Justin, Jayson Ademilola commit to Notre Dame
They peered out the window during the 11-hour trip back to New Jersey, unable — without some prompting — to tell the voice on the other end of the phone just what state they happened to be in at that moment.
Twins Jayson and Justin Ademilola had no trouble pinpointing on the map where their future lies.
And their simultaneous verbal commitments to Brian Kelly on Sunday had the Irish head football coach seeing double — in a good way.
The pair of premier defensive prospects in the 2018 class — Jayson, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive tackle/nose guard; Justin, a 6-3, 240-pound outside linebacker/rush end — came to their conclusions independently but announced their intentions concurrently on Twitter, a few hours after leaving the ND campus following a visit.
“We didn’t really talk about planning to go to the same college,” Jayson said as the family car made its way through Ohio. “If we both fell in love with the same school, then that’s what would happen. And we both fell in love with the same school.”
Michigan, Georgia, Auburn and close-to-home Rutgers were among the finalists for both. Miami (Fla.), Michigan State, Penn State and Pitt were also on the long list of offers for the twins, whose commitments doubled the size of the ND 2018 class to four members — all four-star prospects.
“They’re two of the top four underclassmen in New Jersey,” CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming assessed of the Ademilolas. “Their dad sent me their film, and when I turned it on, I was really impressed. These are important commitments for Notre Dame in a lot of ways.”
From a quality standpoint. From getting a foothold back in New Jersey. From Kelly’s continuing referendum that getting kids on campus, rather than loading up on satellite camps off it, is the best recruiting formula for Notre Dame.
“I agree with the thought ND doesn’t need to do satellite camps,” Justin said. “Their name means a lot. Notre Dame is Notre Dame, so they don’t need to prove anything. Getting on campus, I felt they were able to evaluate us better. I also got a better sense of the size of campus.
“And although it was summer, there were many programs going on. There were lots of kids. We got to chill with the team. It was fun. It made a difference.”
The two come from the same school that produced ND sophomore quarterback Brandon Wimbush — St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J. And Wimbush did impact their decision.
“I’m super, super close with him,” said Jayson, a sentiment echoed by his brother. “He was my quarterback my freshman year when I was on varsity.
“When he came home about a month ago, we talked. I hung out with him yesterday at Notre Dame. He says he loves it there, and I trust him. He wouldn’t steer me wrong.”
Wimbush is one of six players who have signed with the Irish from New Jersey during the Kelly Era. Four of the other five have been starters during their career — current offensive guard Quenton Nelson and defensive end Andrew Trumbetti, former safety Elijah Shumate and cornerback Bennett Jackson.
The sixth, defensive back Rashad Kinlaw, was dismissed from Notre Dame before he spent a full year on campus.
“New Jersey can and should be an important recruiting area for Notre Dame,” Lemming said. “Most of the best players play for Catholic schools, and there’s a lot of good players in the state.
“(Michigan coach) Jim Harbaugh has been making a lot of noise with all his camps and doing very well in New Jersey. These Ademilola kids are big catches and maybe the start of a resurgence for Notre Dame in New Jersey.”
Both players have room to grow.
“Our whole family’s big,” Jayson said. “My dad (Adedoyin) is 6-6. My brother (Marcus), who’s a wide receiver at Bucknell and 19 years old, is 6-5. By the time I get to Notre Dame, I could be 6-5 and over 300. And Justin’s going to grow, too.”
The Ademilola brothers came to Notre Dame on Friday for an unofficial recruiting visit without an offer in hand. They left with a destiny.
“It was a long, thoughtful process,” Jayson said of his college choice. “I knew weeks ago that I was coming up here this weekend. And I knew if I get this offer, this is the right move for me and I’m going to commit the next day.
“And then the offers came. There’s so many opportunities for us on and off the field, and it sets up a great path for us. And football-wise, I love their scheme. I think we fit in that scheme perfectly.”
The Ademilolas join quarterback Phil Jurkovec and running back Markese Stepp in the 2018 class. The 2017 class, the current recruiting cycle, has 13 commits — and growing.
“It’s a great start for both classes,” Lemming said. “They just have to keep it rolling.”