Wichita East product Tobi Osunsanmi is finding success at a new position for K-State

During his first two seasons at Kansas State one could have easily described Tobi Osunsanmi as a utility player for the Wildcats.

First, he made important tackles while playing on special teams. Next, he came up with big stops as a linebacker. Then he showed off his skills at defensive end. He is only a redshirt sophomore, but he has already appeared in 17 games. And he has done a little bit of everything along the way.

But those days may be over. It seems like he he has found a permanent, and more specific, role with the K-State defense this spring.

Coaches have urged the Wichita East product to add weight to his 6-foot-3 frame and to become the best pass-rusher he can possibly be before the 2024 season arrives. So far, so good. He is up to about 245 pounds and he is making an impact on K-State’s defensive line.

“He brings us some juice off the edge,” K-State defensive ends coach Buddy Wyatt said this week, “and he is stronger and more stout against the run than you would think. Tobi has got a chance to be a special pass-rusher. He really does.”

It may have taken the Wildcats a few years to identify that Osunsanmi was best suited to play at defensive end, but they are confident that he has a bright future at his new position.

His unique mixture of athleticism, size and speed give him a high ceiling. So much so that linebackers coach Steve Stanard didn’t put up a fight when head coach Chris Klieman suggested he move to a different spot on the field.

“One thing I love about Coach Klieman is he’s always trying to identify where guys can help us,” Stanard said. “Where is their best place going to be? Toby is at 245 right now and I think his best attribute is his ability to rush off the edge. That’s what he did best in high school. I think that’s the right place for him right now.”

Helping K-State on special teams and learning how to play linebacker have helped Osunsanmi make a smooth transition to the defensive line.

Playing on defensive end is more complicated than just putting pressure on a quarterback. The position requires many other responsibilities, and Osunsanmi has been quick to pick up on them.

“He is still learning the ins and outs of playing defensive end, but I’ve been impressed with Toby’s ability to do other things like play the run,” Wyatt said. “I knew he could rush the quarterback. I’ve been more impressed with his physicality.”

It’s hard to say how much of a role Osunsanmi will have next season given how much veteran talent the Wildcats return on the defensive line. But he is sure to make an impact in some form.

With players like him adding valuable talent and depth to the position, Klieman thinks K-State will be more versatile than he can remember on the defensive line next season.

Adding Osunsanmi to the mix changed the way they look at the that position.

“We have a lot of lot of good athletic guys there,” Klieman said. “We did a little bit of four (defensive linemen) stuff in the bowl game and we’ll continue to to look at some of those things, whether it’s just on third down or something specific to a game plan or to a personnel group.

“But we have some depth there and they are just really explosive guys. That makes us a little bit bigger and a little bit more stout in there.”