Notre Dame got the first of hopefully three defensive linemen to announce their intentions to return to Notre Dame rather than pursuing the NFL this off-season on Wednesday night when Justin Ademilola announced his return. Ademilola’s return means the Irish have their defender with the second-most sacks in 2021 back. Their attention will now turn to their sack leader, Isaiah Foskey, and Ademilola’s twin brother Jayson.
Jayson Ademilola may have had more hype and headlines coming into the 2021 season, but Justin ended up turning some heads this year by totaling 5.0 sacks. Only Foskey had more with his 11 – just 2.5 shy of Justin Tuck’s single-season record. Ademilola was fourth on the team in TFL with 6.0 behind Foskey (12.5), his brother Jayson (8), and JD Bertrand (7).
Coming into the season, Ademilola had just 1.0 career sack and 3.5 career TFL. He only had 35 career tackles before 2021 but doubled that total with 35 alone this year.
With Justin Ademilola back, Notre Dame has a vital cog in their defensive line returning for 2022. Ideally, Foskey and his brother Jayson announce they are returning as well for the Irish. Still, even if Foskey were to head off to the NFL, Justin Admilola’s return would give Notre Dame an excellent starting VYPER for 2022.
If Foskey returns as well, Notre Dame and Marcus Freeman will have a great problem on their hands with a trio of talented players all at the VYPER position – Ademilola, Foskey, and Jordan Botelho.
Botelho saw work as a ROVER in the second half of the season. Freeman said during bowl prep that the move was just for this season and that Notre Dame would reassess where he is best suited after it knew which DEs were returning. If Notre Dame gets both back, giving Botelho a permanent look at ROVER wouldn’t be a bad idea considering the Irish got just 1 TFL from the position in 2021.
There’s been a flurry of activity over the last few days in terms of players announcing their intentions to return or head to the NFL – or in some cases, transfer. Keep track of them all with our off-season roster movement tracker and follow along as Notre Dame looks to hit the 85 scholarship limit with our scholarship breakdown.