Hakeem Adeniji hadn’t even completed his first year at the University of Kansas when the offensive lineman began to think he had arrived as a college football player.
His hunch proved correct, as further confirmed this week, when the four-year starter for the Jayhawks learned the NFL selected him as a participant at its 2020 scouting combine.
Adeniji, along with more than 300 other prospects deemed as possible draft picks and worthy of an invite, will spend Feb. 23 through March 2 in Indianapolis for the annual pre-draft event. There Adeniji will partake in interviews, workouts and much more, as scouts, coaches and executives from all 32 NFL teams gauge their interest in the incoming potential rookies.
It was during the 2017 draft that Adeniji got some encouraging proof that he could make it as an offensive lineman. The Colts took Tarell Basham, a defensive end from Ohio, in the third round. Adeniji immediately recalled matching up against Basham for KU in Week 2 of his freshman year.
“I had a pretty good game that week, and I remember at the end of the season seeing him go in like the third round,” Adeniji shared recently. “I was going out there, freshman, I was like 260 (pounds), and I’m playing with some cats that are in the league now.”
His primary takeaway from that development?
“I can really hold my own,” Adeniji said.
That battle with Basham came in just the second game of Adeniji’s college career, long before he finished his time at KU as a starter in all 48 games from 2016-19.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds during his senior year at Kansas, Adeniji earned All-Big 12 first team honors from the league’s coaches and second-team distinction from the Associated Press.
Shortly before his senior season concluded, Adeniji told reporters he looked forward to the next step of his football journey, which would obviously involve a lot of training ahead of the NFL Draft. And though he spent most of the past four seasons starting at left tackle, Adeniji is open to moving inside on the O-line if that’s what it takes to play at the next level.
“Obviously I’ve been thinking about it because it’s my last go-round,” Adeniji said of a potential pro career. “I love the game of football, so that’s nothing. I love putting in the work and playing whatever it takes, as far as position switching and all of that. I’ve been playing O-line my whole life, and it’s the same regardless of where I am.”
An unranked prospect when he arrived at KU in 2016, the Garland, Texas, native hopes to keep on surprising people while pursuing an NFL career.
“I’m just going to go out there and keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Adeniji said. “You know, it’s the game I love, and I’m blessed to have an opportunity to continue to play on, so I’m going to take that and just keep working.”
This will mark the third consecutive year KU sends a player to the NFL’s scouting combine. Dorance Armstrong Jr. participated in 2018 and Daniel Wise did in 2019. Both Armstrong, who became a fourth-round pick, and Wise, who went undrafted, are now on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster.
Before the combine, Adeniji also is scheduled to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 25, in Mobile, Ala.