Moro Ojomo hit the college landscape earlier than most.
Courtesy of a Nigerian education system that allowed him to begin school at the age of three, Ojomo enjoyed a two-year head start over his peers. Thus, he was just 16 years old when he signed with the Texas Longhorns as part of Tom Herman’s 2018 class, and only a few weeks past 17 when he stepped foot on the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the Texas season opener, making him one of the youngest players in all of college football.
Ojomo’s circumstances afforded him an opportunity to focus almost solely on development during that debut season, appearing in just three games in 2018 to maintain his redshirt status. Between then and now, Ojomo’s development has hardly been linear, as he’s seen stints at three different positions along the defensive line and been coached by as many defensive line coaches and defensive coordinators — a situation that could be considered both a blessing and a burden.
“I’m a little bit unique in that situation appearing on the college scene a little bit earlier, so there’s been patience on my side,” Ojomo said. “I’ve developed a lot. I’ve got to play basically three different positions while I’ve been here — nose, tackle, and end, and that’s helped me in everything that I’ve done.”
While in hindsight, Ojomo’s versatility and being utilized accordingly as Texas previously struggled with depth and experience in the trenches was impactful for his future development, his future is now. He’s now just weeks away from his fourth season on the Forty Acres, and with interior talent, depth, and experience no longer an issue for the Longhorns, it was time for things to click.
With a vacancy at three-technique defensive tackle during the spring, they did.
“I have just had a lot of things click right,” Ojomo said. “My body has always been a three-technique body, but due to the maybe lack of depth at the defensive line, we haven’t necessarily put me in my position. We having more depth and then taking advantage of a new coach and a new staff, and I kind of just found sort of a perfect situation for me.”
Quite unlike Ojomo’s first three seasons in Austin, Texas boasts legitimate depth in the trenches to the extent that a potential backup rotation of Alfred Collins and T’Vondre Sweat among reserves who could likely start at plenty of Power Five programs.
“It’s really nice to have the depth and the experience that we have so guys like me and [Keondre] Coburn can sit out and there’s no drop off,” Ojomo said, adding that “Alfred reminds me a little bit of me. He’s kind of a Swiss Army knife-type guy that can play all positions on the defensive line because of his length, his power, and his speed.”
Meanwhile, courtesy of the wealth of talent and depth Texas now enjoys, Ojomo is discovering his comfort as a three-technique defensive tackle, which will allow him to be more of an explosive pass rusher and disrupt the backfield.
“Being in the three technique, I see them and I hit them right away. I can work a lot of stunts,” he said, noting that he feels so much more comfortable in current role as opposed to playing as an edge when there’s more time — and mental processing — before contact.
Ojomo credited first-year defensive line coach Bo Davis, in particular, for this transition and his growth, saying he’ been a great presence for him throughout the months leading up to what should be a breakout season.
“Can’t say enough about [Bo] Davis, can’t say enough about [Torre] Becton, can’t say enough about [Pete Kwiatkowski] just putting us in the right positions to just play football.”
If this offseason is any indication of what’s to come, Ojomo being put in the right position will end positively for Texas, as it did during the spring game when he managed five tackles and three sacks.
The talent to do so has always been there, but when developing a prospect who was just 16 when he arrived on campus, it can take some time. Three years and as many coaches and schemes later, the stars may be aligning for Ojomo to become one.