Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct 9, 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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16 OCT. 9, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL J ayson and Justin Ademilola were curious in a rare moment of defeat. The twin brothers were the big- gest kids on the Jackson Jaguars youth football team in Central New Jer- sey, and unsurprisingly, a chore for fel- low 8-year-olds to block. Except for one teammate, who could hold his own. They wondered why. What did he do that they weren't doing? So they asked. The teammate responded that he wrestled. The same day, the twins made a request to their father, Ade. If wres- tling could help a teammate, they fig- ured it could help them too. "They came home and said, 'Dad, we have to wrestle,'" Ade said. It was an early sign of his sons' insatia- ble hunger to better themselves. A sign of motors that are always running and an obsession with chasing perfection. Those inherent traits have not waned in the years since a youth league prac- tice brought them to light. They sent Jayson and Justin down the path to their current roles as senior defensive line- men at Notre Dame and the consistent impact they have made this season. Jayson, the Irish's starting three- technique tackle, is tied for second na- tionally among interior linemen with 17 quarterback pressures through four games, per Pro Football Focus. He has 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two passes broken up and a forced fumble — he's a bowling ball of disruption. His 19 total tackles are third on the team, a ranking not typical of a defensive tackle. "He's running to the football," head coach Brian Kelly said. "There is no play off for him. That kind of play, for a guy who plays inside, it's unmistakable. You see it." Justin, meanwhile, is the Irish's No. 2 vyper. In defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman's scheme, that means playing on the line of scrimmage and at line- backer. He has pass-rush and coverage responsibilities. After two years as the backup strong- side end, Justin has transitioned into a more agile position with aplomb. He has 13 tackles and two sacks, in addition to 18 snaps in coverage. "He has good spacial awareness that when he does drop, he has a pretty good feel of where he is," Kelly said. "And he has been disruptive. When he drops, he gets underneath the curls." Their roles are different, but their mental wiring is identical. The best way to summarize it? "I want to be elite each and every day I come on the field," Jayson said. "That's my one goal." 'THEY SOUGHT THIS OUT' The twins picked up wrestling as a football cross-training tool and turned it into a second sport through high school. Somehow, they kept it up, even as their list of football demands voluntarily grew. When they decided in middle school to chase college football dreams, they wanted to go all in. That meant playing for a high school that competes in New Jersey's best league. St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City fit the description. One problem, though: It's a 90-minute drive in New Jersey rush hour traffic from the Ademilola's home in Jackson Township. Still, they brought up the idea to Ade. He approved. They would leave before the sunrise to get there on time. On days with football practice, they wouldn't return home until 8 or 9 p.m. "They sought this out for them- selves," Ade said. But simply playing in the North Jer- sey Super Football Conference wasn't enough. The twins wanted to dominate it. Pete Kafaf runs a lineman camp a couple times per week in the offsea- son in Red Bank, about 45 minutes from Jackson and the same distance from St. Peter's. He has trained about 25 fu- ture college players and a few NFL guys, including Indianapolis Colts and former Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. Ben Petrula, now a guard at Boston College and the Ademilolas' St. Peter's team- mate, also was among his clients. The twins learned of Kafaf through Petrula early in their high school ca- reers. They also discovered he worked with Rashan Gary, a New Jersey native who was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2016 class (and now in the NFL). Want to be elite? Train with a coach who has been around other elite players. Shortly after meeting them, Kafaf saw elite upside. Not just because of physi- cal ability, but dedication. "They day I met them, these kids wanted to be great and wanted to know how to be great," Kafaf said. "The motor they have on the field is inherent to their athleticism and their being." It's one of innovative spirit, too. "They started to create their own moves that were pretty sophisticated," Kafaf said. "That's when I knew these kids were special. "You can teach someone to do a swipe or an outside block. What they'd do, particularly Jayson, instead of blowing into a lineman, he would sidestep, get the lineman to commit and do a move on them they couldn't combat or counter." Naturally, they wanted to push them- selves in college, and Notre Dame offered the competitive and academic outlet that would challenge them. They were a pack- age deal, no questions asked. Their mo- tors run the fastest when they're together. "They're constantly at each other," Kafaf said. "I think they singularly would not be as good as they are if they didn't have each other to push and chal- lenge each other. "I watched them time and time again, if one of them worked a great move, the other would get challenged by that and want to be better. Those two pushed TIRELESS MOTORS Senior defensive linemen Jayson and Justin Ademilola's insatiable desire to better themselves is the backbone of their 2021 success

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