Big Red Recon: Huskers Enter the Home Stretch
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Recruit Profile: Michael Onyemaobi

February 01, 2017

Who Else Was Interested

Nebraska didn’t begin pursuing Onyemaobi until late in the process, as the Huskers waited until Jan. 13 to offer the talented athlete. Prior to receiving an offer from Nebraska, Onyemaobi had been committed to California and head coach Sonny Dykes. Cal’s surprising decision to fire Dykes led to Onyemaobi looking around and he set up official visits to UNLV, TCU and Nebraska during the final three weeks of the recruiting cycle. It quickly became a two-team race between the Huskers and the Horned Frogs, as Onyemaobi visited the two schools on Jan. 20 and Jan. 27. Despite the Horned Frogs having Sonny Dykes on staff, Onyemaobi chose the Huskers during a ceremony at his high school on National Signing Day.

Eye Test

Onyemaobi measures in at 6-1 and 185 pounds. Onyemaobi has a fantastic frame for a safety and is extremely rangy with long arms and legs. One of the most intriguing things about Onyemaobi is that he is not even close to filling out his frame yet, as he can easily add 15 pounds of muscle to his frame and become an imposing presence in the back end of a defense. It may take a year or two in the weight room, but I expect Onyemaobi to measure in at 6-1 and at least 205 pounds by the time he is finished filling out.

http://www.hudl.com/video/3/4449172/5721e5f09a90ec5540ada6de

Strengths

His speed/range: The Huskers need safeties that can cover a ton of ground if they want to continue playing an aggressive man to man scheme, making Onyemaobi a fantastic fit for the Husker defense. Onyemaobi is a long strider that covers a ton of ground in the backend of Chaparral’s secondary, serving as the unofficial eraser for his teammate’s mistakes. Onyemaobi’s speed will also help him contribute to Nebraska’s special team units, as he will be a nice fit for the “gunner” role on Nebraska’s cover units.

His ball skills: One of the more encouraging things about Nebraska’s secondary in 2016 was the Huskers ability to make a play on the football. Onyemaobi will help continue that trend, as he brings tremendous hands and ball skills to his defensive back position. Onyemaobi tracks the ball well in the air and gets himself in position to make a play on the ball. When the football arrives, Onyemaobi does a good job of attacking the ball at its highest point with two hands and not allowing the ball to get into his chest. Onyemaobi’s impressive ball skills mean that he projects well to the free safety position in Nebraska, where he can play a centerfield role similar to what Kieron Williams played in 2016.

His physicality: Onyemaobi doesn’t hit like a 185 pounder, as he brings some impressive physicality on film. Onyemaobi does a solid job of entering contact low and exploding into the ball carrier, allowing him to consistently knock them off of their base and drive them backwards. Onyemaobi’s physicality should only improve over the next four years as he continues to grow and add strength.

Weaknesses

Adjusting to the free safety position: Onyemaobi was a good cornerback in high school, but his best route for playing time at Nebraska is at the free safety position, meaning he will need to adjust to a new position in Lincoln. Onyemaobi has the core skills you need to play safety, but he will need to work on staying in his backpedal and keeping his head on a swivel instead of locking in on one receiver like he did in high school.

Adding strength to his frame:
Onyemaobi has a great frame and should be an imposing safety eventually, but right now he is to skinny to be an effective defender at the collegiate level. I’d like to see Onyemaobi add at least 10 pounds to his frame before he is ready to consistently battle for reps on Nebraska’s defense.

Conclusion

Great late find by Williams, as he continues to prove that he is one of the finest West Coast recruiters in the game. Onyemaobi is a bit raw at this point and will need to adjust to a new position, but he brings a tantalizing combination of size, speed and potential. Onyemaobi isn’t ready to play right now, but luckily Nebraska is loaded at safety entering 2017, meaning they can be patient and bring Onyemaobi along slowly. I’d expect Onyemaobi to redshirt in 2017 and then emerge as a special teams ace in 2018 and battle for starting reps by his redshirt sophomore.

College Comparison: Faster version of Oregon safety Tyree Robinson

Pro Comparison: Miami Dolphins safety Baccari Rambo

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