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Jayson Ademilola joins brother in return to Notre Dame in 2022, burgeoning Irish DL depth and experience

Cincinnati v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 02: Jayson Ademilola #57 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish pursues Desmond Ridder #9 of the Cincinnati Bearcats during the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 2, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

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Two days after Notre Dame welcomed good news from one Ademilola twin, it welcomes more good news from the other. Defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola followed his brother Justin’s return announcement on Wednesday with his own on Friday morning.

Jayson is able to return only because of the pandemic universal eligibility waiver, since he has played in at least eight games in every year of his career already. He joins safety Houston Griffith and offensive lineman Josh Lugg in using those additional years in 2022. To date, Ademilola has played in 44 career games.

(He will not threaten Kurt Hinish’s Notre Dame record of appearing in 61 career games. Ademilola would need to play in four games in 2022, suffer a season-ending injury, receive an appeal to return in 2023, and then lead the Irish to the College Football Playoff championship game in order to break Hinish’s record. Griffith and Lugg, however, could break Hinish’s mark if they simply play in 13 games next year.)

Ademilola’s return for a fifth year will give the Irish ample depth on the interior of its defensive line in 2022. He led the Irish in total quarterback pressures in 2021 with 43, as well as in quarterback hits with eight and hurries with 30. He finished third on the defense in sacks behind only ends Isaiah Foskey (11) and Justin Ademilola (5).

While Notre Dame still awaits Foskey’s decision — expected this weekend — bringing back the Ademilola twins gives the defensive line both experience and depth entering 2022. In particular, Jayson adds a veteran presence to a defensive tackle rotation that was blossoming as this past season concluded.

He will presumably still start ahead of current sophomore Rylie Mills, but the combination of Mills and freshman Gabriel Rubio behind Ademilola will provide ample interior depth. Alongside them, juniors Howard Cross and Jacob Lacey will have more prominent roles with Hinish’s collegiate career (finally) finished.

To update yesterday’s running tally of notable possible returnees … Entering the final week of the regular season, this reporter scribbled out a list of about a dozen Notre Dame upperclassmen, thinking that if more than half of them returned to South Bend in 2022, that could elevate the roster from quite talented to outright very good and probably make the Irish a top-10 team again. Those thoughts never reached publication because of the whirlwind that followed within 48 hours of Notre Dame winning at Stanford, but those dozen names were, in no particular order …

Receivers Braden Lenzy and Kevin Austin, running back Kyren Williams, offensive linemen Josh Lugg and Jarrett Patterson, safeties DJ Brown and Houston Griffith, linebackers Bo Bauer and Isaiah Pryor, and defensive linemen Justin Ademilola, Jayson Ademiloa and Isaiah Foskey.

To date, five have announced plans to return in 2022, while only two are headed to the NFL.

Some names may be more important (Patterson, Foskey) than others, but the point remains valid.

NFL-bound with eligibility remaining: Safety Kyle Hamilton, running back Kyren Williams, receiver Kevin Austin.Returning after pondering the NFL: Receiver Braden Lenzy, safety Houston Griffith, offensive lineman Josh Lugg, defensive end Justin Ademilola, defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola.Expected to transfer out: Safety Khari Gee, linebacker Shayne Simon, punter Jay Bramblett, linebacker Paul Moala, offensive lineman Quinn Carroll, cornerback Caleb Offord.

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