Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 6, LT Hakeem Adeniji
Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.
It takes a special kind of true freshman offensive lineman to start 12 games at tackle, and that’s exactly what Hakeem Adeniji did for Kansas in his debut season.
The 6-foot-4 blocker from Garland, Texas, solidified himself as the left tackle of the present and future for the Jayhawks in 2016. Aiming to play at around 295 pounds in his upcoming sophomore year, Adeniji might not be as heavy as some of the Big 12’s most notable O-linemen, but he’s sturdy, nimble and a natural at his position.
KU’s O-line coach, Zach Yenser, says Adeniji is the rare kind of lineman who can be shown something once and immediately pick it up.
And as Adeniji described earlier this summer, in an interview with KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk, he also benefits from practicing against Dorance Armstrong Jr., KU’s star defensive end.
“He brings so much that you’re not going to see on a Saturday. Outside of maybe a Jordan Willis from K-State, you’re not gonna find many guys of his caliber in the country,” Adeniji said of Armstrong, a consensus All-Big 12 end as a sophomore and the conference’s Preseason Defensive Big 12 Player of the Year.
“Personally, I love it, because as a competitor I want to be as good as I can be and going against him every day is just fun,” Adeniji added. “I’m always on my heels and I always have to be ready, because he’s going to come at me with something new. We just go back and forth and make each other better.”
Listed at only 265 pounds when he first joined the program just over a year ago, Adeniji takes conditioning and nutrition very seriously to avoid becoming so heavy he can’t move well and pick up his blocks. He said his mother, Semia, always made sure when he and his brother, Moshood (former Air Force O-lineman), were growing up they didn’t eat fast food or things like that. As a result, Hakeem says his body always feels good and that allows him to compete at a high level.
That approach has only developed further this past offseason, with the help of new KU strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin. Adeniji said he and the rest of KU’s offensive linemen are reaping the benefits of their offseason work.
“I think we’ve taken another step as far as our strength and conditioning. Personally, I just feel a lot stronger, a lot more powerful,” Adeniji shared. “Just pure strength is one thing, but your ability to unlock that and use it in certain ways, I mean, that’s one thing Coach Woodfin’s done a real good job of, taking us to the next level.”