UNIVERSITY PARK — C.J. Olaniyan isnt the loudest guy. As a matter of fact, the Penn State defensive end is rather soft-spoken.
His performance against Michigan on Saturday night was anything but soft.
Olaniyan finished with eight tackles and was a force all night. He racked up 2 1/2 sacks of Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and stripped Gardner of the ball midway through the second quarter. He added two pass breakups.
His play helped bring grit and snarl to a defense that had been pushed around in two losses previously to UCF and Indiana.
They had four overtime drives. They kicked two field goals. They missed two, defensive coordinator John Butler said. We gave up two (explosive) plays when we were blitzing and other than that I think we controlled the football game.
No Michigan player could control Olaniyan. And while NFL prospect Taylor Lewan, the Wolverines standout offensive tackle, left the game with an injury, Olaniyan victimized the rest of the Michigan offensive line for much of the night.
Great, great athlete. Big, long arms. Hard-worker, defensive end Anthony Zettel said. He was ready to have a big game and he had it. We all trusted him and he trusted us. With a team, to get sacks, you all have to do your job. He went out and he made his plays when he had to make them.
Olaniyan, by the way, is also thinking of a possible NFL future. Hes also got someone elses future to worry about now, too.
In April, Olaniyan became a father. His daughter, Nahla, was born six months ago Sunday. The birth of his daughter has forced him to focus more on what the future may hold.
It does, Olaniyan said. I know its not just about me no more. I have someone I have to provide for.
On Saturday, Olaniyan provided hardship for the Wolverines offense. Along with the rest of the defensive line, Olaniyan and company held the Michigan offense to 149 yards on the ground. It was a stat Butler was impressed by, considering Gardner accounted for 121 of those yards.
Meanwhile, Jordan Lucas and Zettel added interceptions. Mike Hull and Glenn Carson added 10 tackles apiece to lead the defense.
But it was Olaniyan who made a name for himself in front of a homecoming crowd of 107,884.
I would say that, Olaniyan said. Im trying to do my best to improve each practice, each day so I can have more games like this.
Each play, Olaniyan said he thought about his daughter, whos not far away but isnt yet old enough to attend a game.
One day she will be and her dad is hoping shell get to see him on the professional stage.
When she gets more older, and her mom feels comfortable to bring her out, shell come and watch me play, Olaniyan said.