Michigan O-linemen Oluwatimi, Hayes put through stress test at Senior Bowl

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — For the next two months, the singular goal of Michigan offensive linemen Olusegun Oluwatimi and Ryan Hayes will be to forge a career in professional football.

Fortunately for them, they have experience running a professional offense.

The Wolverines have lived and died with a pro-style since Jim Harbaugh returned to Michigan nearly a decade ago, and year after year, the school sends prospects to the NFL Draft with a smaller learning curve than a majority of prospects.

Michigan starting center Olusegun Oluwatimi.

“Coach Harbaugh’s scheme, and the way (offensive coordinator Sherrone) Moore calls the game is very pro-style,” Oluwatimi said following the third day of Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala.

“What they teach us in meetings and installs, it just helps us be mentally sharp and have an edge against the rest of these guys.”

What their locked-down roles at the University of Michigan did not prepare them for, however, was a big part of their assignment for this week: Switching positions. Each player took reps at all the different O-line spots, where they achieved varying degrees of success. 

“It’s a good experience for sure. Just playing a different position, gotta get used to it,” Hayes said. “I didn’t play as good as I wanted to this week, but I competed, and that’s all I can do.

“It’s definitely difficult. It’s just like, learning a whole new position and doing it live, thrown out there day one, obviously, I just gotta play better.”

The entire NFL Draft process is designed as one big stress test. Teams of course want to see how guys perform at their best, but it’s equally as important to know how they’ll respond to adversity and curveballs. There’s also an element of hoping to discover an ability where, in some cases, the players themselves don’t know existed.

“I hopped in at guard, did a lot of guard. I thought I showed some good versatility, I thought I did some good things. Had some bad reps; it’s part of it, because I’m going against top the top guys in the country,” said Oluwatimi, who won the Rimmington Award (best center) and Outland Trophy (best interior offensive lineman) this past season.

“I thought I showed that I could be developed into a guard if a team needs me.”

Depending on his outlook at the other interior positions, that could make him an option for the Detroit Lions, who will likely address their offensive interior through the draft in some way.

“You just want to show that you’re willing to do it, that you have an ability to be crafted into a good player at it, so I feel like I showed that this week,” Oluwatimi said.


Twitter: @nolanbianchi