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Uche was a little bit of a surprising pull for the Wolverines out of Miami (FL) Columbus. With offers from SEC powerhouses Alabama, Auburn, and Florida, along with Miami, his plan to come north was a little out of the ordinary. He finished the cycle as a 3-star, the #43 weakside end, and #707 overall. I initially gave him a TTB Rating of 80 (LINK) before bumping that up to an 82 (LINK).
Hit the jump for more.
Uche played sparingly as a freshman, seeing action in just four games, presumably to preserve his redshirt. He managed 3 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 quarterback hurry in limited time during the first month of the season. Playing as a backup SAM linebacker to Noah Furbush in 2017, Uche saw action in ten games but managed just 3 tackles and 1 sack. His role started to expand in 2018 as a pass rush specialist and he put up some ridiculous numbers for such limited time. On just 15 total tackles, he made 8 tackles for loss and led the team with 7 sacks. His continuous bulking up (from 217 as a freshman to 250 by 2019) led to a full-time defensive role as an outside linebacker/defensive end. He made 35 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 pass breakups, and 8 quarterback hurries, and he was one of the most efficient pass rushers in the country.
56 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 3 pass breakups
Michigan’s Defensive Player of the Year (2019)
All-Big Ten (2nd team coaches, 2019; 3rd team media, 2019; Honorable Mention, 2018)
It’s hard not to believe that Uche was somehow under-utilized during his time at Michigan. He was on campus for four years and somehow only started nine games. It’s rare that such an obviously talented player – one with NFL capabilities – starts for such a short span. On the other hand, Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown is one of the best in the business, so how much more could one expect from a unit? Playing Uche more wasn’t going to beat Ohio State. He led the team in sacks each of the past two seasons, even though most past sack leaders – LaMarr Woodley, Brandon Graham, etc. – have been full-time players, and Uche wasn’t. Even if the overall numbers weren’t quite there, Uche has to go down as one of the most efficient pass rushers in Michigan history.
I WILL REMEMBER HIM FOR…
…just being a great pass rusher. He had some great plays but I can’t say that he really had a signature move. He did put a cap on the Northwestern game in 2018 during a 20-17 win. Uche put the Wildcats on ice with 2 sacks.
Not to take anything away from that moment, but anytime it was an obvious passing situation, my eyes automatically found Uche to see if or how the opposing team would adjust to try to slow him down.
I might be biased when it comes to Uche and Michigan, but I think he has some excellent potential for the NFL. I don’t necessarily think he’s going to be the next Von Miller and step in to be an immediately dominant player. But I do think there’s a possibility he could be another Yannick Ngakoue, the Jaguars player (for now) that has 37.5 sacks in his first four seasons. Ngakoue is listed at 6’2″ and 246 lbs., while Uche is listed at 6’1″ and 245 lbs. Ngakoue was stronger (26 bench press reps vs. 18 for Uche) but ran a 4.75 forty, which I think Uche would have beaten if his hamstring were healthy enough to run at the Combine. I think Uche might run in the mid-4.6 range. I think Uche will have to play in a 3-4 or be a situational rusher, but I see him as a potential late 2nd round pick.
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