Not too often a guy likens himself to NFL Hall of Famer John Randle and his sanity isn't immediately questioned. I mean, this is the same John Randle that once practiced pass rush moves on an unsuspecting elderly lady in a grocery store. That's how 2015 Maryland commit Mbi Tanyi introduced himself to me when I asked what player he models his game after.
To be fair, he was referring to Randle's savvy, yet hyperactive style of play. During his recruiting visit to Maryland, he said defensive line coach Chad Wilt told him that he reminded him of the NFL great. "I was watching his tape before the season to see how he plays. I was trying to imitate that. I tried to do the same things that he did," shared Tanyi.
Whether it's a precise imitation or not, he's doing a pretty good job just trying. Like Randle, Tanyi plays every position on the line, from a traditional 3 technique to shade of the center and to a 4-3 end. Tanyi has racked up seven tackles for loss and nearly three tackles per game and, just to show off the stamina, he starts on offense as well. Listed at 6'2.5 and 247 pounds, Tanyi is considered a three-star recruit by the 247Sports Composite, ranking as the 70th-best strong-side defensive end in the country and the 168th-best player in the state of Texas.
His relationships at Maryland were a driving force for his commitment. He explains that "being from the South, I didn't grow up dreaming to go to Maryland. But they started off my recruiting and getting to know coach McCardell, over the past year and a half, we have a real good relationship." On his visit, he built rapport with the other recruits and future teammates. "I got to really know them. I really absorbed the college football atmosphere."
As a self described "savvy" player, Tanyi does the dirty work that usually goes unnoticed to fans and undetected to stat columns. A few times on his highlight film, he drove guards into the backfield, disrupting the path of the runner, occasionally while splitting double teams.
The intensity he brings to the game is characteristic of his upbringing. He'll be joining fellow defensive lineman Ruben Franco and fellow 2015 class member Jameel Cook as some of the only Texans on the roster. "Football...especially high school football is a big deal out here," Tanyi explains. "[It's] a lifestyle down here." To show how big of a deal it is, Tanyi managed to compete with the national average in just about every category at his position. He brings the hard-hitting Texas nature to a defense that ranked 12th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten in run yards allowed.
The soft spoken senior is also an aggressive offensive player. When he's not defeating double teams, he is driving defenders "15-20 yards" off the ball--Michael Oher style. This comes as no shock to him. "During the offseason, I prepare myself to do things like that so it really didn't surprise me too much."
While Tanyi has quite a way to go to live up to the comparison of the seventh all-time leader in sacks, the comparison is not without merit. I asked him since Randle was known for being kind of a looney, what was the craziest thing he did on the field. His response? "In my highlight video[s], I picked somebody up...and they landed on their back." (He also tackled a running back with the offensive guard.)
Yes, suplexing opponents would constitute as crazy. It will also make you pretty damn cool. Welcome to College Park, Tanyi.