Our Penn State player preview continues today with another look at a defensive lineman.
One position that figures to be a strength for this 2014 Penn State team is defensive end. C.J. Olaniyan was the most consistent player for this unit last season and this season, the rising senior will be the leader of this group. And he’ll have some pretty big expectations, too.
Olaniyan is one of four current players left on the roster who was a member of a very strong 2010 Penn State recruiting class. The Warren, MI native was rated by Rivals as a 4-star recruit and he had offers from the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin and others. Olaniyan was the No. 6 player from the state of Michigan in the 2010 class and he was the No. 14 defensive end in the country for that year.
The 6-3, 244-pound Olaniyan led the Nittany Lions in sacks last year with five and was second on the team in tackles for loss with 11. Due to Deion Barnes‘ various struggles last season, Olaniyan was often the best and most dependable pass rusher that Penn State had last year.
I definitely expect Olaniyan and Barnes to start at defensive end for new defensive line coach Sean Spencer. Olaniyan kind of came out of nowhere last season to put together a solid campaign, so opposing coaches will probably be more prepared for him this season.
Nevertheless, somewhere in the neighborhood of eight sacks, 15 tackles for loss and a few fumble recoveries seem like manageable numbers for Olaniyan in his final campaign in Happy Valley.