Big 12 News

Dontay Corleone, The ‘Godfather,’ is Coming to the Big 12

They call Cincinnati defensive lineman Dontay Corleone “The Godfather,” and like the cinematic patriarch, the Bearcats’ redshirt sophomore is big on loyalty.

That’s why the Cincinnati, Ohio, native didn’t flinch when Coach Luke Fickell took the job at Wisconsin and Scott Satterfield came over from Louisville to replace him.

“I’m big on loyalty,” Corleone said. “(Staying) is loyalty to me. I can’t leave my hometown for anything else.”

 

That’s good news for Cincinnati, as Corleone returns as one of the cornerstones of what the Bearcats hope to do defensively in 2023.

After a redshirt in 2021, Corleone exploded on the scene in 2022. He was Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated defensive player and earned Third-Team All-America honors from two different outlets. As a redshirt freshman, he earned two Freshman All-American honors, too.

The nose tackle finished last season with 45 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. His season was cut a bit short by an injury, but he’d already made his mark.

The quick success validated his decision to stay home. Colerain High School is one of Ohio’s top prep programs and Corleone emerged his senior year as a Top 60 player in the state. He joined the Bearcats as they were making their run to the College Football Playoff.

 

After his breakout 2022 season, he had to get used to a new coaching staff. Satterfield took over and brought his defensive coordinator, Bryan Brown with him. The pair have worked together since their days at Appalachian State.

Corleone found a defensive coordinator whose scheme fit his skills and who had an open mind when it came to the game plan.

“Nose guard is probably one of the most important positions in this defense,” Corleone said. “So I have some feedback, or I see something, we can make an adjustment. I can go to him and we can talk about it.”

Satterfield was quickly impressed with Corleone’s leadership and personality, which he called “infectious.”

He also said the 6-foot-2, 318-pound third-year player is as “strong a player as I’ve ever been around.”

“He’s extremely wide, a big body, exactly what you want to be on the inside over the top of a center,” Satterfield said. “He’s right around 325 pounds right now, and that’s lean. He’s trimmed down to get to that point. He’s moving extremely well. He can run with some of our linebackers at that size, which is remarkable.”

 

Cincinnati may be new to the Big 12, but the coaches are obviously watching tape. Corleone was the only Bearcat defender to make the All-Big 12 Preseason Team.

Satterfield described Corleone as a “hungry” player. He’s sliding into a starting role this year, so Corleone said he needs to continue working toward being a three-down player. He likes the scheme he said, admitting that practices feel like they’re “blitzing every play.”

While the coaches may hold Corleone in esteem, the media poll was less so. The Bearcats came in 13th, the lowest of the four new teams to the conference.

If that’s motivation, Corleone isn’t showing it.

“We stay away from it,” Corleone said.

Big 12 offenses wish they could say the same about Corleone once the season begins.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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