2019 Season Countdown: #15 Michael Onwenu

2019 Season Countdown: #15 Michael Onwenu


August 18, 2019
Michael Onwenu (image via MGoBlue)

Name: Michael Onwenu
Height:
6’3″
Weight:
370 lbs.
High school:
Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position:
Offensive guard
Class:
Senior
Jersey number:
#50
Last year:
I ranked Onwenu #22 and said he would be the starting right guard (LINK). He started all thirteen games.
TTB Rating:
78

Onwenu has had an up-and-down career at Michigan so far. He has struggled with his weight, for one, and the roster refuses to list him at more than 350 lbs. even though coaches acknowledge that he’s about 370 lbs. right now. And if he’s 370 right now, he has probably been 380 or 390 at times in the past. Onwenu has also struggled with the consistency of his play on the field, sometimes looking like a road-grader and other times looking like a statue. On the plus side, he was named a Third Team All-Big Ten player by the coaches and Honorable Mention by the media.

This year we should see more of the same from Onwenu. Seniors don’t generally take huge leaps, so I don’t expect a major one from him this year. There has been some buzz about him in the off-season. He has the right guard spot locked down, and his experience is even more valuable now that Andrew Stueber is injured and a redshirt freshman (Jalen Mayfield) will be starting next to him at right tackle. Backup options include redshirt junior Stephen Spanellis and redshirt sophomore Chuck Filiaga, not to mention redshirt sophomore Joel Honigford, who has at least temporarily bumped out to tackle to help back up Stueber/Mayfield.

Prediction: Starting right guard

17 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1447
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 18, 2019 at 11:47 AM

    Having the RT position settled only helps Onwenu; last year he & JBB could be devastating in run block combos

    Passpro is another story. Will his footwork improve? Can he survive a no huddle pace?

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 40
    Joined: 1/2/2016
    peterfumo
    Aug 18, 2019 at 11:49 AM

    I know it is way past being a relevant question, but would Onwenu have been better off as a nose tackle?

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1447
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Aug 18, 2019 at 12:12 PM

      I said that in 2016, but at the time the entire OL had been a mess for years, and we couldn’t have known we’d have this depth by now, with so few DTs

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1208
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Aug 18, 2019 at 6:30 PM

      I think yes, but we probably wouldn’t have been.

      Unless he shows some consistency that he hasn’t shown so far, I still believe he’ll catch some try at the nose position at the next level.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 260
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Aug 18, 2019 at 8:34 PM

      He’d probably be a one-down NT in the mold of Mone. Onwenu does not have the stamina to play a bunch of DT snaps. And Brown wants DL who can run, pursue, and rush. Onwenu has an NFL career waiting for him at OG if he wants it. Biggest thing to me (even bigger than the weight issue) is he needs to get a little meaner.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3215
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Aug 19, 2019 at 7:27 AM

        I think Onwenu would have been a better nose tackle than Mone. My positive vibes toward Mone waned once he put on all that weight, because his athleticism disappeared. For his own career, I think he would have been better off as a 280-300 lb. strongside end/3-tech tackle. Instead, he became a 340 lb. nose tackle.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 18, 2019 at 5:30 PM

    This is a pretty negative run-down of an all-conference player who has started 22 games in 3 years and is expected by many to be taken in the NFL draft.
    https://walterfootball.com/draft2020OG.php

    Compare back to a guy who started 1 game in 3 years, just a year ago –
    https://touch-the-banner.com/2018-season-countdown-19-jon-runyan-jr/

    The same player made a huge leap as a senior, much to his credit. With all the positive buzz about Onwenu in the offseason I’d be surprised if he wasn’t 1st or 2nd team all conference this year.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5151
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 18, 2019 at 5:30 PM

      Onwenu was an elite pass protector last year per PFF.
      https://twitter.com/PFF_College/status/1154409233967923200

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3215
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 18, 2019 at 8:43 PM

      As I’ve mentioned before, being named all-conference on the offensive line is largely a name recognition thing.

      Were you on a good offense?
      Yes.
      Have you been starting for more than one season?
      Yes.
      You’re in, because I’ve seen you on TV.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 11
        Joined: 9/3/2015
        Joby
        Aug 18, 2019 at 9:41 PM

        Couldn’t you say the same about Bredeson? He has also become a very good OG, but he had major targeting issues that resolved last year.

        The earlier comment about Onwenu needing to be meaner seems very strange. He was burying people on a regular basis in the run game and had the highest Mgoblog UFR rating (and the fewest pass minuses). I think he’s vastly underrated in value, both here and in general.

        • Painter Smurf
          Comments: 260
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          Painter Smurf
          Aug 18, 2019 at 11:33 PM

          Have you watched Onwenu? The comment about him needing to get meaner is about finishing blocks with authority. Despite his size, he has been more of a position-blocker than a mauler. Not saying he is not effective, but he often takes his foot off the gas rather than bury a guy once engaged. The Rivals analyst (Skene) has mentioned this too if memory serves, so I am not alone.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5151
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 18, 2019 at 11:36 PM

            Rivals has been dogging Onwenu for the last couple years. I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3215
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Aug 19, 2019 at 7:28 AM

            I agree that he does not finish blocks well. Some people think he’s looked down upon because he lacks athleticism, but that’s not the case. The guy can move pretty well, which is one reason why I always liked him as a nose tackle.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5151
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 18, 2019 at 11:35 PM

        Onwenu’s honors are backed by PFF and NFL scouting.

        The kind of thing you’re talking about happens but Onwenu doesn’t really fit the profile. It’s usually 4th or 5th year players.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3215
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 19, 2019 at 7:37 AM

          I disagree. If you want proof, check out the All-Big Ten teams. Offensive skill guys who were All-Big Ten include players from Purdue, Maryland, Illinois, and two guys from Nebraska.

          All-Big Ten linemen – every single one – were from teams that all had at least 9 wins (Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State) and 8-5 Wisconsin, which had a 2,000-yard rusher.

          Is it just a coincidence that good skill guys can be scattered around among all teams, but that good linemen can’t?

          There’s a Stewart Mandel tweet floating around that says the same thing. I should have bookmarked it for you.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5151
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 19, 2019 at 12:39 PM

            I don’t dispute that some honors are undeserved or the clustering of OL honors to good teams. I think the only place we really disagree is what is a bigger factor in undeserved honors – starting experience or age. These are often correlated so this is a nuanced debate.

            I’m saying it tends to be the vets on those good teams who get undeserved love. Guys who emerge to start in their first or second year are often doing that because they’re legit players bound for the NFL.

            It’s good to have evidence to back up the claim of undeserved honors. I’m not seeing it here. Onwenu’s accolades are backed up by external measures like PFF, UFR, and NFL draft projection.

            If Onwenu’s inconsistency was really a problem Runyan or Spanellis would have been starting over him in ’17 and ’18 respectively. Consensus seems to be these are pretty quality players and Onwenu has been better than them, consistently.

            If anyone’s accolades should be in doubt they are Runyan’s IMO. LT is the highest profile position and he started there as a senior. It was a breakout year, but his PFF numbers were unexceptional at best and he still has no NFL buzz. Before that he was at guard behind Onwenu in ’16 and ’17 despite being older.

            Runyan deserves tons of credit for how far he has come. And maybe Onwenu deserves getting knocked for not playing up to his talent level/potential. But the fact remains that Onwenu was a far better player through 3 years than Runyan was through 3 years. Fan reactions in general and the countdown specifically would have you thinking the opposite. The optimism in regard to Runyan heading into 2018 vs the negativity towards Onwenu in 2019 is quite the contrast.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5151
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 19, 2019 at 12:45 PM

            The majority of all conference OL were 4th or 5th year players. The only 3rd year guys were Onwenu, Ruiz, Biadasz, and Jackson. Rashawn Slater was the only sophomore.

            I expect to see all 5 play in the NFL.

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