Toledo defensive end Olasunkanmi Adeniyi got his feet wet a year ago before breaking out early in the 2016 season. BLADE PHOTO
University of Toledo sophomore defensive end Olasunkanmi Adeniyi describes his playing style as a mix between former Rockets standouts Jayrone Elliott and Christian Smith.
“I’m a stand-up defensive end, so I kind of portray myself as like a Jayrone Elliott who used to play here,” Adeniyi said. “He also played stand-up and Christian Smith he also did the same thing I did. Jayrone was a speed guy and Christian Smith was a power guy, so I try put both those together and play like them.”
Adeniyi waited his turn to play for Toledo, seeing little time as a freshman last season behind seniors Trent Voss and Allen Covington. In three games this season, however, the Richmond, Texas, native is wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks with his combination of power and speed.
“In high school I played linebacker and also defensive end, so I played both,” Adeniyi said. “When Toledo recruited me it kind of blended both together to be a stand-up defensive end and also be in a linebacker-type position, so it’s a great fit.”
So far the results have been there for Adeniyi, with 14 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack in three games.
“It’s been fun,” Adeniyi said. “It’s been a great experience for me. Sitting back last year behind Trent Voss, just getting to observe and watch and really just get mental reps, I think it has transitioned to the field now.”
Adeniyi appeared in seven games as a backup last season, recording three tackles. He took the time, however, to take note of the leadership skills of Voss and Covington.
“Trent Voss was a great captain and a great leader,” Adeniyi said. “So was Big Cov, as we called him. He was a great role model for me. He always had his mind on football and was always focused. Being behind them and just watching them and seeing how they played, just kind of motivated me.”
The transition from a player used sparingly as a freshman to someone the team is counting on as a starter and every day player has been made seamlessly so far by Adeniyi.
“He’s matured a lot,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “He’s done a great job in maturing in the sense of taking on the responsibility of being a starter and being an every-down player. He’s tremendously talented, we’ve always known that, but I think he’s grown up in the sense of his work ethic and his attention to detail.”
Adeniyi said playing on the defensive line with guys like senior defensive end John Stepec and senior defensive tackle Treyvon Hester has helped him and his ability to make plays on the field.
“We play hard,” Adeniyi said of the defensive line. “We try to play hard on every play possible. As you can see, John Stepec is in the backfield a lot and so is Treyvon Hester. So we play hard and that’s what we focus on.”
Teammates have noticed the hard work and progress Adeniyi has made from his freshman season last year.
“He’s a lot more focused and a lot more determined,” Hester said. “He wants to make a lot of plays out there and he wants to give it his all. It’s kind of like he grew up quickly, but he grew up. I have a lot of respect for the young guy. He’s making a lot of plays out there and he just has to stay humble and hungry.”
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