Toledo's Olasunkanmi Adeniyi forces Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush to throw the ball away in a game last season. The junior defensive end is a Houston native and worried about his mother during Hurricane Harvey. BLADE PHOTO
On the field, University of Toledo junior defensive end Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is a hulking force at 6-foot-2 and 248 pounds, who intimidates opposing quarterbacks with his size and quickness on a pass rush.
Off the field, Adeniyi is just a big, self-proclaimed momma’s boy.
Adeniyi and his brother Olamide grew up in the Sugar Land area of Houston with their mom Esther, a single mother.
So when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and surrounding areas, Adeniyi’s mind quickly shifted to his mother, a nurse at Kindred Hospital in Houston.
With his brother working at Yale University and with himself in Toledo, Adeniyi wondered if his mother was okay amid all the devastation that Harvey caused.
“Every day it was like, ‘Hopefully she is good, hopefully she is okay,’” Adeniyi said. “Her being a single mother and her being at home by herself with her two kids not in the house to help her or keep her calm, it kind of scared me a little bit. I’m a momma’s boy, so it was kind of like, ‘I can’t lose my mom to this.’ I would talk to her every day and I talked to her before the [Elon] game. She called me. She calmed me down and she just wanted me to go out and play my heart out.”
It turned out that Esther was stranded at the hospital for a few nights as the storm hit.
“She was working and then all this stuff happened,” Adeniyi said. “So they locked down the hospital with the flooding and all that. They didn’t want anybody leaving, so she had to stay and help out. She was sleeping overnight in the hospital and watching TV there and still having to work too.”
As the season opener against Elon rapidly approached, Esther assured her son that she was safe.
“She told me not to worry at all about her and she was good,” Adeniyi said. “She just wanted me to focus on the game, so she didn’t really share any of the details of it.”
Esther has now returned safely to the family home, which Adeniyi said did not have any severe damage.
“She is back at the house,” Adeniyi said. “She cleaned up already. She removed all the carpet a while back, so it made the process easier for her to clean up. She just had to get the water out of the house.”
Adeniyi was a standout player at Richmond Fort Bend Bush High School in Texas. He said after contacting his mom, his next worry was his former coaches and friends. He admitted it was a weird feeling being in Toledo while others were fighting for survival in Houston.
“When I go home, I can’t say I was in that and I experienced that,” Adeniyi said. “If one of my friends talks about it, I can’t be like, ‘Oh yeah I feel you and I feel where you are coming from’. I can’t do that because I wasn’t there to experience it with them. All I want to say is that I could be there emotionally for them and help in that way.”
After seeing images of people helping out and rescuing others in the flood waters, Adeniyi said he is extremely proud of his Texas roots.
“That’s what Houston is all about,” Adeniyi said. “We all love each other and we all look out for each other. That’s Texas spirit. That’s why I always represent Texas wherever I am at.”
With all the thoughts swirling around his head, Adeniyi turned in a good performance against Elon, recording five tackles and one tackle for loss.
While Harvey has now passed through Houston, Adeniyi said he can’t wait to see his mother and his loved ones when they will travel to Toledo for the game against Tulsa on Sept. 16.
“It will be pretty exciting,” Adeniyi said. “Tulsa is in Oklahoma and Oklahoma is close to Texas, so it will be exciting. My coach is coming up, my mom is coming up, my brother is coming up and my uncle is coming up. It’s an exciting time for me, and it will be my birthday.”