A highly regarded prep prospect, Onyeali burst onto the scene as a true freshman, leading the team in both tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (6.5) despite starting just five games and recording only 18 tackles overall. For his efforts he was named the then Pac-10's Defensive Freshman of the Year. Onyeali's 2011 campaign, however, fell far short of expectations (11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack), as he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for four games and was ultimately suspended for the bowl game after a heated exchange with coach Dennis Erickson on the sidelines during a team practice. Todd Graham made Onyeali's suspension indefinite upon his hiring and the talented defender wasn't allowed to practice with the team during the spring. Onyeali, who reportedly has earned over a 3.0 GPA in an effort to get back into the good graces of the coaching staff, is expected to rejoin the team this fall at the "devil" linebacker position, a hybrid pass rusher role in ASU's new 3-3-5 scheme.
While certainly shorter than scouts would prefer, Onyeali uses his lack of height to his advantage, slipping past the reach of opposing offensive linemen to wreak havoc off the edge due to his legitimate burst, flexibility and surprising power. The true junior has the talent to rack up impressive numbers in this role but to have any chance at the NFL, he'll have to show greater consistency on and off the field first.--Rob Rang
09/25/2013 - Senior rush specialist Junior Onyeali and Cox are out for the season because of shoulder injuries, Graham said. Freshman linebacker Alani Latu also likely is done because of an ankle injury. Onyeali - the Pac-10's Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2010 - played mostly on third down. His absence could affect ASU's depth. Cox has not played and was expected to redshirt. Latu was one of a few freshmen to play, contributing on special teams. He likely will receive a medical redshirt. - Doug Haller, AZ Central