As Ruke Orhorhoro ate lunch last weekend at Schembechler Hall, he got a tap on the shoulder and demand: go see Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in his office.
The defensive end from River Rouge, Mich., left Harbaugh’s office a few minutes later with a scholarship offer.
“Coach Harbaugh told me where I was on the defensive end depth chart, and that I was one of the top players,” Orhorhoro said. “I was in the top 10 or 20, and my academics are high, so that boosted me up even more. He likes the way I play, too.”
Less than 18 months ago, Orhorhoro had never even played organized football. His athleticism and his love for learning have helped make him a Division I football prospect.
“I always wanted to play football when I was young,” Orhorhoro told Land of 10. “The first high school I went to, Trillium Academy [in Taylor, Mich.], didn’t have football. I played basketball there. When I went to River Rouge, I found out they had a good football team so I said, ‘Sign me up.’ ”
Orhorhoro, 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, is listed by 247Sports as the No. 23 player in the state at his position in the Class of 2019.
“To think about it now, this scholarship offer means the world,” Orhorhoro said. “Michigan is a great school and has a great academic program. They’re the winningest college program in history. For them to take their time to recruit me, that’s really big.”
Orhorhoro said his coaches at River Rouge identified his upside as a potential college football player and encouraged him to foster that.
“I had good size, and the River Rouge coaches took me under their wing,” Orhorhoro said. “They told me I could be a Power 5 player. They told me if I put in the work all summer and in the fall, I could do it. I took their advice.”
Orhorhoro told Land of 10 in the fall that he doesn’t pay close attention to his stats, but he estimated he had more than 12 sacks and 20 tackles for loss.
Orhorhoro’s visit to Michigan for its junior day on March 17 has made Michigan a strong contender for his football future. He got 1-on-1 time and a scholarship offer from Harbaugh, but also met other 2019 prospects and toured the football facilities and campus.
“Most junior days, you’re in a really large group, but at Michigan, you’re in small groups of five people each,” Orhorhoro said. “You can be more into it; you can ask a lot of questions. They show you all the facilities. They show you the academic aspects, and I spoke to a lot of advisers and people who help the football team.
“It was cool, with a lot of top players there. For them to be at Michigan, it’s really cool to be among people who are on the same path as you.”
Orhorhoro said he holds offers from 19 schools, including Michigan. He plans to make more unofficial visits prior to football season. He won’t rush into making his college decision.
However, he plans to graduate early from River Rouge and enroll for the 2019 spring semester.
“It’s really a blessing,” Orhorhoro said of being an FBS prospect. “God blessed me with talent and physicality to play the sport. And a wonderful brain and a hard work ethic. If you learn how to balance it, it shouldn’t be that difficult to do.”
— Ruke Orhorhoro (@D1ruke) March 17, 2018
Correction: Trillium Academy was misspelled in the original post. Land of 10 regrets the error.