Michigan's Ronna McDaniel defeats rival in RNC leadership vote

Blue Chip countdown: No. 5 Michael Onwenu

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Michael Onwenu

The Detroit News continues its countdown of the top 15 Blue Chip recruits for 2016 with Michael Onwenu of Detroit Cass Tech at No. 5.

Detroit Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher refers to offensive lineman Michael Onwenu as “Big Mike” for a number of reasons.

Onwenu is 6-foot-3 and 350 pounds, and he’s a big reason Cass Tech’s offense has been successful the last few years, including a Division 1 state championship game appearance this past fall.

Onwenu’s natural position is guard, but he played tackle his senior season while also playing defensive tackle.

“I played guard my junior year, but they wanted me at left tackle since I was the most athletic lineman and knew the schemes,” said Onwenu, who is committed to Michigan. “I played defense all four years too. I like playing defense because you just get the opportunity to be the most disruptive player you can be, while on offense you have to follow the plays and blocking schemes.”

Onwenu got the job done on both sides of the ball.

Big Mike, strong and fast, was named a U.S. Army All-American this season. He was also selected as a Top Final Five Lineman at the prestigious Nike “The Opening” camp.

One of Onwenu’s fondest memories from his productive senior season was Cass Tech’s 16-10 win over Macomb Dakota for a regional championship.

“They had the ball in the final minute and I made a big third-down stop on a running play, followed by an incomplete pass on fourth down to give us the win,” Onwenu said.

Onwenu keeps options open after Harbaugh�s moves

Onwenu said he got a lot stronger the past year.

“We’re always running or working out in Cass Tech’s program and that’s why we’re successful,” Onwenu said. “I was benching 330 my junior year and I’m at 405 now, so I’ve gotten a lot stronger.

Onwenu says he can bench 225 pounds 18-20 times.

Onwenu is looking forward to playing at Michigan, but also went on an official visit to Michigan State  after Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told recruit Rashad Weaver, a defensive end from Florida, that there might not be a spot for him on UM’s roster on National Signing Day.

Onwenu said he wanted to keep his options open after learning of Weaver's situation.

After Cass Tech’s loss to Romeo in the Division 1 state championship game, Onwenu had one more high school game -- the U.S. Army All American Bowl earlier this month in San Antonio.

“It was great to be a part of that game, going up against the cream of the crop, against the best competition,” said Onwenu. “It was also a meaningful game because of the whole Army aspect.”


No. 5 Michael Onwenu, Detroit Cass Tech (Michigan)

No. 6 Desmond Fitzpatrick, Waterford Mott (undecided)

No. 7 Demetric Vance, Detroit Cass Tech (Michigan State)

No. 8 Michael Jordan, Plymouth (Ohio State)

No. 9 Cedrick Lattimore, Detroit East English (Iowa)

No. 10 Trishton Jackson, West Bloomfield (Michigan State)

No. 11 David Reese, Farmington (Florida)

No. 12 Brandon Randle, Battle Creek Central (Michigan State)

No. 13 Josh Jackson, Saline (Virginia Tech)

No. 14 Martell Pettaway, Detroit King (West Virginia)

No. 15 Brad Tanner, Romeo (Western Michigan)