From Gaither High School, you can almost see the lights and hear the roar of the crowd at Bucs games if you look down Dale Mabry Highway nine miles south towards Raymond James Stadium.
A former Gaither Cowboy turned Penn State Nittany Lion, wouldn’t mind ending up playing for his hometown team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa native Amani Oruwariye is in Mobile, Ala. this week, hoping not only to impress the contingent of Bucs scouts, but all of the 31 other NFL teams in attendance. Still, to play cornerback in Tampa would be special.
“Yeah, being from Tampa I’ve always watched the Buccaneers growing up,” Oruwariye said. “I watched them when Jon Gruden was with the Buccaneers, watched all the years. I feel like that would be a pretty big dream come true to play for my hometown team, represent my home, but I’d be happy wherever I end up, but that would be pretty cool.”
Oruwariye wasn’t a full-time starter in the stat book until his senior season, but said that was a little misleading.
“I didn’t start on paper until my senior year, but my redshirt junior year I played a significant amount of snaps to the point where I was a starter, basically,” Oruwariye said. “My coach kind of spotted it as I was one of the starters. Grant [Haley] played a lot of nickel and I was that next man at corner, so I don’t really see it as a bad thing at all, I think I’ve played enough snaps in meaningful games and made a lot of plays to where it wouldn’t affect me.”
Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye – Photo by: Getty Images
Oruwariye had a productive career in Happy Valley, playing in 38 games during his four seasons, notching 106 tackles, eight interceptions and one forced fumble. After recording a pick-six as a sophomore against Kent State, Oruwariye notched seven pass breakups and four interceptions as a junior before posting 11 pass breakups, three interceptions and a forced fumble in his final season at Penn State.
Oruwariye has desirable size at 6-foot-2, 204 pounds with 32-inch arms. With a good showing at the Senior Bowl, he could improve his stock from that of a second-rounder to potentially becoming a first-rounder.
Some cornerbacks prefer man coverage while some prefer zone, Oruwariye said he is fine playing either. He just wants to find a job in the NFL.
“We played everything, so I made sure to try to perfect my craft in all forms of the defense,” Oruwariye said. “I feel like I can play zone, I feel like I’m intelligent enough to read routes throughout the zone, to be disciplined. And then I feel like I can match-up with any of the guys in man coverage.”
With veteran cornerback Brent Grimes not expected back in Tampa Bay in 2019, the Bucs most likely will select another cornerback at some point in the draft. Could it be Oruwariye?
When asked if he had an interview with Tampa Bay scouts in Mobile, Oruwariye smiled, unable to hide his poker face.
“Yeah, I met with them.”
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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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