Kansas is known for its legendary basketball teams and the individuals that have come through it, but recently there has been a changing of the guard. The hiring of Les Miles set a new precedent for the program and one has built plenty of excitement for the Jayhawks. The school is yet to have a player drafted prior to Day 3 since Aqib Talib was drafted with the No. 20 overall pick by the Tampa Buccaneers during the 2008 draft. With the program seemingly on the right track, there's been one player who's constantly been the anchor.
Hakeem Adeniji has started every game that he's suited up for the team and there's no secret about just how much he's embracing the stature of being an absolute locker room presence.
A product of Garland High School (Texas), and second-generation Nigerian-American, Adeniji was a three-sport athlete (track and basketball), who was a shot put thrower and center on the basketball team. On the field, he had experience on both sides of the ball at offensive tackle and defensive line. A team captain entering his final season, he helped the team reach their third straight playoff appearance, but ultimately fell short in their quest for a championship.
His older brother, Moshood, was a backup offensive lineman at Air Force (2010-2013). Following in his brothers footsteps, the younger Adeniji signed with the institution before it was discovered that a peanut allergy from a cashew that he ate when he was 10-years old raised a red flag after his body reacted negatively from it.
Swollen lips and an itchy throat left him discovering that the peanut allergy was severe. After the academy ran further tests on his body, he tested positive for the allergy and his national letter of intent to attend the school was denied. With it being so late in the process (June 2016), he was now scrambling to find a new home, but he remembered that his recent high school coach, Jeff Jordan, had recently filled the Director of Player Personnel void at Kansas.
Adeniji told the Kansas City Star that, "My heart dropped a little bit,” he said. “It’s mid-June. I don’t have anywhere to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Knowing this, he reached out to him and he quickly became a Jayhawk. Remarkably, following his unique journey, he started all 12 games seesawing back and forth at both right and left tackle spots as a true freshman.
His journey added another successful chapter, as he once again started all 12 games (11 - left tackle / 1 - right tackle). During the fifth game of the year, he suffered a torn labrum that resulted in his first shoulder surgery (right). Prior to the 2018 season, he underwent his second shoulder operation on his other (left) labrum, which was also torn. As a junior, his consecutive games streak continued, starting all 12 games at left tackle for the third straight year.
Adeniji is already off to a fast start this season having already started six games this season, which extended his consecutive stars streak to 42 straight. Teams that are looking for a developmental project, who's desire for the game is unmatched could have high amounts of interest in the Jayhawks blindside protector.
The circumstances and how he began his journey were without a doubt unforeseen, but amid the chaotic start, he has now positioned himself to become a mid-to-late round draft selection based on what he's shown to this point.