The 2013 season was just what C.J. Olaniyan needed.
Now, the Nittany Lions need more of it.
Losing only DaQuan Jones to graduation along the defensive line, Penn State head coach James Franklin is looking for Olaniyan and Penn State's front four to carry significant responsibility toward the team's overall success for the 2014 season.
"That's another position where I think we have talent and depth and if they can be dominant up front, once again, they're going to be able to impact the passing game by pressuring the quarterback and being able to get off blocks and make plays in the running game," Franklin said. "If you do that, now that allows the linebackers to mature and I feel pretty good about our back end, the secondary."
Finishing sixth on the Nittany Lions' defense with 50 tackles, Olaniyan racked up 11.0 tackles for loss for 64 yards in losses to go along with his team-leading 5.0 sacks. In the process, he made a game-changing interception at Wisconsin and finished the year as an honorable-mention All-Big Ten nod.
Noting how much Franklin's message has resonated this offseason, Olaniyan said that he and his defensive line teammates have been concentrating wholly on being able to fulfill those expectations.
"The d-line, we have high expectations for ourselves, so every time we step out there, we know the future goals that we have and we're trying to make sure that we achieve them each day so that by the time we get to the season it's easier," he said. "So we do our work in house. We know at any given point, our team is going to need us, so we just gotta make sure we're ready."
Part of that readiness has meant an adjustment from former defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. to the new teachings of Sean Spencer.
According to Olaniyan, a fifth-year senior entering his final season of eligibility with the Nittany Lions, though the differences between the two are real, the period of adjustment has been something that has gone smoothly.
"It's different. They have different philosophies, but they're both two great coaches," he said. "We see things through the same set of eyes and that's really what matters, being able to have chemistry, and you and your position coach being able to understand the way you're watching film, critiquing each other and all that type of stuff.
"Some of it is philosophy and some of it is something that we have to learn, because every coach has their own. But for the most part, it wasn't a hard transition."
With that under wraps, all that's left for Olaniyan is to spend every day this summer getting ready for what's ahead, he says.
"Just being able to perfect my craft," he said. "I'm trying to improve on something every day, trying to make sure every time I leave the weight room or the practice field that I'm satisfied with what I did today and being able to build chemistry with my teammates."