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 Isaac Odim: Scholar Athlete

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UMD Bulldogs Top Running Back Rushes to Success

Isaac Odim is the top running back for the UMD Bulldogs Football team.

Isaac Odim has a unique tattoo on his arm. It's a reminder of the words of wisdom that guide his life: patience, wisdom, love, self-discipline, integrity, faith, trust, forgiveness, and laughter.

Odim has carried these words into his personal, professional, and academic life. They have served him well. Odim graduated with a mechanical engineering major on May 14 and was the undergraduate commencement speaker at the ceremony. In addition, he served as captain of the UMD football team that won two NCAA Div. II national championships, in 2008 and 2010.

Awards and Scholarships

Odim received nearly a dozen awards for his academic and athletic excellence.  He is one of the three NCAA scholar athletes at UMD.

Odim is a three-time Academic All-Conference and Academic All-American athlete. He is among two other athletes in Division II college football to been named Academic All-American of the Year by ESPN Magazine. He is also a Bob Stein College Scholar-Athlete Award-Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation (NFF).

At UMD, he was awarded the BendTec Scholarship and the L. Alden Kendall Alumni Scholarship. He was also named the Outstanding Senior Male Athlete for 2010-11 and became a member of the NFF Honor Society.

Two of the most exciting awards are those that will further his education. He was named the NFF Scholar Athlete, giving him $18,000 toward grad school, and the NCAA Post-Graduate Scholar, giving him $7,500 toward grad school. He has aspirations to play football in the National Football League (NFL) and eventually become a biomedical engineer.


When Odim was looking for colleges, he sought a university with a strong Division II football team and a strong engineering program.

“I just wanted to play,” Odim said.  “I didn’t want to go to a Division I school and sit on the bench until my senior year. I wanted play right away.”

He chose UMD after meeting with the coaches. He liked the team and the academic environment. He entered the mechanical engineering program, because he had been interested in science since he was young.

“I like solving problems. I had a knack for physics and, coming out of high school, I had narrowed it down to engineering or sports medicine,” Odim said. “I ended up going for engineering.”

In graduate school, Odim plans to study biomedical engineering. "It is a combination of sports medicine and engineering,” Odim said. “I still get to work with the human body, but I’m putting my engineering degree and skills to use as well.”

In his time at UMD, Odim forged close connections with faculty members Alison Hoxie and Bryan Booker, assistant professors, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. “They have an enthusiasm for what they are doing, and you can tell they really like what they teach,” Odim said. “It’s makes me enjoy it even more.”

Hoxie and Booker wrote recommendations for Odim for his graduate school applications. He plans on attending Duke University.


Isaac Odim is a scholar athlete from Swenson College of Science and Engineering.

Odim was a running back for UMD for three years, but he's been playing for a lot longer than that. “I’ve been playing football since fourth grade,” Odim said. “If it were up to my dad, I’d be playing soccer. My parents are soccer fans.”

Odim’s experience provided UMD with a great player. He helped the UMD Bulldogs become national champions for Division II football twice.

With all the awards Odim has won, he feels honored to have spent his time at UMD and to have been afforded so many opportunities. He attributes his success to his hard work, but also to the hard work of the Bulldogs coaches.

He said that the main difference between Division I and Division II football is the focus on academics. “In Division II football, the coaches really stress the importance of doing well in the classroom,” Odim said.  “That’s something that I have always appreciated from them.”

The coaches also guided Odim in his professional career as a running back. “The coaches helped me find an agent,” Odim said. “They also sent game film to NFL teams and provided me with places to run and workout.”

This past fall, Odim suffered a knee injury that ended his last season at UMD early. However, he has been working and running drills to get back in shape for NFL teams.

"It’d be a dream to sign with any team," he said. “I just want a chance to prove to teams that they need a good running back.”

However, no matter where Odim's future leads him, he will be a success. “I’m excited to have a chance to play football and to continue my education,” Odim said.

UMD Scholar Athletes

Jocelyne Larocque, women’s hockey, was named the WCHA female scholar athlete of the year. This is awarded to the outstanding senior female scholar athlete in the WCHA.

Isaac Odim (football), Rebecca Anderson (soccer) and Bridget Hines (cross country) were all named NCAA post graduate scholars. This highly competitive award (only 58 are awarded each sport's season for the entire NCAA) carries with it a $7500 scholarship for post-graduate work. The only other school besides UMD this fall with three award winners was Stanford.

Written by Mandee Kuglin

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UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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