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Cal Football

Can Moses Lead the Golden Bears out of the PAC-12 Wilderness?

April 14, 2022

Freshmen rarely make an impact on a Power-5 Conference football team, and if they do, they are usually redshirt freshmen (a.k.a. “sophomores”).

Femi Moses Oladejo is one of those exceptions that prove the rule. Oladejo, a true freshman in 2021, played in nine games for the Golden Bears at inside linebacker last season, notching his first start against the Oregon State Beavers. He was one of only eight true freshmen to play for Cal last season, and one of just four to make a start for the Golden Bears.

In that Oregon State start, Oldejo registered a career-high seven tackles; he followed it up with a pair of tackles for losses against USC in the season finale. In all, he tallied 36 tackles and a pair of quarterback hurries, and he led all Cal freshmen in tackles last year.

Oladejo, out of Elk Grove, California Cosumnes Oaks High School, was a popular young man during recruitment season. Playing for an 8-4 squad that went to the semi-final of the Sac-Joaquin Section CIF, he recorded 124 tackles, 18 for losses, in the 23 games he played as a sophomore and junior. His senior season was lost to COVID-19.  Oladejo eventually picked Cal to continue his education, but he was offered by no less than 17 schools, including PAC-12 rivals Arizona and Colorado, as well as UC Davis, Sacramento State, Kansas, San Diego State and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Oladejo met via Zoom with a contingent of media earlier this week, and it became clear at the next practice that he is different from most teenagers who are playing college football, as he greeted each media member by name when seeing them in person. Trust me when I tell you, most athletes are so single-minded they don’t always remember their own names, let alone strangers they have only met over a screen.

At 6’3”, 250 pounds, Oladejo is quite the physical specimen, but even a short conversation shows that there’s a lot more to this young man than meets the eye.

“The goal for this year is to be more confident and more fluent (with the playbook). I (will) have a full spring of football. I have a better feel for the playbook now, so I can just go play fast where I don’t have to think,” he said during a media availability this week.

Asked how he hopes to improve this season, Oladejo said, “I plan on reading my keys faster, staying low and getting better at striking my blockers.” It’s clear just from a couple of sentences that he has absorbed a lot of football knowledge, and that he carefully chooses his words with precision, speaking in a manner that belies his youth.

When asked what he expects of the defensive unit this year, he did not hesitate. “We expect to be a PAC-12 Championship Team. That’s what we are working towards, and we just want to keep stacking days and become a better defense every day.”  Words to warm the heart of any Old Blue.

Asked about physical growth over the offseason (according to Cal’s website, he’s playing 10 pounds heavier this season than last), Oladejo said, “I’m just three, four pounds heavier, but I’m definitely stronger. I want to be stronger, but I want to stay quick and fast.”

Head Coach Justin Wilcox speaks glowingly of Oladejo, saying he takes the sport seriously and has a football player’s mindset. Oladejo, an immigrant from Nigeria, couldn’t really say when he developed those habits, but did say, “I think it’s just my competitive mindset; I want to be the best at whatever I do.” Wilcox noted that the attitude extends off the field, also.

Leadership is an ingrained trait in Oladejo. “Leadership is something in everything in life for me. If I see something wrong, I’m going to correct it; even if it is right, I’m going to say we can do it better. I’ve been this way since I was a little kid.”

Surprisingly, when asked for an example, Oladejo jumped to another sport – basketball.  “On defense, I was always a leader, starting at age 10 when I played for an AAU team (the Predators) run by my uncle.”

Asked about the depth at inside linebacker, with the addition of transfer Jackson Sirmon, he said, “everyone in that room can play football. It’s a great group to compete with, to grow with and to learn from. Everyone in that room is connected – there’s no envy in there. It’s a great room.”

“The first week or two that I was in the weight room with Jackson (Sirmon), I could see he was a worker – he worked hard all the time, and that got my attention”

As the conference wound down, Oladejo was asked about having come to Cal with the name Moses Oladejo – certainly a name associated with leadership – and asked about the change to Femi. “My full name is Oluwafemi Moses Oladejo. Growing up, Oluwafemi was everywhere, but nobody could really pronounce it. People in my family call me Moses, they call me Femi. Going into middle school, I said, ‘OK, just call me Moses’. “

“Then, as I started to grow up, I took pride in my name. Oluwafemi means ‘God loves me’ in my native language, so coming into college I wanted to transition to Femi.”

By any name, Oladejo appears to be on the cusp of stardom, and all who know him will be rooting for just that.

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Discussion from...

Can Moses Lead the Golden Bears out of the PAC-12 Wilderness?

3,689 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by grrrah76
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so the article says he wants to go by Femi but the headline goes with Moses? lol
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monol96 said:

so the article says he wants to go by Femi but the headline goes with Moses? lol
He said he's always gone by both and that his family calls him Moses
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How long do you want to ignore this user?
Passover story or just interesting timing????
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