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Penn State Provided the 'Perfect Seasoning' for Arnold Ebiketie

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Ebiketie reflects on his breakthrough season with the Lions.

Arnold Ebiketie arrived at Penn State last year with a plan and achieved it. The defensive end brought the same approach to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, where Penn State remains a significant part of that plan.

"The whole program at Penn State is based on the NFL," Ebiketie told reporters Friday during his Combine media session in Indianapolis. "They try to treat us like pros: Be on time, take care of your business. We’re grown men. They try to treat us like it.

"Going to Penn State, some of the things we did there are some of the things we’re going to do in the league as well. I’m well prepared when it comes to going to the next level."

Ebiketie was the transfer star of Penn State's 2021 team, an All-Big Ten defensive end who led the conference in tackles for loss (17) after transferring from Temple. Upon arriving at Penn State, some new teammates joked with him that, "This isn't Temple." But as he said, Ebiketie was ready.

"I had a plan going forward," Ebiketie said. "I knew I had to go in there and kind of earn it. Nothing was going to be given to me. So the plan for me was just to go out there and let my work speak for itself at first and kind of earn my role on the team."

Which he did immediately. Ebiketie made seven tackles (two for losses, including a sack) and blocked a field-goal attempt in Penn State's opening win over Wisconsin, setting a tone he would maintain throughout the season.

Ebiketie finished with 9.5 sacks (third in the Big Ten during the regular season) and led conference linemen with 62 tackles. Penn State's coaching staff voted Ebiketie as the team's outstanding defensive lineman and winner of the Iron Lion Award for commitment to strength and conditioning.

At the Combine, Ebiketie said Penn State's commitment to him paved the path to success.

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"I think the coaching staff that I had — [defensive line coach John Scott], [graduate assistant] Deion Barnes, those guys — they kind of helped me put together some of the pieces that I was missing into my game," Ebiketie said. "And I think once I got that, kind of call it the perfect seasoning. It kind of put everything together. That’s where the production came from."

Ebiketie, whose family moved to the U.S. from Cameroon when he was 13, has been playing organized football since only his sophomore year of high school. He initially received few offers to play in college (Temple being the one he accepted), which Ebiketie attributed to his size.

"My weight — I was around 200 pounds then — is one of the reasons why some of the schools looked past me," Ebiketie said. "Looking back, I’m glad I went through the path that I did. I learned a lot along the way. I’m here now. That’s all that matters."

No one is looking past Ebiketie any longer. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projects Ebiketie as a first-round selection, and Buffalo and Seattle are among the many teams with which Ebiketie has spoken this week. Ebiketie also met with the Philadelphia Eagles while at the Senior Bowl.

Asked whether he reached another level at Penn State, Ebiketie said, "I definitely did. That’s why I talked about the process, the path that I took. Because I learned so much along the way, and all the knowledge that I gained, I can put on display now."

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the SI.com network.