Film Study: How Terry Ayeni Fares at DT

Unlike Rodney Coe, ISU's last JUCO import, Ayeni is technically sound. The adjustment to the interior is the biggest challenge he faces, so the weight gain is a good start. If he can master that, his defensive end fundamentals — he's got the hands of a boxer — might make him a rare pass-rushing weapon at three-tech

The writing's been on the wall for some time, maybe since the Cyclones started recruiting Terry Ayeni since December, but Tuesday was the first sight of anything definitive:

Terry Ayeni will play inside.

Officially?

"Terry Ayeni is already slotted to be an inside guy for us," ISU coach Paul Rhoads said on a teleconference.

By the time ISU got in contact with Ayeni, of New Mexico Military Institute, it had already signed one JUCO defensive end in Gabe Luna and received a verbal commitment from another, Dale Pierson. The Cyclones were looking for a versatile player, with the potential to play end or, if need be, see snaps at three-tech. They had already struck out on true JUCO defensive tackles like Terrell Clinkscales and Tarow Barney and, in scouting Ayeni's teammate Edmond Boateng, saw something they really liked in the 6-foot-2 Ayeni, who was born in Nigeria, moved to Canada when he was eight years old and grew up playing soccer.

Ayeni could grow to be a standout defensive end for the Cyclones, but they sorely need help inside, especially after dismissing Rodney Coe and David Irving this offseason. Ayeni's first football love is rushing the passer — he tallied 7.5 sacks as a sophomore at NMMI — but he knew this would be a possibility, which is why he's spent this offseason beefing up to 275 pounds and staying in contact with defensive tackles coach Shane Burnham.

Measuring the Impact of Rodney Coe's Dismissal ($)

Unlike Coe, ISU's last JUCO import, Ayeni is technically sound (he did, after all, graduate from Central Technical School in Toronto, Ontario). The adjustment to the interior is the biggest challenge he faces, so the weight gain is a good start. If he can master that, his defensive end fundamentals — he's got the hands of a boxer — might make him a rare pass-rushing weapon at three-tech.

For example, we've pulled a screengrab and made a corresponding .gif of Ayeni's hand action last season. See how he keeps distance from his target off the line, rather than ramming immediately into him, and that allows Ayeni the freedom to do whatever he'd like, really. Given the room, he can manufacture the force to bull-rush the left tackle, but here he goes for a nifty swim move.

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  • As goes the life of a defensive tackle, Ayeni will have to become accustomed to making plays below hip-level. He shows the balance to do that here, essentially spinning a circle around and then through the right tackle (who has horrible effort and posture on this play, it should be noted). See how Ayeni makes the move upfield, then plants his right foot and pivots back inside the pocket, following the quarterback, then makes the sack while nearly parallel to the ground.

    AyeniLurch on Make A Gif

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  • We've singled out this play to highlight an area Ayeni could use improvement. His motor is endless — he swats passes and chases down running backs from 10 yards — but isn't a natural quick-twitch rusher. Here, you'd like to see Ayeni "snap" at some point. Instead, he follows the left tackle's momentum, is essentially put on skates (middle shot) and then, only because his upper-body strength is superior to that of his opponent, can Ayeni manage to get to the QB. There's room for a more explosive change-of-direction. And still: Watch as Ayeni finishes the play.

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    For the full, eight-minute highlight, click the below reel.


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