Scout's Notebook: LB Kenny Onatolu

A longshot few had even heard of entering training camp, former Nebraska-Omaha linebacker Kenny Onatolu earned a spot on the Vikings' 53-man roster with strong play on special teams and on defense.

#55, Kenny Onatolu, OLB
(6-2, 225, 4.64-4.86) Nebraska-Omaha

Notes: Born Olayiwola Kendae Onatolu (pronounced On-nuh-toe-loo), 10/8/82, in Chicago, Ill., but spent three years as a child in his parent's home country of Nigeria. Has an identical twin brother, Taiwo, who was his teammate at Nebraska-Omaha and is now a graduate assistant on their football staff. Attended Papillion North (Neb.) High School where he excelled in football and track. Set the school's all-time record for rushing yards in a game with 326 and rushed for 1,500 yards and scored 16 touchdowns his senior year en route to second-team All-State honors. He played in Nebraska Shrine Bowl following his senior campaign. Earned bachelor's degree in communications
at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and aspires to a career in broadcasting in the future. His father is a business professor. He and tight end Jim Kleinsasser (North Dakota) are the only two former Division II players from the North Central Conference on the Vikings roster.

College: Earned Division II All-America honors as a junior and senior by He recorded 324 career tackles, ranking fifth in school history. Was named All-North Central Conference after each of his 4 seasons (2nd-team his sophomore year). He was awarded the team's Outstanding Linebacker award in 2005 and Defensive MVP in 2006.

Pre-Draft: Measured 6015 (6'-1 5/8"), 235 pounds and recorded a 1.62 10-yard dash, 2.79 20-yard dash, 4.72 40-yard dash, 37 ½-inch vertical jump, 10'5" broad jump, 4.57 20-yard shuttle, 7.17 three-cone drill and did 20 reps at 225 pounds during a pre-draft workout on March 6, 2007.

Pro: Unsigned by any NFL team following the 2007 NFL Draft, Onatolu began his pro career in Kenny Onatoluthe Canadian Football League. In 2007, he saw action in 10 games, mainly on special teams, recording 8 defensive tackles and 4 special teams tackles, with one quarterback sack, one pass breakup and one forced fumble. Set career highs in all major statistical categories in 2008 as he registered 60 tackles, 4 tackles-for-loss, 3 PBU, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 sacks in 14 games, with another 8 tackles on special teams.

Onatolu signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings on 12/29/08 after also receiving offers from the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He entered OTAs as a third-stringer on the team's depth chart. He made the team's opening-day 53-man roster after a strong performance throughout training camp and preseason. He finished second on the team in tackles during the 2009 preseason with 12, including 1 tackle-for-loss and 2 fumble recoveries; added 5 tackles on special teams.

Postives: Quick-twitch, agile athlete with good explosiveness and strength for his size. Effective special teams performer who does a nice job on the coverage units. Appears to have a knack for weaving between and avoiding would-be blockers. Hustles and plays with an aggressive, all-out, special teams-type mentality. Showed good instincts and reactions during preseason action and was flying to the ball a lot. Productive open-field tackler who can lay a hit on opponents. Good range in pursuit and gets nice depth on his pass drops. Moves backwards and laterally nicely.

Negatives: Does not have great natural size and is clearly at his best when he can play off the ball and not have to take on blockers. Can be bounced around and might struggle to hold the point of attack at times. Still developing his overall footwork and technique and remains somewhat raw and undeveloped. May take some false steps and get caught out of position at times.

Summary: The Vikings may have found themselves a real nugget in Onatolu, who had a very impressive preseason for the team. He did a nice job on special teams, where he looked like a seasoned veteran, not an inexperienced rookie free agent. On defense, he was around the ball and very active when he got an opportunity to play, clearly earning himself a roster spot.

Kenny Onatolu


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