Jim Harbaugh has been known for his creativity as a recruiter for the Michigan Wolverines, and he’s also been aggressive in pursuit of high-ceiling, high potential prospects as preferred walk-ons.
Harbaugh and his assistants have shown a willingness to dig deep and find overlooked high school prospects as contributors, and their program’s latest find may have as much potential as anyone the Michigan program has signed for that role in years.
Michigan Signs Former Cross Country Runner, Current Defensive End From Nigeria as Preferred Walk-On
According to a report from HometownLife.com, Michigan has signed Chibikem Anwunah, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound defensive end, to a preferred walk-on deal with the Wolverines for the 2022-2023 season and beyond.
Anwunah is a senior from Plymouth (MI) Christian Academy.
He participated in his school’s co-op agreement with Lutheran Westland last season, which gave both small schools enough players to field full teams.
A former cross country runner and talented basketball player, Anwunah concentrated on other sports before finding a home in football.
His maturity, leadership skills and willingness to sacrifice for the team by playing multiple positions are among his best attributes.
Originally from Abagana, Nigeria, he spent eighth grade in Africa before settling in the Canton area and committing to this academic and athletic career stateside.
Anwunah has been described as having NFL-caliber size, leadership and strength, as well as a high motor “like J.J. Watt’s” according to the article.
He helped lead one of his two teams, the Westland Lutheran Warriors, to their first league championship in their 37-year history.
Michigan Recruiting Specialist Stumbles Upon Talented Prospect in a Completely Unexpected Way
Despite his size, skills and versatility, no college programs, mostly small schools, returned Lutheran Westland Head Coach Scott Wiemer’s calls on the promising young prospect.
Then, Albert Karschnia, the Wolverines’ preferred walk-on specialist, contacted Wiemer unexpectedly this past December.
He had found out about Anwunah while going through old notes from his time at Central Michigan University.
Karschnia noticed Anwunah’s versatile and impactful senior season during which he finished with 51 tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Anwunah also spent time on special teams as a punt block specialist.
“You won’t find a better individual than this kid,” Wiemer reportedly said after being asked about Anwunah.
While Anwunah had spent most of his life in Michigan, he had been visiting family in Nigeria when he heard Windle’s news of the Wolverines’ offer.
“You’re joking me?” asked Anwunah, who was
eating rice at the time.
“I’m not joking you,” Windle responded. “We’ll talk more when you get back, but the University of Michigan is offering you a preferred walk-on opportunity.”
Anwunah will follow in the steps of another Nigerian player, projected first round pick David Ojabo, who starred as a linebacker with Michigan last season.
He added that he’s aware of Ojabo’s success and called it a “blessing.”
“I’m pretty sure he started in football pretty late, too, and Michigan shaped him into the player that he is. And he’s about to be drafted.”
Michigan and local football fans were excited to hear the news, according to their responses on Twitter.
Welcome to the FAMILY???
— WOLVERINES (@TTDS_CHEATS) February 9, 2022
May the Lord continue to bless and watch over you in your next chapter! Absolutely thrilled for you.
— kristy jewell (@jewell_kristy) February 8, 2022
Baller! Go blue!
— Patrick (@Thruline1970) February 9, 2022