PSU DB capping career
No matter where Penn State has traveled the past few years, there’s always been one constant when it comes to opposing teams’ broadcasters, stadium PA folks and press box announcers.
They always butcher Amani Oruwariye’s name.
There’s no doubt, it is a tough name to pronounce — Oh-ru-wah-ree-yay.
But in a few short months, the Penn State senior cornerback is going to hear his name called in the most important setting of his life, and it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll get it right.
Oruwariye is considered a very good NFL draft prospect, projected as high as an early- to mid-second round pick. The fifth-year senior is rated as the sixth-best cornerback available by Draft Tek following a highly productive PSU career.
He’s already accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl and can enhance his stock further with a strong showing there and/or the NFL combine.
Asked what his best attributes are that he can show scouts, the confident Oruwariye listed several.
“They’ll just see I’m a guy that invests a lot in the game, that studies film, is a smart player, is going to know what the receiver’s going to do before he does it just based off film study,” he said. “I’m going to be physical, a long, press corner that’s going to get the job done.”
Oruwariye was a consensus first-team all-Big Ten pick this year and was selected by Penn State’s coaches as the co-MVP on defense, along with end Shareef Miller.
“Amani had an outstanding season,” cornerbacks coach Terry Smith told reporters at Citrus Bowl practice Thursday in Orlando. “I thought he was well-deserving to be first-team all-Big Ten. Obviously, he helped his draft stock. Coming into the season, they were saying he was probably a late-round draft pick. I would imagine he’s moved up. Some people have him going late in the first round or as late as the third round.
“He’s had a great season. He’s been a great leader, a great teammate in the locker room, he’s been a great guy for our room as cornerbacks. He’s worked really hard, and he’s reaping the rewards of that hard work.”
Smith then was asked what it would mean to both the player and program to have Oruwariye picked early in the draft.
“We haven’t had a first-rounder. God willing, obviously it would be a blessing for Amani and his family,” Smith said. “It would be a blessing for us as Penn State.
“We’re trying to build DB nation here. We’ve got seven or eight guys in the league right now that we’ve coached over the last five years. This thing is growing and growing fast. We’re trying to get the best guys in and develop those guys. Amani would be a huge step for the program.”
Oruwariye said he does watch NFL film and tries to envision himself playing at that level.
What does he look for?
“When I watch NFL tape, I’m always watching the top receiver on the other team to see how the corner’s going against him, see what kind of releases he’s giving him, what kind of, just everything,” Oruwariye said earlier this month. “Watching the defensive scheme, watching how physical they are, I just love watching that and trying to implement it in my game.”
Oruwariye has been PSU’s best lockdown corner the past couple of years, and the 6-foot-1, 203-pounder loves that challenge.
“I thrive on that,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a game, and you want to test yourself. You won’t get better if you keep staying the same and not challenging yourself, so I love going against whoever’s top receiver and giving them a long day.”
To be able to do that comes down to more than just physical skills.
It’s as much about confidence as anything else.
“You could have all the ability, all the talent, but you’ve got to believe in yourself,” Oruwariye said. “Especially at corner. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s going to be a long road for you.
“I’ve grown to trust myself, trust my technique and trust my training and my coaches, and it’s paid off. … Since my freshman year I’ve just grown in confidence, learned how to watch film better, learned how to trust my training and my technique, learned the system better. I just think overall I’ve grown as a player and grown as a leader on the team.”
Oruwariye is from Tampa, so getting to play in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Tuesday against Kentucky is a homecoming for him.
“Back home, get to get back to my culture of 75 degrees, sunny, palm trees,” he said with a laugh. “And then obviously get a chance for my family and people who haven’t gotten to come up here see me play, so I’m excited for it.”
He’s got this one game left in college, then comes the work of impressing NFL scouts enough so that he does go early in the draft.
“When that time comes, I’m confident,” Oruwariye said. “I believe in myself, I’m going to train hard and work hard, and I’ll be ready for the opportunity.”