It's no surprise Victor Adeyanju was the last person to leave the practice field Tuesday evening – but it was a bit bizarre to se what the 6-4, 275-pound defensive end was doing as the sun set on the practice fields.
With IU Coach Terry Hoeppner looking on, there the fifth-year senior was, 15 yards away from the Jugs machine, doing his best wide receiver imitation. The machine fired football after football in Adeyanju's direction, and nary a one slipped through his finger tips.
It was all in good fun, but you can't blame Adeyanju putting in a little extra work on his pass catching skills after his near-interception last weekend against Wisconsin. Early on, Indiana was in a zone blitz and Wisconsin tailback Brian Calhoun slipped out of the backfield and headed down the sideline. Badger quarterback John Stocco hoisted the throw in Calhoun's direction, but to just about everyone's surprise, there was Adeyanju running stride for stride with the fleet-footed tailback.
"That's not how we would have drawn it up – we wouldn't have really wanted that match-up with Calhoun against big Vic running," joked IU Coach Terry Hoeppner. "It really wasn't fair to Calhoun."
After Stocco released the throw Adeyanju saw Calhoun's head turn toward the ball, and Adeyanju did the same. What he saw was a golden opportunity for a huge play for the Indiana defense, but it was one that slipped through the big man's finger tips and fell to the turf.
"That was the first time in his football career that he's seen a football coming in the air at him," said Hoeppner.
The play brings a smile to Adeyanju's face, along with a little bit or regret.
"I saw the ball in the air, and I swear it seemed like the ball was up in the air for 10 minutes," said Adeyanju. "I was (mad) I didn't get that one."
"We have to work on his ball skills," joked Hoeppner. "He actually jumped too soon – had he jumped on time, he would have had it."
Adeyanju admits that he probably won't be sliding back into the Hoosier secondary anytime soon, but that won't lessen the impact he'll have for the defense in his final season in Bloomington.
His impact is already being felt. Through four games, Adeyanju ranks second on the team in both tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2) while tallying 11 tackles. He's pretty much a lock to eclipse the career-highs that he posted a year ago of 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
People are taking notice, including NFL scouts.
"He's so solid and so consistent, and then at times he'll make a player that you just go, ‘wow,'" said Hoeppner.
Another one of those "wow" plays occurred three weeks ago against Kentucky, when Adeyanju spun on the Wildcat offensive tackle, and was then met by a Wildcat guard. Adeyanju proceeded to go through that line of defense as well and brought down Wildcat quarterback Andre Woodson for a sack.
"He comes on a twist against Kentucky…and he takes the guard and sacks the quarterback with the guard," said Hoeppner. "That doesn't happen very often.
"He has plays like that. He's consistent, consistent, right spot at the right time, and then he'll make a play."
One of the things that's helping Adeyanju make more plays is less time on the field. Unlike in years past, Indiana has enough depth on the defensive line to use a regular rotation. IU has been rotating four defensive tackles and three defensive ends, giving Adeyanju the occasional breather.
"It's amazing, but it's the first time since I've been here that we've had a rotation like this," said Adeyanju. "Usually, once you were in the game, you were in the game all the time. If you got hurt or dinged up, you were probably going to still be in the game regardless."
Now Indiana has Adeyanju, Ishola and junior Kenny Kendal working in regularly at defensive end, while Charles Emerson, Russ Richardson, Greg Brown and Joe Kremer have been seeing plenty of time at the tackle positions.
"The rotation makes the job a little easier," said Adeyanju. "You can be a spectator and see what's going on so you can go in there and react better and help each other out. It's a lot better."
Adeyanju Is Quite The Catch
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