The Wolverine

January 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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58 THE WOLVERINE ❱ JANUARY 2024 BY ZACH LIBBY AND ANTHONY BROOME R od Oden will soon get to experience what it is like for a Michigan alum to have his son, class of 2024 safety Ja- cob Oden, suit up for the school that influenced his career. The elder Oden, now the head coach at Harper Woods (Mich.) High School, suited up for two seasons in 1994-95 as a walk-on with the program, providing a much different experience compared to being a scholarship player. Most of his work came in practices, but he was able to have a fly-on-the-wall view of some all-time Michigan greats. "It was way different back then," Oden said. "This was 1994. It had to be on recommendation. My high school coaches had to do a little bit of paper- work once I got to campus as a regular student. They had a regular walk-on tryout. It was mainly the strength and conditioning staff who ran it. From there, you just had to work your way up to getting ready for spring ball. That's what I remember. I had to really get deep into my major at the time, so I didn't have as much time because I was on an academic scholarship. I had to put football down in my sophomore year because I was a dual major. "As a walk-on, I didn't get any game action. But we had a great group of guys. This was the era of the 1997 na- tional championship, so I knew a lot of those guys when they were younger. Tom Brady was a freshman, Charles Woodson was a freshman. Ty Law was a senior. Steve Hutchinson was on that team. Looking back on that team and the great careers these guys had, some of them are Hall of Famers." Oden now has more than two de- cades of coaching experience at the high school level, and he was an English teacher for 18 years, 12 of them spent at Detroit Crockett and six at East Eng- lish Village Prep. The move to Harper Woods, where he is an assistant prin- cipal, came after wanting to get into administration while still wanting to coach. Oden coached Harper Woods to the MHSAA Division 4 state championship this year in his first appearance, but it pales in comparison to being able to be a force for good and getting his players to college. "I never measure myself by wins or losses, it's how I impact the lives of young men," Oden said. "Whether they go to Power Five schools or Division III ❱  WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Coach, Teacher And Now Administrator Rod Oden Hopes For 'Well-Rounded Experience' For His Son, Jacob Oden, who played at Michigan as a walk-on in 1994-95, has two decades of high school teach- ing and coaching experience and is now an assistant principal. As head coach, he led the Harper Woods football team to the Michigan Division 4 state championship in 2023. PHOTO BY ZACH LIBBY

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