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November 16, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-16
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reply, "See you next week," and he'd
return because he didn't want to be
a liar. He's been going for five years
now, still true to his word, still radi-
ating his light.
Omameh likes to joke that he
"revolutionized the game - the
hospital-visit game." His visits are
different. When he goes with team-
mates, they split into groups and
visit every room on a floor. The kids
always remember Omameh. He
likes to say that his group has never
"There's my man Jalen," he says
to one young boy, giving him a cool
nodz "We go way back."
As Omameh and his teammates
sign autographs for patients inside
a room on the first floor, one young
girl waits outside. Her medical
equipment prevents her from com-

ing in. Omameh greets her outside,
then goes around to each of his
teammates, making sure everyone
pays her a visit. Soon enough, she
has collected each autograph.
Later, a mother walks out of the
room with her daughter, a new face.
"He's funny," the mother says as the
daughter smiles.
They hang on his every word,
about his illustrious tennis career
or about his preference for long
walks on the beach, holding hands.
Smiles and jokes all around. Craig
Roh agrees. That's good, Omameh
says. "Holding hands is difficult
when you're by yourself. At least it
looks awkward."
More giggles.
"Really all I try to do is just try
to make the kids laugh," Omameh
says. "Anything to put a smile on

their face. A lot of the times, par-
ents will be like, 'Oh my god, my son
hasn't smiled in two months. He's
laughing hysterically.'
"I'mlike, 'Cool. That's what I was
tryingto do.'"
Would you believe that
Omameh's words hang in the air
just an instant longer? That when
Omameh talks, the words come out
cool like jazz, low and elegant? Each
word sounds important --yes, never
He speaks effortlessly, like every-
thing he does, but maybe that's
deceiving. The football seemed to
come easyto Omameh, too, from the
calm he inherited from his father,
Patrick Sr., who had lived through a

civil war in Nigeria before emigrat-
ing to the United States. But under-
neath this peace, there's the drive of
Phyllis, his mother.
Don't let the relaxation fool
you. By senior day of his fifth year,
Omameh has started 39 straight
games at guard for Michigan. He
was named to the Allstate AFCA
Good Works Team - given to 11
players in the nation for exemplary
volunteer service - and he stud-
ies sociology and communications,
with a concentration in business
for good measure. But he deadpans,
"Procrastination, it's a lifestyle. It's
so embedded in me now." Sure.
Everything Omameh does is
meticulous. His outfits are put
together with care. His notes in
film study are scrupulous, his fun-
damentals refined. The way he eats,

"I've never seen a more organized
meticulous eater than that young
guy," said Michigan offensive line
coach Darrell Funk.
As a freshman, Omameh weighed
251 pounds. Now, he's 305. He likes
to come early toSchembechler Hall
to study film. And on top of that, he
adds the volunteer work - not just
at Mott - and two majors.
"Sometimes when you see a fast
kid it doesn't look like he's fast
because he's just kind of gliding,"
Jacoby said. "I think his work.ethic
is so much above most kids, espe-
cially lineman-type kids, he just
makes it look like it's easy."
He lives to please others, and
now it's an expectation. As the
middle child, Omameh played the
peacekeeper between his older sis-
ter, Laura, and younger brother,

t's been a bumpy season for
Beset by injuries at run-
ning back and offensive line,
including season-ending injuries
for left tackle Brandon Scherff and
right guard Andrew Donnal, the
Hawkeyes have had a disappoint-
ing season. That includes quarter-
back James Vandenberg, who has
struggled after emerging as one of
the better signal-callers in the con-
ference last season.
But fifth-year senior center
James Ferentz - son of Iowa coach
Kirk Ferentz and brother of first-
year offensive line coach Bryan
Ferentz - has been a steady force
through all the ups and downs.
Back at Big Ten Media Days
in July, the Daily sat down with
Ferentz to discuss having fam-
ily members as coaches, what Van-
denberg brings to the table and his
team's success against Michigan in
recent years.
The Michigan Daily: I'm sure
you've been asked this plenty
of times, but what's it like to be
coached by your dad?
James Ferentz: It's a vety unique
situation. It's something that, I
can't imagine there's too many
other kids (who). get to play for
their dad in college football, let
alone get coached by their brother,
and then coached by their dad on
top of that. It's a very unique situ-
ation. I'm very thankful to be in it,
and I'm just really trying to enjoy
it since it's so unique. I don't think
there's a whole lot of other people
that get to experience this.
TMD: I assume you call him
"coach" and not "dad" when you're
with the team, right?
JF: Oh yeah. Now it's just a little
more confusing since we have two
Coach Ferentzs (laughs).
TMD: Has your dad treated you
like his son, or have you been like
any other player over your time
JF: That was something that he
did a great job of when I first came

Fifth-year senior center James Ferentz is one of five children of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. The entire family has been a long-time fixture in lowa City.

in. He was very hands off, he just
treated me like another guy on
the team. He let me make my own
name. It was up to my to prove to
my teammates that I wasn't here
just because of my last name, and
that I belong.
TMD: Your quarterback is seem-
ingly one of the few true dropback
passers left in the Big Ten. What do
you think of his place in the confer-
ence, which seems to have more
dual-threat guys by the year?
1F: The Big Ten has a great crop
of quarterbacks. You look at every
team, I think everyone has one of
the best quarterbacks. It's hard
to compare them because every-
one has different styles, but I
wouldn't trade James for anybody
else. Every time he's on the field, I

think we have the potential to win
the game. When he also steps on
the field, he makes everyone else
around him better. So we're real-
ly fortunate to have James back
there, and as an offensive line, it
motivates us to keep him upright
and healthy.
TMD: For all he accomplished
and all the numbers he put up last
season, it seems like he's some-
thing of a forgotten man in terms
of getting attention and accolades
and all that. Do you think he's
underappreciated by those outside
JF: Ijust thinkhe's in a tight spot,
because whenyou have players like
Denard Robinson who are so elec-
tric and just phenomenal football
players, maybe another year, dif-

ferent conference, he would be at
the top of the list because he is def-
initely well deserving, but he's just
behind some other extraordinary
football players.
TMD: But you guys certainly
know what he's capable of.
JF: It's no mystery to me or the
guys on the offensive line. I think I
speak for the rest of the team, like
I said, I honestly believe anytime
Vandenberg steps on the field, we
have the potential to win the game.
TMD: Last year's game against
Michigan was certainly a tight-
ly-contested one. What are your
memories of that matchup?
JF: I just remember the last
play of the game, when we bat-
ted it down in the end zone. We
were very fortunate to come out

with the victory. This year obvi-
ously we're going up to Ann Arbor,
and it's going to be a very difficult
game. Coach Hoke's done a great
job with them, and we're ready for
a challenge.
TMD: (Redshirt junior offensive
tackle) Taylor Lewan just men-
tioned how he hasn't beaten Iowa
yet in his four years. How have you
guys been able to have so much
success against Michigan in these
last few years?
JF: I hadn't even thought of it
until you just said it to be honest
with you.
I think it's just how we try and
operate one game at a time, focus
on the game at hand, because the
most important step's the one right
in front of you.

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