Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith would like to see Amani Oruwariye complete his season by going in the first round of the NFL draft, which would be a historic development for the Nittany Lions' program.
No Penn State cornerback has ever been drafted in the first round. Oruwariye, a fifth-year senior, is listed as a first-round pick in some mock drafts after making the All-Big Ten first team. He held a share of the team lead with three interceptions and tied for third in the conference with 15 passes defended.
“Amani had an outstanding season,” Smith said Thursday after the Nittany Lions continued Citrus Bowl preparations by practicing at Celebration High School. “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.”
To see Oruwariye drafted in the first round “would be a blessing for Amani and his family [and] would be a blessing for Penn State,” Smith said.
"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. We’re trying to get the best guys in and develop those guys. Amani would be a huge step for the program.”
Miles Sanders, the leading rusher for the Nittany Lions with 1,223 yards, knows he needs to hold on to the football. He led the team in fumbles (five) and fumbles lost (four) during the 2018 season, turning the ball over once in each of the final two regular-season games against Rutgers and Maryland.
“Every day I come and try to get better at everything,” he said. “The main things are ball security, catching the ball, my vision, seeing what the D-line and linebackers are doing and seeing the whole defense in our game plan for the week. I come to work every day to try to get better.”
As for what he’s doing to hold on to the ball more tightly, Sanders said he works with running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider.