SIDNEY — A former running back turned linebacker for the University of Michigan related his experiences playing for the Wolverines at Montcalm Community College Monday to crowd of about 50 people.
Obi Ezeh, who played for Michigan from 2007-2010, was the guest speaker at an event that was part of a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Ezeh spoke about how his experiences with the Wolverines related to life.
“I just wanted to impress on these kids, as they get ready to enter the workforce, don’t let failures, don’t let a little adversity or obstacles deter you from your goals,” Ezeh said. “Everybody fails at one time or another. It’s not about the failure, it’s how we respond to it.”
Ezeh, who currently is an accounts manager at box-making company Coastal Cas and an assistant coach at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, graduated from Michigan in 2011 and is currently pursuing his master’s degree at Aquinas College.
Ezeh said this year’s Michigan football team, which finished 7-6, wasn’t as disappointing as Wolverine fans made it to be.
“With me it’s not a disappointment because I think I understand a little bit more what goes into it,” he said. “Our fans are a little spoiled in the sense that if we don’t win a Big Ten Championship or something like that, it’s like ‘get rid of this guy’ or ‘axe that guy.’ When I was playing it was a revolving door of defensive coordinators. So now that we’ve got stability there, give it a little bit of time and I think we’ll get back to where everyone wants us to be.”
Ezeh thought transitioning from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke has had something to do with the struggles.
“When he (Rodriguez) left some of those guys remained and working in a new philosophy, it’s tough,” he said. “If you give Hoke some time to get his guys in and implement his system, you hope for the best. These things are cyclical. I think we are thirsty and hungry and that’s what will drive us to the top where we belong.”
“Earlier on in the season, rushing defense we were probably sixth in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) so I think the foundation is there. I think with any defense most defensive philosophies are built on ‘we want to stop the run and get into favorable down and distances when it comes to passing,’ Early on I saw that where we were aggressive against the run. Where we’ve fallen short in the last couple of years is the pass coverage and I think that has to do with a lot of young guys and a lot of new defenses. It’s tough.”
But Ezeh, who played running back at Grand Rapids Catholic Central, said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Guys kind of come into their own until their junior or senior year,” he said. “Obviously they develop physically, but they most likely have been in the same offense or same defense for three or four years. And that’s when it’s more subconcious and you’re reacting. Younger players learning something new, when their force-fed so much information, they’re still thinking. You need that stability.”