Adewale Adeoye knows he was given a second chance at life. He doesn’t know the exact reason why, but he’s not going to waste any minute of it.
Can you blame him? After all, three years ago the Utah State senior defensive end survived a car accident that left him and three of his former teammates – Travis Seefeldt, John Taylor and Edmund Faimalo – as well as former Aggie softball player Sarah Vasquez, hospitalized.
“I’m really fortunate and really grateful,” Adeoye said. “I honestly don’t know why God kept me here. Looking back from the pictures, I don’t know how I’m still alive. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that God gave me to still be here and play the game that I love.”
The accident Adeoye was involved in occurred on the afternoon of June 26, 2015. Returning from an outing at Newton Reservoir, Adeoye was sitting in the middle of the back seat with Taylor on his right and Faimalo on his left. The vehicle they were riding in was hit on the driver’s side by a semi-truck loaded with 52,000 pounds of milk.
The truck pushed the Chevy Tahoe, which was being driven by former nose guard Travis Seefeldt, more than 75 yards before the two vehicles finally came to rest.
“I remember everything before the accident, but everything after that I don’t remember,” Adeoye said. “I remember when our team went to Jordan Nielsen’s house, we shot some guns in the air, we rode some horses and went farming. It was a great time, but once we were going back to Jordan’s house, we got in the car accident. I literally don't remember anything after that until waking up in the hospital.”
Adeoye spent three days in the hospital. He was released at the same time as Taylor.
“The accident made me appreciate life more,” Adeoye said. “It made me become a better man and closer to God. It made me be more grateful for this opportunity that God gave me to play at Utah State and play for the Aggie brotherhood.”
The accident certainly taught Adeoye a lot about himself.
“I learned that I have a purpose in life,” Adeoye said. “I learned that if I didn’t, then God would’ve taken me. I feel like He kept me here because I had a purpose to actually play football and touch a lot of people’s lives, so with that being said, I think He taught me that I still have a lot of things to do before it’s my time.”
Adeoye is doing everything he can to make the most out of his senior season with the Aggies. Through the first four games of the year, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound native of St. Louis, Missouri, has recorded 19 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one quarterback hurry.
“He has a different urgency about where he needs to go and what we need out of him this year, with the talents and abilities that he has,” said USU assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Frank Maile. “His urgency level has changed. It could be a part of him being a senior, but better now than never happening. I’m extremely excited about where he can be because he’s just barely starting to scrap the surface of what he can do.”
In the season opener at then-No. 11 Michigan State, Adeoye matched his career high in tackles with six as the Aggies nearly upset the Spartans. One week later, in Utah State’s home opener against New Mexico State, Adeoye again tied his career high in tackles, to go along with the first two fumble recoveries of his career.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen from Wale from his junior to his senior season is just the increased amount of opportunity that we’ve given him, and he’s come through,” said Utah State head coach Matt Wells. “He had a good junior year, and he has started out pretty hot in his senior year so far. But, it’s just been an increased amount of reps. I see in him a very driven individual, a very passionate individual about his craft, about being great at pass rushing and stopping the run and being very technique sound. He cares about that.
“There is a special spot in my heart for him. He’s the last player we took in the 2014 signing class – the very last one we made the decision on. We took him knowing he was a developmental guy in this program as an outside linebacker, and we knew we were going to try and move him to the D-end. What he did in the weight room, the setback he had with the car wreck and everything he’s done since then has been, to me, big time. He’s a great teammate, he’s a good student, he’s great in the community and (he) cares about his teammates. He epitomizes, to me, Utah State football.”
Adewale redshirted his first season at Utah State in 2014 and did not see any action in 2015 following the car accident.
As a sophomore in 2016, Adeoye saw his first action as an Aggie and ended up playing in seven games. The following year, he played in all 13 games, making seven starts, finishing the season with 43 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks, and one fumble recovery.
“I’m extremely proud of his progress and where he’s at today,” Maile said. “He has taken on a huge role as being a starter for us. Compared to last year, he’s taken some huge leaps and bounds to be where he is today. He’s been playing lights out right now for us.”
Once his Utah State career is over, Adeoye would love to continue playing at the next level.
“I want to have a shot at the NFL, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll probably go into coaching, or be a referee in college,” said Adeoye, who didn’t start playing the game he loves until the seventh grade. “I really love this game, and if I can’t play anymore, I’d rather officiate it and see how that goes for me.”
Or coach. If he had to choose one or the other, which would it be?
“It would probably be coaching because I’m a student of the game, so I would love to have an impact on kids and be the reason why they do it,” Adeoye said.
The son of Louis Adeoye and Renata Jones is majoring in sociology and minoring in criminal justice. He is on track to graduate this December.
When he is not focused on football and his studies, Adeoye enjoys reading.
“Reading is key, and it teaches you a lot,” he said. “Right now, I’m reading a book called ‘The Champion Mindset’ by Joanna Zeiger. One of my teammates referred me to it, and it is actually helping me a lot with football and teaching me a lot of things about being a great football player and a great individual.”
Adeoye and the Aggies are back in action Friday night against in-state rival BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. In Utah State’s 40-24 win over BYU last year in Logan, Adeoye recorded three tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss.