Senior Send-off: Michigan signee Josh Uche continues lineage of great Columbus football stars
As Columbus alumnus Deon Bush (Class of ’12) prepares for the upcoming NFL Draft, a younger “brother” of Bush’s is preparing himself for his next leap of faith. Columbus senior defensive end and outside linebacker Josh Uche recently signed with the University of Michigan and is en route to being the next Deon Bush. Uche spent three years as an Explorer after transferring from Palmetto High his sophomore year, and made Columbus history that he and those around him are very proud of.
“I decided to come to Columbus because I didn’t feel like Palmetto would give me the best chance at success and I felt like Columbus was the best place to be in Dade County so why not go play with the best,” said Uche. Uche transferred along with lifelong friends and current teammates Jerron Rollins and Nick John, who were all for the switch. In three years at Columbus, the trio witnessed one state final game, two district championships, and countless victories, but Uche holds one memory close to his heart. “My favorite Columbus moment would probably be when we beat Flanagan my junior year to go to states, you know, that was just the best feeling to work so hard and finally be making history, you know, in a sense,” said Uche. The 2014-2015 Explorers football team did something Deon Bush’s squad wasn’t able to achieve, the glory of being one of the two top teams in their division.
A measure of a player’s success can be many things. In Josh Uche’s case, it’s the time he puts in to get bigger, stronger, and faster. “When it comes to working out, everything is just explosion, you know, he’ll usually do like heavy weight and, you know, just explode when we do our workouts,” said teammate Nick John. On the field and in the weight room, Uche’s style is full force. “Josh’s work ethic, I mean, he’s a grinder, I mean, he comes in day in, day out. He’s always willing to work, you know, always pushing himself to his limits, never a kid that I really had to coach his effort, always just came in and gave me his best effort every day,” said Coach Pedro Marti, the Columbus defensive line coach. Coach Marti, who accompanied Uche on his Michigan visit, saw extraordinary talent in Josh the first day he got to work with him. “Even as a young kid, a sophomore, his get-off was the best I’ve seen as a high school coach and just that talent base, I knew the sky was going to be the limit for him.”
With seven tackles for loss and six sacks, Uche was swarmed by teams who wanted their jersey on his back next year. After months of consideration, it was the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who came out on top as Josh’s home for the next two to four years. “I chose Michigan because I felt it would give me the best chance to succeed in life after football,” said Uche. “[Coach Jim Harbaugh] was a very down to earth guy and he kept it real, you know. He didn’t come off as a fake guy that was just trying to get you go over there, you know. He laid everything out and if you wanted to go you would go. He didn’t force anybody to, you know, commit over there or anything.” Harbaugh has been praised as one of the top recruiters in the nation, and by picking up a player like Josh Uche, the praise won’t stop.
Contributors: Jacob Gonzalez-Mir and Alejandro Gonzalez