Justin can play.
This week we take a look at Justin Ademilola. The 6’2” 245 pound Ademilola, out of Jersey City, NJ, committed to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish back in June of 2016. The St. Peters prep defensive end holds a 3 star rating, but with a strong senior season, he could definitely see his rating go higher. He holds a tremendous upside that should become evident as he matures and develops more physically within the next couple of years.
The first thing that stands out about Ademilola is that he plays hard to the whistle and keeps himself in most plays by staying in control. He shows good strength and power especially in his lower body. A natural run defender, he likes to play more on the outside shade (or shoulder) of the offensive tackle, rather than in a wide 5 technique.
Ademilola uses his dominate hand in his stance to achieve good leverage and does a good job in not allowing the OT/TE to get into his chest. This use of his hand in the stance, gives a good indication of him recognizing one of the most important elements to master as a DE. By coming from a comfortable position off his first step, he generates power from his lower body and limits his exposure to being blocked right after the snap.
Ademilola sets the edge well using this technique on both toss and outside zone runs. He will take on the block aggressively and turn the offensive tackles outside shoulder toward the backfield. This forces any wide runs inside toward the heart of the defense and will not allow the ball to cross his face.
Ademilola exhibits a tremendous ability to follow the pull block and compress trap blocking inside to clog running lanes which allow the linebackers to clean up. The most impressive quality at this stage of his career is his ability to read through the offensive tackle. This essentially means that Ademilola doesn't get lost in the mesh between the QB/RB zone read, and tracks the ball throughout the play. Many of the plays he was involved in were results of him using his vision, even through the block, to spot the ball and pursue.
He shows additional discipline when the play is away from him. He maintains good position to carry out his responsibilities for the bootleg, reverse or counter plays. This characteristic would always tell me a defensive lineman was thinking and using his head during the play itself. Also, letting me know he can transition everything he was taught in practice to the actual game situation. Ademilola has the mind necessary for the position and will allow others around him to be more effective in their play. This is a huge plus in his overall grade with me and lets you know that he is an unselfish type of player.
One aspect of his game that you notice is that he is not a natural pass rusher at this point in his career. He does not have a good burst off the edge, and will need to work on his overall agility to shorten his path to the QB. What I mean by this is, he tends to get deep in his rush- almost like the angle used for a punt block. Rather, he will need to develop a shorter angle on his outside technique to turn the tackle inside and force the QB to step up, like the angle used on a field goal block.
Ademilola did show an ability to get inside the body of the offensive tackle and “bull-rush” him back into the pocket. This however, will not be as effective against bigger, more skilled tackles that he will face at the next level. Honestly though, it’s not something that I would be too worried about if you study how his future defensive coordinator, Mike Elko, likes to use his defensive ends in his schemes. Ademilola is a perfect fit for this defense.
Mike Elko is identified as running basically a 4-2-5 defensive alignment. If you study his terminology and how he uses his defensive lineman, it is essentially the old 4-4 defense. Elko, conceptually, wants his lineman to protect and hide the other 7 guys in the second and third levels. This technique allows blitzes off the edge and through the inside gaps, generating pressure on the QB quickly and not allowing too much time to elapse.
Think about all of those exotic blitz packages Brian Van Gorder implemented when he brought the house, and had DT’s drop back in coverage. This was absolutely dumb and beyond explanation. Elko looks to create pressure but by using his defensive lineman to open holes and seals all along the offensive line. Simple idea? Yes, but one that is better suited for what Notre Dame can do defensively.
Ademilola abilities are all accented in this type of defense because of what is asked by both the defensive ends. Ademilola is going to do the job of pushing down and closing running lanes, he will also get into the offensive tackle and help give the olb/rover a clear path to the pocket.
I believe in the end, Ademilola will be an example of using what the player does best to fit the needs of the defense, rather than trying to make him fit a set-in-stone defensive design. This is a very good player with tremendous upside. Ademilola will be a contributor to Notre Dame’s defenses in the future, and is a fine compliment to what Mike Elko is doing as well.