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Most Crucial Jayhawks 2016: No. 21 - DE Anthony Olobia

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The end of the first week of our summer series brings us to our first defensive veteran, Anthony Olobia.

Although Olobia has played just one season in a KU uniform, he has been in Lawrence for two seasons and is heading into his third after two standout seasons at junior college.

He might not carry with him the same type of familiarity as a four- or even five-year program guy, but he is older and more experienced than many of his peers and is physically mature and in better shape than ever.

His name figures to be called a lot this season and, after a strong spring, he looks to be running with KU's first string defense heading into the summer.

Reminder: This is not a list of the 25 best players on this year's team. That would be much easier to pinpoint and, while still key, would not exactly demonstrate the full value that each player has in regard to the 2016 season.

This is a list of the 25 players who need to have strong seasons in order for the Jayhawks to have a chance to compete.

Tom Keegan and I came up with the list by each making our own list of 25 and then combining the results. We did the same thing for the last two years, but the amount of fresh faces made this list much tougher to put together.

Track the list every weekday at KUsports.com, where we'll unveil the list one-by-one in reverse order. And, in case you miss some, be sure to check the links at the bottom of each entry for an up-to-date look at the list of 25.

Kansas defensive end Anthony Olobia (56) delivers a hit to Oklahoma State running back Raymond Taylor (30) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas defensive end Anthony Olobia (56) delivers a hit to Oklahoma State running back Raymond Taylor (30) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. by Nick Krug

21. Anthony Olobia., Sr. Defensive End

It’s been long enough that some may have forgotten, but Olobia actually was one of those hyped-up Charlie Weis transfer recruits way back in 2014.

Ranked the second best juco defensive end in the country that year, and the 55th best juco prospect overall, Olobia came to KU with a fair amount of hype but saw that die down quickly after an immediate injury cost him the 2014 season.

Looking back, that may have been the best thing that could have happened to him because (a) it allowed him to better acclimate to college and Division I football, and (b) it gave him another year to develop his body in the weight room and learn in the meeting and film rooms.

Although he has yet to become the force that some hoped and expected he might, Olobia is trending toward being a solid rotation-type guy at D-End.

Battling with Damani Mosby — a player with a similar past and path to KU — at KU’s defensive end spots opposite promising sophomore Dorance Armstrong, the opportunity is there for Olobia to become a big part of the KU defense in 2016.

At 6-5, 239, Olobia is long and lean and has some noticeable strength to his style. He’s less of a speed rusher than Mosby and typically uses a variety of moves along with his strength to get to the quarterback.

In 12 games last season, including 4 starts, Olobia finished with 23 tackles, 4 for loss, 1.5 sacks and 2 quarterback hurries. Given his continual growth and development, along with what figures to be even great opportunity, doubling those backfield tackle numbers should not be considered out of reach for Olobia.

With Ben Goodman gone and Armstrong still learning and coming into his own, KU will be counting on the veteran status of Olobia both in terms of leadership at the position and performance on the field.

Top 25 Most Crucial Jayhawks of 2016:

No. 25 - OL Jayson Rhodes

No. 24 - CB Kyle Mayberry

No. 23 - OL Joe Gibson

No. 22 - WR Steven Sims, Jr.

Comments

Dirk Medema 5 years, 5 months ago

Between Mosby, Armstrong, and Olobia, are they exclusively strong side vs. weak side DE's, or are the positions in our D/Big12 interchangeable enough that they could rotate in for one another?

Mosby and Olbia are 2 JC's that I was certainly hoping for more production from. Is it a matter of getting more disruptive production from the DT's to free the edge? As with most of the team, we seem to be trending in the right direction in the middle of the line, so still hopeful.

Are there other DE's that should figure in the mix?

Matt Tait 5 years, 5 months ago

Great questions... Here goes:

  1. I'm pretty sure they're interchangeable and that Bowen tries to make that happen all over the defense for flexibility, versatility and depth reasons. At this point, Mosby and Olobia are playing the same position but whoever winds up second string could easily be that swing guy who spells the starter or Armstrong, whichever needs a breather first.

  2. The lack of solid play inside definitely has been a factor on the D-Line as teams have been able to completely take away KU's edge rushers by leaving guys in the middle locked up one-on-one without worry. That's changing slowly and the more KU develops its DTs the better they'll be off the edge, too.

  3. I've heard plenty of good things about freshman Isaiah Bean and could easily see him playing the kind of role this year that Armstrong played last year. In three years, with Armstrong as a senior and Bean as a junior, those two could be a pretty nice duo. Other than that, keep an eye out for Josh Ehambe, as well. He's a big dude and is slowly starting to figure things out.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 5 months ago

Big thanks Matt.

I'll save my DT questions for the first on the list :-)

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