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Amani Oruwariye Steps Into Leadership Role For Penn State Football

Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye has never considered himself much of a leader.

In years past, Oruwariye has grown into his role in the Nittany Lions’ secondary while learning under veteran leaders like Grant Haley and Marcus Allen. Now, he’s entered foreign territory during spring practice  in a new leadership role on Brent Pry’s defense.

Amani Oruwariye recorded four interceptions last season, the first of which came during the Nittany Lions’ season-opening game against Akron.

“It’s been new,” Oruwariye said of his role this season. “Even throughout high school, I never had to take on that leadership role, we had other guys that kind of handled that. In the past couple years, we’ve had good leaders. The ball is in my park now to do that. It’s been new, but I’m embracing it.”

The biggest adjustment has been becoming a vocal leader on the field. In years past, the Tampa, FL native has always preferred to lead by example, but he knows that being vocal with his teammates during games and in practices is an important part of being a leader at this level.

No. 21 will likely start at cornerback for Penn State in 2018 alongside veteran John Reid, who missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury. Oruwariye developed plenty of chemistry with last year’s senior class, so he and the rest of Penn State’s new-look secondary have spent the spring developing a similar level of chemistry together.

“For the past couple years, we’ve had that chemistry between me and guys like Marcus Allen, Troy Apke, and Grant [Haley],” he said. “We already knew what to expect, kind of getting that chemistry and cohesion throughout the defense. Nick Scott and Garrett Taylor have played a lot of football for us and John Reid is a special player, so it shouldn’t be that hard.”

Reid has taken Oruwariye under his wing as No. 21 enters his new role as a leader. James Franklin once described Reid as a “football junkie,” and it seems that No. 29’s love for the film room has rubbed off on Penn State’s newest starting corner.

Oruwariye’s highlight of the season was perhaps his interception against Northwestern, when he leaped over a Northwestern receiver to snag his third pick of the year.

“He was giving me advice he’d see on the field,” Oruwariye said. “In film study, he’s a big film guy. That’s something I’ve been working on, watching a lot more film, studying guys, and studying my opponents. He’s shown me stuff on film on the week of a game and shows me the tendencies that he sees, which will help me going forward.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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