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Guided by faith, DT Moro Ojomo following his athletic, educational passions at Texas

A business degree from Texas and a possible football future in the NFL? God certainly has a plan for Moro, it seems.

Ololade Ojomo has built churches from scratch ever since he came to America from Nigeria in 2009. He’s now the senior pastor at Victory House Houston.

Known as “O.J.,” Ojomo has watched his energetic son Moro grow with a focus and maturity “that really strikes me off balance at times.” It’s a passion and drive that has turned Moro Ojomo into a key member of Texas' defensive line.

If everything happens for a reason, then Moro Ojomo is right where he should be with the Longhorns.

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Texas defensive lineman Moro Ojomo had 34 tackles the last two seasons with extended playing time. A permanent home at defensive tackle might be the best fit for his junior season.

“The first thing we look at is God keep my boy safe,” O.J. Ojomo said. “Then, I guess the second thing is you're praying for the success of the team. It doesn’t matter how good one piece of the team is. Everything has got to come together. 

“So right now, we’re praying for the quarterbacks,” the pastor added. “Pray for the right choice. My son likes to win, he wants to win a championship.”

Amen.

“Diligent worker. Really tries to apply the things that we’re asking him to do,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said of Ojomo. If anything, Sarkisian said Ojomo was a little too hesitant during spring practice, almost as if he was second-guessing himself. 

Texas defensive lineman Moro Ojomo prepares to run a drill during the Longhorns' open practice  last week at Royal-Memorial Stadium. “The one thing that he’s showing in fall camp is cutting it loose,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “He’s got that real attacking mentality up front. He’s done a nice job, he really has.”

“The one thing that he’s showing in fall camp is cutting it loose,” Sarkisian said. “He’s got that real attacking mentality up front. He’s done a nice job, he really has.”

Athletes don’t talk about their faith that often. Reporters usually don’t ask about it, either. God and politics, best to leave them alone.

But trust in God, faith, devotion and belief defines Moro Ojomo, a junior who talks and thinks much older than his age. “I’m a pastor’s kid,” he said. “I thank God, just being around the church. It’s influenced my life tremendously. It’s kept me on a straight path.”

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Ojomo’s life story is similar to that of Joseph Ossai, the edge rusher from Nigeria who blossomed at Texas and got drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Ojomo was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and was seven years old when the family moved to the United States. He first landed in California, but Ojomo would end up in the Houston area and enroll at Katy.

Ojomo first tried Pee Wee football. “I’ll never forget the coach saw him and said, ‘There’s something about your son that we should allow him to play football,’” O.J. said.

Texas defensive lineman Moro Ojomo reaches for Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy during their 2019 game in Ames, Iowa. Ojomo will play alongside Keondre Coburn in the middle of a defense that needs run stuffers.

From there, it’s easy to see how quickly things progressed. Ojomo’s body kept growing, along with his agility and curiosity. Once languishing on the third team, Ojomo soon rocketed up the depth chart. He wound up ranked 50th on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55 list in 2017 and was the District 19-6A defensive MVP.

“He would go to the coaches and say, ‘What do I have to do to make the team?’” O.J. Ojomo said. “He was anxious to learn. He started putting hours in the gym. That used to freak me out. Dude, what’s this? School would be over and he’d be out there. He just said, ‘Daddy, I have a plan.’”

Said Moro Ojomo: “I was kind of a late bloomer if you look at my recruiting story.”

O.J. Ojomo still remembers former Texas coach Tom Herman coming to their Katy home to recruit Moro. The whole house was picked up. Of course, the coach wanted to see Moro’s room. “He didn’t clean up his room,” O.J. said. His mother, Bola, an information technology and human resources consultant, may never let him live that down.

Still, Herman convinced Ojomo to bypass Oklahoma and sign with Texas.

Texas defensive lineman Moro Ojomo pressures West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege during their game last season at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Ojomo has played some defensive end as well as some nose guard, but a move to defensive tackle may be the perfect spot for him on the Longhorns' line.

Ojomo’s football story at Texas is similar to that of Ta’Quon Graham. He started out at defensive end and played behind Malcolm Roach. Then he tried some nose guard, but that didn’t feel right, either. At defensive tackle, lined up over a guard, Ojomo may have a perfect fit, just like Graham did as an upperclassman.

“When you look at, I kind of call it this new-age DT,” Ojomo said. “The new-age DT is a guy who’s mobile. They’re not necessarily too tall, but they’re also strong. On the edge, I was a little too heavy. On the nose, I was a little too light.”

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Listed at 6-foot-3, 286 pounds, Ojomo will play alongside Keondre Coburn in the middle of a defense that needs run stuffers. Ojomo has had 34 tackles the last two seasons. It’ll also be interesting to see how he develops under new defensive line coach Bo Davis, a well-respected assistant with lengthy college and NFL experience. 

“Moro, man, crazy pass-rushing skills,” Coburn said on an Orangebloods podcast. “He’s so smart that he’ll tell the blocker what he’s going to do, and the O-line will say, ‘Man, stop doing that.’”

Ojomo is smart, no question. He spent the summer working for a financial asset management firm in Austin. If there’s anything he boasts about, it’s being in the UT McCombs School of Business. 

“I could have never planned out how great the McCombs School would be,” he said.

A business degree from Texas and a possible football future in the NFL? God certainly has a plan for Moro, it seems.

“I would say one of my favorite things about this team,” Ojomo said, “when you look at this team, it’s a bunch of guys that are about to step into a huge role this season.”

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.