Ojemudia takes after brother in game at the Big House

Michael Ojemudia is familiar with The Big House, but he’ll get his first and last chance to play there on Saturday.

Iowa+defensive+back+Michael+Ojemudia+runs+back+an+interception+during+a+football+game+between+Iowa+and+Rutgers+at+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+September+7%2C+2019.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Scarlet+Knights%2C+30-0.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defensive back Michael Ojemudia runs back an interception during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia is no stranger to the Big House. In fact, he’s quite familiar with Michigan’s famed stadium.

Mario Ojemudia, the Hawkeye senior’s older brother, played on Michigan’s defensive line from 2012-15.

Michael Ojemudia has been to Ann Arbor before to cheer on his brother; now, he’s going back as a player.

“For me, it’s a really good opportunity, and I’ve got to put away a lot of distractions and just focus on the task at hand,” Michael Ojemudia said. “For him, I know he’s rooting for me, and I’m not sure what jersey he’s going to have on.”

Mario Ojemudia recorded 8 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss in his career with the Wolverines, and he even imitated his brother by picking off a pass in his freshman campaign.

The elder Ojemudia’s best season came in 2014, when he racked up 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss as a junior.

This season, the younger Ojemudia has intercepted 2 of Iowa’s 3 and has been a key leadership piece in the Hawkeyes’ injury-riddled secondary.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Michael Ojemudia, and it won’t be another ordinary game with his family’s history with the Wolverines, he said.

After all, it will be his only opportunity to play in Ann Arbor.

“In practicality, it would be good to treat it like any other game, but it’s not really just any other game,” he said. “Going into that stadium, things can get personal. But the thing is during this game, you just have to stay focused. They’re going to come with their best shots.”

Michael Ojemudia said he’ll have family and friends at the game and will receive text messages from them throughout the week, and the same will likely be true for some of his teammates.

Iowa’s roster features five players on its two-deep depth chart from the state of Michigan: in addition to Ojemudia, offensive lineman Alaric Jackson, safety Kaevon Merriweather, defensive end Chauncey Golston, and defensive tackle Cedrick Lattimore.

Just as this week marks a big game for Ojemudia and his brother, it’s important for his Michigan teammates as well.

“I got a couple of teammates that I played in high school with and that I grew up with,” Lattimore said. “It means a lot to us going back home. Playing back in the Big House should be very exciting, and that’s what we want to do.”

Former Iowa cornerback Desmond King is also a Michigan native, and he had a decorated career at Iowa that was topped with a Thorpe Award and All-American honor in 2015.

The Michigan tradition has been strong in the Hawkeye program for several years now, and it all started with recruiting.

“I think credit there goes to [defensive coordinator] Phil Parker,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We have to see diamonds in the rough, typically. Not 100 percent, but usually the home-state schools don’t offer guys who we recruit out of state. You’ve got to find something there that we think will mesh well with our program.”

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