Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
Listed measurements: 6-foot-3, 279 pounds.2021-22 year, eligibility: A senior, Ademilola has two seasons of eligibility remaining thanks to the universal pandemic waiver.Depth chart: Ademilola will no longer split the lead role at 3-technique tackle thanks to fifth-year Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa’s move to defensive end this offseason. Ademilola will be backed up/supplemented by sophomore Rylie Mills, but Ademilola now has the primary job to himself.Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American, Ademilola chose Notre Dame instead of Michigan, Alabama and Ohio State, not to mention Georgia. The point being, the No. 13 defensive tackle in the class, per rivals.com, could have gone anywhere he wished.
CAREER TO DATE
Ademilola wasted no time proving capable as a freshman, a needed revelation for the Irish when Tagovailoa-Amosa broke his foot in the first game of the 2018 season. Suddenly, Ademilolla was thrust into a contributing role, which led to him making 19 tackles in 12 games.
That continued to be the case in 2019, forming a duo with Tagovailoa-Amosa and the younger half of the pair seeing a bit more work in passing-specific situations. Taking 238 snaps, Ademilola finished with 25 tackles, including four for loss.
A slight meniscus tear limited him a bit in 2020, taking only 244 snaps in eight games, but Ademilola still finished with 11 tackles including 1.5 for loss, half a sack and four additional quarterback hurries.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
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Ademilola became a complement to Tagovailoa-Amosa in part simply because he was talented, but also because he has an interior pass-rushing ability that Tagovailoa-Amosa lacked, despite his own quickness and innate ability to penetrate into the backfield. To hear Ademilola say it more bluntly …
“I’m a guy who is going to attack the football, go find the football,” he said last month. “I’m a head-hunter, and then when it gets to third down, I’m a pass-rusher. That’s what I do.”
His role will increase, undoubtedly, but Ademilola insisted that will not change much for him or how he prepares. Rather, the biggest difference will be in the scheme brought by new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman.
“This new defense, coach Freeman and [defensive line coach Mike Elston], he wants us to go eat,” Ademilola said. “He wants us to go out there, make plays, have fun with the unit. That’s what the whole defensive scheme is really about. Guys just flying around.
“I feel like this year, this upcoming season, you’re going to see a lot of us getting out there. There’s going to be some changes, but we’re all going to be out there making some plays this year.”
Forecasting a defensive tackle’s stat line is a treacherous task, as a successful defensive tackle often creates more opportunities for linebackers and defensive ends than for himself. That said, aside from broad defensive success, one area to look at to discern Ademilola’s effectiveness in 2021 will be his sack count.
Whether it be by benefiting from group sacks or by getting into the backfield on his own, a starting defensive tackle should make at least a few sacks throughout a season, if not five or six. Given Ademilola’s long-established pass-rush abilities, that latter range would be more fitting.
He may well have a productive season and make only one sack. If Freeman’s defense is successful, Ademilola will have much to do with it, simply via the nature of his position. But a dominant defensive tackle gets to the quarterback, something Ademilola has not yet done, nor necessarily had the ample chance to do.
DOWN THE ROADA fifth season was never expected from a defensive tackle recruited as heavily as Ademilola was, but that may become the case.
If he plays well enough in 2021 to earn a second- or third-round draft grade, Ademilola should head to the NFL. Football lifespans are too short to try to turn that into a first-round grade when a paycheck and a chance to prove himself at the highest level await. But anything lower than the third round and Notre Dame would gladly welcome back an established starting defensive tackle, both for his abilities and the depth his return would create.
There are some 2022 possibilities created only by the universal pandemic eligibility waiver that will be meaningless in South Bend; maybe those players transfer and capitalize elsewhere, but the Irish will not compound their roster construction to exhaust those careers. Ademilola is not one of those players.
Notre Dame will take every snap he can give, but that should not come at the young man’s expense.
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle