The Wolverine

January 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JANUARY 2024 ❱ THE WOLVERINE 59 ❱ WHERE ARE THEY NOW? schools, to make college an experience while using football as a vehicle, and get it done wholesale or for free, that's my driving force. That's what I believe I was put here to do." Oden achieved a dream when he was able to be part of a state title this year, a 33-27 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian. "I've been dreaming of finishing the last game of the season [at Ford Field], and practicing on Thanksgiving Day, so I was a bit overwhelmed," he said. "Not even with the players on the field, as much as looking at the faces in the crowd and seeing kids who I coached 20 years ago and flew back home to be a part of this weekend with me. All of those guys are a part of our process. To know that everyone is watching on TV, and the first caller I get is a FaceTime from [Michigan alum] Brandon Graham, who simply says, 'I didn't think you were going to answer. I just wanted to be a part of the celebration. Pass the camera around, I want to see how excited the guys are.' He wanted to be a part of the moment with us. So, that was an over- whelming feeling." Part of that overwhelming feeling has to do with helping helm a champion with his son at his side. "That was the greatest experience as a father, with the exceptions being the birth of him and my daughter," Oden said. "To finish this thing at the optimal level with him, I can say that I couldn't have gotten it done without him. In my 23 years of coaching, I can say that I never won a state title until my son helped me. I've coached some players, no knocking those guys, but [ Jacob] to l d m e , ' We 're going to leave this place and make sure everyone remem- bers our names.' It was a tremendous experience, some- thing I'll cherish." Jacob Oden, who committed to Michi- gan on Feb. 2, 2023, has thrived under his father's tutelage. The mentality and the makeup are there to keep growing and coming into his own. "It feels amazing to know that he's a student of the game," Rod Oden said. "He's a historian. He studies football and wants to be known among the greats. I was like, 'Those guys didn't just talk that talk. They demonstrated it. They went out there every day and dominated.' So, watching him work and work and work, he always made a point to make it not because he's Coach Oden's son, but to make a name for himself. That's been his driving force." Moving forward, the Odens will be able to share the bond of donning the Maize and Blue. Jacob's experience will be different than the one Rod had, and the father's wish is that no mat- ter what happens, his son will not only thrive as a player, but as a man. "I hope he has a well-rounded experi- ence," Oden said. "Football is what he does and not who he is. I hope the next four years, he finds his niche to figure out what he wants to do. He has ideas, and I told him I switched majors three times while I was an undergraduate. Figure out what you want to do and where you want to drive that passion. When the window closes on football, I want you to have a well-rounded education to fall back on. "My expectations are for him to get up there and achieve at a high level in the classroom and compete his ass off and hopefully play as a freshman. He wants to be a contributor early and doesn't care where. If it's nickel, corner or safety, he doesn't care. His goal is to add value to this team yearly. It's not to go up there and redshirt. If that happens, it happens. "I expect my reports coming back from the coaches and them telling me, 'He's killing it up here, Coach. He's first to arrive, last to leave, knocking the aca- demics out.' He knows what the expecta- tions are." ❑ ❱ The Rod Oden File Michigan Accomplishments: Walk-on in 1994-95 … Graduated with a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology and a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education with a concentration in English … earned his master's degree from Marygrove College. Professional Accomplishments: English teacher for 18 years – 12 at Detroit Crockett, six at East Eng- lish Village Prep … Current assistant principal and football coach at Harper Woods (Mich.) High … Led his team to the MHSAA Division 4 football state championship this past fall. Favorite Spot On Campus: "You have to get a burger from Blimpies and you have to go to Mr. Spots. Most of the spots on campus are food places where we had good fun and fellowship where you can mix and mingle with regular students." Family: Latawn (wife), Jacob (son) and Trinity (daughter). Oden (left) coached his son, Jacob (right), a four-star safety and 2024 U-M commit who will enroll at his father's alma mater in January. PHOTO BY ZACH LIBBY ❱ Rod Oden "I never measure myself by wins or losses, it's how I impact the lives of young men. … That's what I be- lieve I was put here to do."

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