Player Spotlight: Amani Oruwariye
You may not be able to pronounce his name, but when he is on the field, opposing quarterbacks most certainly know who Amani Oruwariye is.
The 6-foot-1 cornerback from Tampa, Florida is currently in his junior season at Penn State and has quickly made an impact on this year’s Nittany Lions defense. Amani has racked up nine total tackles so far this season, as well as three interceptions. His explosive playmaking ability has contributed to his reputation as a skilled defensive back, and it is something that rival quarterbacks do not t take lightly.
The current telecommunications major was a three-star recruit coming out of Gaither High-School. Here he was able to lead his team to 2012 Class 7-A District Championship under head coach Jason Stokes. Originally committed to play under James Franklin at Vanderbilt, he decided to follow coach Franklin to Penn State. He would once again commit on January 30, 2014 to play as a safety, but would spend his true freshman season as a redshirt cornerback.
His first taste of in-game action would come in 2015, where he would ultimately play in 13 games that season. He was one of an impressive 17 redshirt freshmen to play that year. While Oruwariye saw plenty of action during this season, he certainly played the part of a freshman well. He was statistically unimpressive during his first full year of playing time at Penn State, only racking up five total tackles during the season.
However, at the beginning of his sophomore year he began to make his presence felt. In the opening game of the 2016 season, Oruwariye recorded his first interception at Penn State, when he picked off a pass from the Kent State quarterback and he returned in thirty yards for a touchdown. The play was not only huge for Amani, but for the team as a whole, as it marked the first interception returned for a touchdown in two seasons.
Over the course of the rest of the year he would continue to see increased playing time at corner, as opposed to special teams. He ended the season playing in 11 games and finished it off by tying a career-high of seven tackles in the Rose Bowl game against USC.
Now that Oruwariye has solidified his position as the slot cornerback for the Nittany Lions, his playing time and statistics should only improve from here. In the offseason many college football analysts had Amani pegged for a breakout year, and he has yet to disappoint. Halfway through the season Oruwariye has shown himself to be one of the most promising young players on the defense, and has proven himself to be a turnover machine.
His name may be hard to pronounce, and his statistics may not jump off the page at you, but Amari Oruwariye possesses all the attributes needed to become one of the most important pieces in the Penn State secondary for the rest of the season and beyond. He has decent size and length, and incredible ball-hawking ability, but it is his true football instincts that will continue separating Amani from the rest of a very talented Penn State defense.
Jason Marcus is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.