Indianapolis — As he finished singing the praises of new Ravens defensive assistant Ryan Osborn, Michigan inside linebacker Joshua Ross caught himself.
“The Ravens definitely got a good addition with Coach ‘Oz,’ for sure,” he said Friday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Then he remembered something and corrected himself: “Analyst ‘Oz.’ ”
Technically, Osborn was an an analyst last season under then-Michigan and new Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, with a focus on the Wolverines’ edge rushers. But a Detroit Free Press story on Osborn’s role in spring workouts noted that he’d been coaching the group, which analysts are prohibited from doing.
Whatever Osborn did at Michigan, it helped. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was a Heisman Trophy finalist after a 14-sack season. Outside linebacker David Ojabo, another All-American and projected first-round pick, had 11 sacks and five forced fumbles.
In announcing Osborn’s hire as a quality-control coach last month, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he “has a proven ability to connect with and motivate players.” Ojabo couldn’t contain his enthusiasm Friday when asked about Osborn’s help.
“He’s the guru, man,” he said. “He’s a hidden guru. He’s the one that really took me under his wing and really broke stuff down bit by bit. He took time out of his day to make sure I understood. He wouldn’t let me leave the room until I understood stuff. He worked through all the frustration. He just kept my head cool, calm. Again, that’s what allowed me to play free and fast. It’s him. He broke it down.”
Ross didn’t work much with Osborn, but their year together in Ann Arbor left him impressed.
“ ‘Oz’ got the juice, I’ll tell you that much,” he said. “You know, [we] couldn’t really talk as much as because of the position that I was in at Michigan. But anytime I had a conversation with him … anytime I heard him talk game, I felt his passion. He knew what he was talking about. He was a great, great leader. He has a great, great mind. He’s very, very smart.”