In the fifth round of April’s 2023 NFL Draft, Seattle selected Michigan center Olu Oluwatimi with the 154th overall pick. The road to reaching the NFL has featured three stops at Division 1 programs - each a stepping stone in their own right. But the Upper Marlboro, Maryland native has been readjusting to change since his high school days. Oluwatimi's ability to adjust on-the-fly both on and off the field has aided to his success and made him mature quickly.
Oluwatimi's introduction to high school consisted of commuting from the Prince George's County suburb to Archbishop Carroll High in Washington, following the footsteps of his brother and former University of Maryland defensive lineman Oluwaseun.
"My older brother was already at Carroll," said Oluwatimi. "He was playing football and he got there because he played well in youth leagues. Schools were recruiting him, and he eventually went to Carroll. I just kind of followed in his footsteps."
After Olu started on the varsity offensive line as a freshman, the Oluwatimi boys made the move to the renowned Dematha High in Hyattsville. While Oluwaseun would earn All-Conference Honors in his final two seasons as a Stag and serve as team captain, the younger sibling continued to perfect his craft.
"What I learned most at Dematha was competition," said Oluwatimi. "We had a lot of great players, some that ended up making it to the NFL. Just the daily battles."
Despite a productive high school career, Oluwatimi failed to garner heavy recruiting from top programs. In 2017, he committed to the Air Force Academy, before leaving a year later for the University of Virginia.
"Each time I transferred," said Oluwatimi. "I felt like I transferred out of necessity. When I left the Air Force Academy, it just wasn't the right spot for me. I kind of committed there reluctantly, committed after signing day, because it was my best opportunity being lightly recruited. I got to Virginia and walked on, but I was able to ascend because of my work ethic and belief in myself knowing that I work hard and I could learn the system and compete my butt off."
After earning All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2019, Oluwatimi quickly progressed into one of the conference's premiere linemen. In three seasons at Virginia, Oluwatimi started 32 games, earning Second Team All-American honors in 2021.
Oluwatimi would be on the move again following the season, transferring to the University of Michigan as a graduate student. As a Wolverine, Oluwatimi took on a bigger role in the offense, calling out blitzes and leading the line. It would be his best move yet, earning Consensus All-American Honors, as well as taking home the Outland and Rimington Trophies. But it was a season marred with tragedy, as Oluwatimi battled with the loss of former Virginia teammates Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry after they were killed last November following a class trip. Following the murders, Oluwatimi discussed the situation with team reporters before returning to the field.
"It was a rough week," said Oluwatimi. "To see them gone so soon, it was definitely rough, and I wasn't around with the team when all that happened, so that was hard not being there with my guys. The team ended up going to three funerals within two weeks, so all the mourning and tears and the family members that have to deal with the loss, it hits home. It's tough. But they're in heaven. They're proud of their teammates. They're proud of me. We've got some angels up in heaven."
Off the field, Oluwatimi's personality truly comes out when he can unwind over a card game.
"I love to play cards," said Oluwatimi. "Spades would be number one, poker would be number two, and then there's this game called euchre that I learned at Michigan. It's a Midwest game, but I'll play almost any card game. The ones that don't take much skill, that you're just kicking back with your boys hanging out."
In May, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll discussed what he's seen so far in limited action from Oluwatimi as he begins the process of competing with free-agent addition Evan Brown and Joey Hunt for the starting job.
"It's too early to really say anything about the competition of it. But Olu looked really good. He did really well. There's no question that he can handle it. He's physically fit to do it and smarts-wise, no problems. It's just going to be a battle and we'll see what happens, and we'll just take our time, there's no rush on that one. He's getting a ton of work as is Joey (Hunt). We've got a good rotation going with him. He's played with the ones in and out to make sure that we see that. So we'll just play it out. But I'm really encouraged by what he's brought to us."
Now, Oluwatimi eyes an opportunity to make his presence felt throughout the offseason and possibly earn his way into the starting lineup. If history is any indication of his ability to ascend through all circumstances, Oluwatimi's future will only get brighter. Only time—and competition in training camp—will tell who opens the season as Seattle's staring center, but by adding Brown in free agency and Oluwatimi in the draft, the Seahawks are excited about the potential at that spot.
"It's going to be a great spot to watch, it really will," Carroll said. "Evan has come in here and commanded the leadership. He has more experience than Olu's got. We'll see how that all works out. Joey is an experienced football player too, so we have a really good spot. Just going to let it happen and see what happens, see how it goes. We're not going to set any timelines or anything like that. It'll work itself out, but Olu's done really nice. He's done a nice job jumping in. He's a really bright kid, and it shows up, and he gets it, and he's confident. You could see him playing."
Take a look at photos of center Olusegun Oluwatimi during his time at Michigan. Oluwatimi was selected by the Seahawks with the 154th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.