May 18, 2018

Orimolade a Quick Study

Defensive lineman Folarin Orimolade in the rain after practice at rookie camp. Photo by Candice Ward

An Ivy League education is a wonderful foundation for anyone.

The classroom Folarin Orimolade finds himself in at the moment, though, is every bit as exacting, in its own unique way, as those hallowed halls of Dartmouth, established in 1769, one of nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

“There’s a difference between book smart and football smart,’’ cautions Stampeders’ D-line professor Corey Mace (a Mountain West Conference, Wyoming U man himself).

“So far, so good, though. We’ll see as we go along if he asks me any crazy questions.

“Hey, I always get a few from everybody. Some real beauties. Doesn’t matter where they went to school.”

A wink.

“Even some guys from Stanford.”

Day Two of rookie camp under increasingly palpable weather conditions out at McMahon Stadium and the No. 73 in red at defensive end is beginning to fashion himself a comfort level in decidedly unfamiliar surroundings.

“I feel good so far,’’ says Orimolade. “The yard off the ball takes some getting used to. And I’m still a little rusty but it’s coming along.

“The motion hasn’t really been too much of a distraction. I know there are certain times I’ve got to be tighter and certain times I’ve got to be wider. Just got to get used to it.”

Switched to linebacker after being signed as a free agent by the NFL’s L.A. Rams, Orimolade’s resume at Dartmouth – both scholastically and athletically – was impeccable.

His 23.5 sack total over four seasons ranks second all-time with the Big Green. He was selected Ivy League defensive player of the year in 2016 and a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player across Division I.

Already, people hereabouts are envisioning a slightly smaller version of Charleston Hughes, the Stamps’ all-time sack co-leader who was dealt to Saskatchewan in the off-season.

Smile’s almost as wide as No. 39’s, at any rate.

“I mean, I’m just happy to be back playing football,’’ he confesses. “Since I got cut in L.A., I haven’t had the chance. Then being able to pass-rush again – which I did a lot of in college … it’s just a blessing for me to be out here.

“There’s nothing like a strip sack, taking the quarterback down while the ball’s coming out. Man, there’s no feeling to compare. The best. Better than … better than …”

Downing a banana split in one ravenous gulp?

“Oh, way better than a banana split.”

While Orimolade was busy hitting quarterbacks during his spell at Dartmouth, he was also hitting the books, finishing off an economic degree ahead of schedule. No simple task.

“Does that ease my mind about the future? For sure. No way my parents were going to let me leave early,” he says. “Can’t say it was easy but the people at Dartmouth make it easier with the summer terms. Everything’s quarters. I remember I was on five quarters straight at one point, with no break.

“I just did the work, God helped me and I found a way.”

Finding a way. That’s the success-fail quotient in the exam in front of him from now through July 9. There are already a slew of honours students – Cordarro Law, James Vaughters, Ja’Gared Davis, among them – enrolled at the DE position.

Main camp, with all the big boys back and champing at the bit, begins bright and early Sunday, 9 a.m.

Hailing from a place that can claim 79 Rhodes Scholars and 13 Pulitzer Prize winners among its graduates, Orimolade finds himself enrolled in a football school that has produced seven Grey Cups and nine MOP recipients.

“What I like most about him,’’ says Mace, “is that he’s studious, which I guess makes sense considering where he went to school.

“He’s looking to get his assignment, his alignment, right. Get the job done properly.

“Physical tools: He’s got a heckuva get-off, great feet, good hands, his pass rush … let’s just say you like what you see early. But can he do it consistently? That’s what’ll separate him from being a training-camp guy or a guy that’ll stick around for years to come.

“It’s up to him. It’s early. We’ve got a long way to go. When more of the playbook gets in there, maybe his head starts swimming a bit, as usually happens with rookies.

“I expect he’ll make some mistakes, like everybody else.

“What matters is when that happens, does he bounce back or does he bounce backwards?”

Class is most definitely in session.