Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Tom Keegan: Hakeem Adeniji growing bigger and better by the minute


The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most passionate fan bases on the planet. But even given that, it would be difficult to find one who watches the team as often and as closely as Kansas left tackle Hakeem Adeniji.

A native of Garland, Texas, Adeniji doesn’t watch his favorite NFL team with the emotion of most Cowboys fanatics. He views with laser focus and to learn lessons he can carry with him.

“He studies (Tyron Smith) the Cowboys’ left tackle,” Kansas offensive line coach Zach Yenser said. “That’s who he wants to be. And he just studies him. He has a desire to be a phenomenal, one of the best. He wants to be the best O-lineman and he lives his life like that.”

Adeniji said he receives cutups of Smith from Yenser. He's as riveted to them as wealthy gamblers are to the the stock-market crawlers on the bottom of their television sets.

“It kind of works out perfectly,” Adeniji said. “I’m a Cowboys fan and he’s the best left tackle in the league. And we kind of play the same, so that’s someone I try to emulate. Our builds, our footwork, the way we play, the way we move kind of fits up.”

A 6-foot-4 sophomore who started all 12 games as a true freshman, switching from right tackle to left tackle in midseason, Adeniji has packed on 25 pounds of muscle, expanding to 290 pounds. Smith, 26, is 6-5, 312.

“Smart, beating people to the spot, physical, just a dominant playing style,” Adeniji said of how Smith plays. “Obviously, he knows what he’s doing. He just makes it look easy, dominating guys with his technique and how he does everything.”

Adeniji initially was bound for Air Force, but his medical waiver was denied because of a cashew allergy and he had to find another school. That’s how Kansas ended up with a student-athlete mature beyond his years.

“Physically, you walk up on Hakeem right now, he just keeps getting bigger, and he’s not fat,” Yenser said. “What makes Hakeem so good and just the type of guy he is — and you can see why he’s an Academy guy — he just has that mentality. He’s a pro. He does everything you ask him to do: how he eats, how he takes care of his body, how he comes up here and watches film.”

Adeniji’s focus on becoming the next Tyron Smith doesn’t keep him from being well-rounded, his position coach said.

“It doesn’t take away from what he does on academics,” Yenser said of Adeniji, who majors in management and leadership.

This year’s KU football team has an interesting intangible quality that teams shedding losing ways need in that some of the most talented players are the most mature and most committed to bettering themselves.

Adeniji, Dorance Armstrong Jr. and Daniel Wise, to name a few of the bigger men in the room, all set great examples of what type of men it takes to win in the Big 12. Efficient dedication plus talent equals confidence. They have the right amount of it.

Adeniji aims to be the next Tyron Smith and believes that he can get there.

“Of course,” he said. “I don’t see why not. We’re all human. As long as you have that mindset, as long as you’re willing to sacrifice everything and work for something, you can get it.”

Sacrifices such as?

“Being disciplined,” he said, “whether it’s skipping 30 minutes of watching a movie to watch extra film or saying no to going out to put in extra work. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes.”

He’s willing and he’s convinced he’s able.

“I know what I want to do,” he said. “I know where I want to get. I’ve done it my whole life. And it’s all about sacrificing to get better.”

He knows where that approach led the Cowboys’ left tackle, and didn’t hesitate when asked about Smith’s contract.

“Eight years, $100 million,” Adeniji said with a smile that will become increasingly familiar to KU football fans over the next three seasons.


Humpy Helsel 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Man, these types of guys can really change a losing culture into a winning one, and quickly. Losing is infectious and winning can be, also. A few guys can create a "tipping point," and this dude is one of those types of guys.

Brock Wells 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Our AD Zenger failed miserably with his first football hire but sometimes you get a second chance and he completed a hail-mary play with HCDB.

Jayhawk nation is so lucky to have the 3 young men mentioned in the article and when we go to a bowl game this year and they get this program turned around their names will go down with the greats in KU football history.

Chris DeWeese 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Adeniji still seems a bit small to be a B12 left tackle, but the fact that he's simply that good makes it a moot point. His intelligence and physical ability are top notch. I keep forgetting he's only a sophomore, so he will likely put on more muscle by the time he's a senior. He should have no trouble making an NFL roster when the time comes.

John Fitzgerald 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It's always good to see positive things coming from our OL. We need it this year to have any sort of success.

Dirk Medema 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Adeniji is a perfect example of the current successful recruiting. Coach continued to add players that would help the program even after the signing day vs losing players like the former regime. There are many on the roster that came to the program in a non-NLI way. The difference between spiraling down and becoming competitive again.

Randy Bombardier 11 months, 2 weeks ago

All good positive comments to an inspiring story. Can't wait to see the rest of the story. We have had very, very good players here and there but the overall talent especially in the trenches is very encouraging. I think we can go bowling this year and will get more than one road win in conference play. Now if only i can find a source to watch all the games here in Washington State.

Brian Wilson 11 months, 1 week ago

Please no bowling expectations. If we get 3 wins then we are on track. This team was decimated and it will take at least two more years to build the depth necessary to having a football program. Right now we have 1/2 a program. Once our first year of having 85 schollies on the team, having your first full recruiting class graduate, and then signing 20 plus more for the next year only then can you really expect anything. Our first two years we didn't have that. So we won't be there for 3 more years. IMO, Beatty is untouchable until after 2020. Everyone should shut up and stop complaining or having high expectations until then.

Randy Bombardier 11 months, 1 week ago

Brian, with all due respect, that is the players expectations and I'm saying I'm behind you, I think you can do it. I know it would be ahead of the curve but so what. Count us blessed. But i definitely agree with the need for patience, regardless of outcome. Turner Gill was never given enough time. It was unjust. Our AD was foolish to let him go, then hire and fire Charlie Weis. How imcompetent. Yet, give this team (coaching team) 6-8 years and we can at least get back to a .500 school, which is where we've been for over 100 years of football. Now, let me say this in our ADs defense, all this nonsense about conference realignment was very very frightening and I think it excuses haste. So, all this to say that KU is getting better, will get better, and IS going in the right direction. And that's without boosters paying for ...ah hem, benefits. ( Hugh Freeze?)

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