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Former Wildcat, Adeoye, now a pro football player with Ravens

  • Marion High School graduate Aaron Adeoye fills out some paperwork recently to become a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. Adeoye was better known as a basketball player in high school and college, but emerged late in his collegiate career as a defensive end prospect.

    Marion High School graduate Aaron Adeoye fills out some paperwork recently to become a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. Adeoye was better known as a basketball player in high school and college, but emerged late in his collegiate career as a defensive end prospect.
    Photo provided

 
BY GAGE JOHNSON
Contributing Writer
updated: 6/6/2019 9:12 AM

MARION -- While it may have been an unconventional journey, former Marion Wildcat Aaron Adeoye has become a member of the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens.

On Monday May 6, Adeoye announced via Instagram that he had signed a contract with the Ravens.

Football wasn't even Adeoye's favorite sport growing up. His main focus was on the hardwood. It was the camaraderie with friends that brought him to the gridiron.

"In high school, honestly, it was something that everyone was doing," Adeoye said. "I would play basketball, and then once it was summertime, that was where all my friends were, and I just wanted to be where my friends were. Then after that, I was kind of good at it."

Marion High School football head coach Kerry Martin coached the 6-foot, 6-inch beast of a defensive end in his time as a Wildcat and believed Adeoye was always capable of something special as a football player despite his abilities on the basketball court.

"Many of us felt that Aaron had an amazing upside with unlimited potential," Martin said. "I thought he was a good basketball player, but his skillset was best suited for the football field."

While Adeoye earned All-Conference and All-South honors during his high school football career, it was Cuss Wilson Gymnasium where he continued to draw attention from Division I schools with his capabilities as a basketball player.

Adeoye nabbed multiple All-Conference and All-South honors, while also earning Honorable Mention All-State honors for his 19.0 points-per-game and 13.0 rebounds-per-game averages during his senior season.

These notable statistics led the former Wildcat on a long journey throughout the world of college basketball.

Adeoye spent a year at Ball State University, transferred to John A. Logan College for a season, transferred again to Western Kentucky University, and then once more to Southeast Missouri State University in 2014.

After wrapping up his basketball career, it was a combination of watching games on TV and a little push from his roommate that led to Adeoye returning to the game of football.

He tried out for SEMO's team the following spring, and shortly after, he worked toward making a football career his priority. Once his time at SEMO ended, the AAF came calling.

The Alliance of American Football was met with much controversy, after the pro-am football league had to shut down operations because of a shortage of finances. Multiple athletes from the league said they were left hanging after the announcement, having to pay their own way to get back home, along with their hotel bills and medical bills.

However, it was a much different experience for Adeoye.

"That was probably one of the best decisions of my life," Adeoye said. "That's where I really learned how to play football. In college, I played football, but I didn't learn football. I don't think without the AAF I would know as much as I do now. It was like an accelerated course for football for me."

Adeoye said that it was being able to play alongside other athletes that had NFL experience and realizing he was capable of playing at the same level that let him know he was ready to play football professionally.

Eventually, connections he had made with a former NFL general manager had helped him get his foot in the door, and earned a contract with the Ravens.

While there were many stops along the way to making his dream into a reality, Adeoye says that without it, he wouldn't be where he is today.

"Not every stop was easy and not every stop was the best, but it just showed me that if you keep working on something that good things will come," Adeoye said. "When something hits you, you have to get back up and hit harder."

The Ravens are in the midst of preparing for the 2019-2020 season, which begins with its first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 8 at Baltimore, Maryland.