Ajiboye comfortable in starting role

When a true freshman gets the start on a Division I football team, especially one in the Southeastern Conference, either one of two things is true: Either the team he plays for is awful or the young man is special. Olufemi Oladipupu Ajiboye (there's a reason he's simply referred to as Ladi) sat down Tuesday to explain where his Gamecocks stand and how he got promoted to starting defensive tackle.


"It was surprising. I was excited that my first start was against Georgia," said Ajiboye, "I've got to get better though and keep that spot."

In favor of the move for more than just selfish reasons, Ajiboye explained the move as an attempt to get bigger on the line, "The coaches wanted bigger linemen all across the line, so it's good for Nathan Pepper and all of us. I think it was a good decision by Coach Lawing to move (Pepper) to defensive end. He might change it up sometime, but I think it was a good idea."

Whatever the reason was, the defense definitely clicked moreso this past weekend than last. Ajiboye commented about their mentality as a unit and expressed his confidence in the future, "The defense came together. We talked about it. I think it's going to get better as the season goes."

After grabbing three solo tackles against the 11th ranked Georgia Bulldogs last Saturday, Ajiboye earned himself another start this weekend against the South Carolina State Bulldogs. In a historic meeting – the first ever between the two schools – Ajiboye says the team does not suffer from "schedule squinting." Though, the upcoming game should be lopsided, they're doing a good job focusing rather than looking ahead to a trip to Baton-Rouge.

"Right now, I listen to my coaches. I'm just focusing on South Carolina State," says Ajiboye, "It's a little tough not to take a glance ahead, but right now I just listen to coaches and focus on beating State."

Coach Steve Spurrier agreed saying, "Go ask those guys. I bet seventy-five percent of them don't even know who we're playing next week."

He said it with a smile, leaving on-lookers to infer that this is the way he likes it.

There has been no history lesson as of yet regarding the histories of the two in-state schools or the significance to their inaugural meeting. Neither seemingly mattered to Ajiboye or Spurrier though. Keeping with the "it's just another game" mentality, #91 explained, "I'm just enjoying playing for Coach Spurrier, and I love the sport. Right now I'm just playing football."

Ajiboye and teammates are well aware of the great expectations from fellow students around campus after the victory between the hedges. Rather than warn them of forecasting greatness, the players seem to have taken on the challenge. "They all seemed pretty excited. Now they expect big things out of us, so we have to live up to their expectations."

Being a part of the landmark 2007 recruiting class, Ajiboye is happy with their progress. Seemingly though, he viewed them more as a team than a collection of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

"Most of the freshmen are coming along. As a team, though, we're just trying to do the right things. We're all getting playing time so that's good for the freshmen."

He and Clifton Geathers played together at Hargrave Military Academy and wanted to move on together. The 294 pound monster of Nigerian decent is glad he wound up in Columbia rather than Blacksburg, Virginia, where he had originally signed to play with the Virginia Tech Hokies.

"We talked about it after practice one day. He was on the phone with Coach Spurrier Jr., when I walked in the room. I expressed my (growing) dislike for Virginia Tech. We just felt like (USC) was the best spot for us."

After two games and a well earned spot on USC's starting defensive line, it seems Ajiboye made the right decision.


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