Coach Envisions 2021 Wisconsin Commit Ayo Adebogun as a "Zack Baun Kind of Player"

Jake Kocorowski

One play during the 2019 season showcased the "incredible speed" of Wisconsin 2021 commit Ayo Adebogun, and it was not even one of his 16 reported sacks.

Playing fellow North Shore Conference foe Whitefish Bay on Sept. 19, the Mequon (Wis.) Homestead head coach Dave Keel saw the Blue Dukes utilize a new running back that the Highlanders had not seen before. Nigel Cheeks had already broken one for a 66-yard touchdown earlier in the game, and he was about to take off for another.

“He beat everybody, and it was opposite (side of the line of scrimmage from) Ayo," Keel told AllBadgers.com in late January. "Ayo took off and actually ran him down to maybe a 30-yard gain instead of a 75-yard touchdown, showing he had the same speed or more than the kid who would had already run past our defense once."

That effort and subsequent tackle was a small morsel of what became a standout junior season for Adebogun, who claimed large school all-state honors by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) and a second-team all-state selection by the Associated Press. According to WisSports.net, he registered 75 tackles, 31 for loss, along with 16 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2019.

From Keel's perspective, Adebogun's quickness and ability to use his hands "exceptionally well" has stood out so far with a year to go in his prep career.

"As an offensive lineman pass sets, he's able to go either outside or inside, get the o-lineman’s hands off of him and just burst around the corner," Keel said. "Or if his responsibilities to stunt into the B-gap, he's extremely athletic, able to do that.”

In December, Adebogun verbally committed to Wisconsin -- the seventh known at that time for UW's class of 2021. He publicly announced his decision after receiving the offer three months earlier in September.

Flashback to a year prior, Keel recalled Adebogun first standing out during his sophomore year in 2018, working as a member of the scout team during a playoff run that eventually ended with the WIAA Division 2 state championship. 

“The scout team guys go full speed against our guys," Keel said. "It’s full speed on the line of scrimmage -- and we don't tackle quarterbacks or running backs to the ground during those sessions -- but it was becoming really apparent that we were having a tough time with our No. 1 offensive line blocking him. 

"He was really special. In fact, we had to tone him down a little bit when he got to the quarterback because we didn’t want our quarterbacks to get whacked. So he really popped on onto our radar during that five-week playoff run his sophomore year, that, ‘Hey, we have something really special.’ So we started to mention him to all the coaches that came through and talked about his upside and all the positives that he brought to the table.”

Both Rivals and 247Sports currently designate Adebogun as a high three-star talent and one of the top five players in the state for the 2021 class. That being said, one area Keel believes Adebogun will grow heading into his final year in high school will be in the putting "some good weight on." 

The Homestead product's Hudl profile boasts a 6'3, 205-pound frame. That process is currently in progress.

"He’s working hard in the weight room," Keel said, calling Adebogun "exceptionally lean." "He’s probably up to about 215 (pounds) now. By the time the Badgers put him on the field, he'll probably be 235 or so. We're hoping that he puts on five to seven pounds of muscle from now till the start of our season next August.”

Homestead mostly kept Adebogun on the line with his hand in the ground, but Keel also acknowledged the Highlanders' defensive coordinator likes his linemen to play multiple positions. Thus, they also moved him around a bit.

When Adebogun gets to the next level, however, Keel thinks his all-state player -- with his quickness and burst -- will stand up and play off the edge in defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard's scheme.

"I kind of envision him as a Zack Baun kind of player," Keel said. "He's a really good athlete on the outside of a 3-4 defense, which of course Coach Leonhard and the Badgers play in."

Keel also detailed what he feels could be in store for Adebogun at the next level playing under Leonhard and position coach Bobby April III. 

"I really believe he's going to be that outside ‘backer, and even Coach Leonhard, when we chatted, talked about him in that position," Keel said. "I don't know what their term is for that position, but it's the position where you can drop into the flat and cover man-to-man a back out of the backfield or blitz off the edge or even come inside on a blitz. 

"Those are the ways I see the Badgers using him.”

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