Beefing Up His Game

Taking last season to fill out his frame and improve his technique, redshirt freshman James Adeyanju has added 15 pounds of muscle, and is learning moves for his defensive end position that he hopes to give him a leg up this spring.

MADISON - Take one look at redshirt freshman James Adeyanju and one can tell that the defensive end means business heading into the second season at Wisconsin.

Named UW's Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year, Adeyanju has improved the frame and the abilities of the player that totaled 159 tackles, 35 sacks, 53 tackles for loss, nine forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in his career at Curie HS outside Chicago.

Increasing his 6-2 frame up to 250 pounds, Adeyanju is looking to take advantage of redshirt junior David Gilbert missing the first couple weeks of practice, and talked to Badger Nation following a recent practice.

Talk to me about the decision to add 15 pounds of the muscle since arriving on campus. Did you feel you needed to do that in order to be competitive?

Adeyanju: My position coach – coach Charlie Partridge – wanted me to gain some muscle and be around2 50 pounds. My true freshman year when I redshirted, I was around 235 pounds, so he wanted me around 250. Actually him and defensive coordinator Chris Ash wanted me up to that weight, so I just worked with coach Ben Herbert. He weighed us in every week, we lifted hard, I had a good eating plan and just gained the weight week by week.

Walk me through that plan. What did you do in terms of putting on all those good calories?

Adeyanju: Coach Herbert made us make a shake in a morning, kind of like a breakfast shake to gain all the nutrients and put something in your stomach. It's pretty bad if you don't have any breakfast if you are trying to gain the right weight. I'd have a shake after I lift and eat before and after class. That's the main thing.

Through winter conditioning and a couple of practices, can you feel that extra weight and an you feel it benefit you when you go through drills? Do you feel different in a good way when you work?

Adeyanju: Yeah, I can tell that I am heavier and it helps going against the double teams. I know that I have to be strong. During the season last year, I was used to my weight and I could handle double teams. Now that I am heavier, I can get used to that weight with my running and working. It's really helped me going against the tight ends, pushing them in the backfield. That wouldn't have happened last year, as usually just stood them up. I can tell that it's helping me.

So the drive is there for you, but has the speed increased or stayed the same?

Adeyanju: Yes sir. I could feel it during the very first contact practice, so I am excited when we get all the pads on and start scrimmaging.

Have you found out over the past year that playing college football is a huge job and time commitment, maybe more so than it was in high school?

Adeyanju: Oh yeah. It's crazy. The amount of work we do is crazy with meeting, practice and lifting. It's crazy but it's so fun. I am just trying to work my hardest and hopefully get playing time this year because we have so many great defensive ends in front of me. Each day we work, we get better, so I hope I have the chance to play.

Where do you feel you are improving the most through the first few practices? You mentioned your drive is better, but where else do you feel you have taken a good step?

Adeyanju: Definitely in my run defense. I feel like that was a weakness to me last year. I always like being a pass rusher, but I felt that it's getting better. Last year on scout teams we really didn't get a chance to learn the plays, but I feel I am really getting the playbook down with all the extra meetings that we have with our position coach. I am learning a lot better.

How would you define your relationship with coach Partridge?

Adeyanju: We have a real good relationship. He's a real good teacher. We have a good teacher-student relationship and he tells me everything he needs to know on the field. I try to soak up all his knowledge every time we meet together.

How much has your game changed in just one year just in terms of what you know now because of coach Partridge?

Adeyanju: Man if I knew some of the pass rush moves and techniques he's teaching us now back in high school, I would have been 10 times better. I am learning so many things I never would have known. He's helping me a lot.

Where have you grown the most in terms of watching the guys ahead of you, guys like David Gilbert and Brendan Kelly who have preserved through injuries to get on the field?

Adeyanju: I've learned two things. First is work ethic and that it matters in the weight room, it matters in practice, it matters in stations and conditioning. Everything matters. You can't say it's a regular lift day because everything matters. Secondly, I learned that you have to go at every practice hard and you can't save things for the next day. You have to get better because somebody in the country is getting better than you. In high school, you don't always have to go hard every day but here, you have to or somebody is going to pass you.

With so much talent in front of you competing from playing time, you have to go hard every day. Talk about that competition between your group.

Adeyanju: We are competing every day, man. Even though we are competing, we are trying to help each other. Tyler Dippel has been helping me with the plays and cheers for me even though he's ahead of me. We have that camaraderie of cheering for each other. We are trying to get each other better.

What's the big jump you want to make once you guys go into full pads?

Adeyanju: I think the main thing is learn the playbook. Honestly, I don't know it fully. I am starting to learn the ins and outs. If I could learn that, I could do some good things out here because that's the one thing that has hindered me. The mental aspect of it is tough, but I know I need to do it.

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