Rising DE recruit Adetokunbo Ogundeji mulls future at Notre Dame

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

With a long, lean frame and arms that stretch perpetually skyward, Adetokunbo Ogundeji looks like a basketball player.

Not by accident, either.

“Before I was playing football, I really loved basketball,” Ogundeji said. “I never really thought of football as my No. 1 sport. But once I decided to play it in high school, I really found a passion for it.”

And since he did, Ogundeji’s prowess in his second sport has continued to grow. As a junior at Walled Lake Central (Mich.) high school last season, the 16-year-old defensive end — who started playing football in eighth grade — racked up 66 tackles, eight sacks and 15 pass deflections, earning all-league and all-county honors in the process.

Possessing rare athleticism but minimal experience, Ogundeji has steadily improved as his snaps have piled up.

“From freshman to junior year, I’m always learning something new – something that I can use in the game, not just physically but mentally,” Ogundeji said.

Eventually, colleges began to notice. After de-committing from Western Michigan in May, Ogundeji’s profile has suddenly, rapidly risen, as the 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end has garnered scholarship offers from the likes of California, Rutgers, Oregon and Notre Dame. Ranked as a three-star prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports, Ogundeji first appeared on the Irish’s radar when he participated in a camp in South Bend on June 20.

Less than a week later, he had an offer.

“It’s been exciting,” Ogundeji said of his recent boost in recruitment. “I can only thank God for it. It’s an exciting process.”

Last weekend, that process brought Ogundeji — a longtime Michigan fan — back to Notre Dame for an unofficial visit, one that left a definite impression on the rising senior.

“It’s a beautiful campus,” he said. “You walk around and every single part of the campus has something to it.”

Added Ogundeji: “They want me. (Defensive line) Coach (Keith) Gilmore was talking to me about the defensive end position and how I can fit in at the rush position.”

Ask Ogundeji, or survey his tape, and it’s easy to see what has made the Michigan prep star an intriguing — yet undeniably raw — long-term prospect.

“No. 1, I’m a competitor. I feel like I’m going to compete on every single down, first to fourth, and first quarter to fourth quarter,” Ogundeji said. “That’s just who I am.

“I’m going to play hard and go 100 percent all the time. I feel like I can beat the offensive lineman off the ball. I’m very fast. I use my hands very well, because I do have long arms so I try to take advantage of them.”

Those long arms initially led Ogundeji to the hardwood, but have since helped him explore a different path. The lanky defensive end doesn’t have any more visits scheduled this summer, and said that he plans to sit down with his parents sometime in the next few weeks to discuss his future.

It’s a future that includes not basketball, but football.

And maybe, Notre Dame.

“It is surreal. But I just thank God for these blessings,” Ogundeji said. “I pray every day not just for an offer, but to know that I’m going to go to a great school.”

Adetokunbo Ogundeji earned an offer from Notre Dame last week (photo courtesy Student Sports),