepting me with open arms.
“Thank you to my brothers on the team who made me feel at home everyday – (it) was a pleasure working with you guys.”
Ojabo also thanked his family, who are still based in Westhill, for their “unconditional love”, as well as the staff at his boarding school Blair Academy.