Tue, 19 Oct 2021

Jim Wyatt

NASHVILLE - The Titans brought Ola Adeniyi on board to help out on special teams.

He's turned out to be pretty special as a pass rusher.

One week after tallying the team's biggest sack of the season - a near safety of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in overtime that led to the Tennessee's game-winning field goal - Adeniyi showed up again as a pass rusher for the Titans in Sunday's win over the Colts.

Adeniyi tallied 1.5 sacks against Indianapolis - he took down Colts quarterback Carson Wentz in the second quarter, and he was in on a sack with fellow outside linebacker Harold Landry again in the third quarter. If not for a defensive holding call on the Titans, Adeniyi would've had 2.5 sacks in the game, as he had one taken off the board.

After three games, Adeniyi leads the Titans with 2.5 sacks, ahead of defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons (1.5) and Denico (Autry (1.5), and Landry (1.5).

Not bad for a guy who didn't tally a single sack in three seasons with the Steelers while playing limited snaps in the defense.

"When I came here, they told me to create a role for myself, and I feel like that's what I came here to do," Adeniyi said. "They brought me here to play special and that's what I focused on. We had Bud (Dupree) down (Sunday), so I had to step up. It's next man up in the league.

"Coach (Mike) Vrabel even said it today: 'I don't care where you came from, as long as you produce, and you do what you have to do. And that's what guys came out here to do."

Adeniyi, who played in college at Toledo, signed with the Titans in March after playing the previous three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Pittsburgh, Adeniyi played in 32 games, with one start. He tallied 10 tackles, 14 special teams stop and three forced fumbles and zero sacks in his career.

Born in Nigeria, Adeniyi was around six years old when his mother, Esther, traveled to the United States in an effort to create a better life for her two boys. After spending time in the active military in Nigeria, she found work. She ultimately began a career in nursing, in Houston. Ola and his older brother stayed with a family member in Nigeria until their mother could create a stable home for the entire family in the U.S.

A few years later, the boys rejoined her.

Esther was also a disciplinarian who wanted her sons to focus on academics, not athletics.

In fact, Adeniyi wasn't allowed to play football when he was in middle school, or in his early years in high school. It wasn't until his junior year in high school when his mother finally agreed to let him play - as long as he'd sign a contract. The contract stated he must make good grades, clean his room, and do other chores.

"One day at practice, my coach came up to me on the practice field and told me my mom called," Adeniyi recalled. "She told my coach my bed wasn't made. He said, 'You have to go home.' I was like, "Are you serious?" I took my shoulder pads off and ran home, and she was waiting for me at the house. She was going to make me quit the team.

"From that day on, I learned my lesson."

Adeniyi went on to earn a scholarship at Toledo, where he developed into an NFL talent. In 34 games, with 25 starts at Toledo (2015-17), Adeniyi totaled 118 tackles, 28 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed in his career.

Earlier this year, Adeniyi bought his mother a Range Rover SUV, along with a Louis Vuitton bag.

Back in 2019, he bought his mother a new house.

Now, he's paying off big for the Titans.

While playing 29 of the game's 61 defensive snaps on Sunday, Adeniyi was credited with four tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three quarterback hits. He also played 20 snaps on special teams.

He's loving his increased opportunities.

"I'm getting more snaps here - they're giving me a chance to go out there and rush the passer, so I'm going to take full advantage of every rep that I get," Adeniyi said with a smile. "You just have to do your job. Every man, do your job, and we're good. And that's what we did.

"It feels great (to contribute). When everybody is getting production, and working together, it feels great."

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