Six quarters of football – that is all Anoka’s
“The season wasn’t what we expected – definitely not for me,” Ayeni said. “The end of the first half of the second game, I broke my ankle, and I was out for the rest of the season. It was disappointing and hard to watch the games we lost. There was nothing I could do about it.”
A full-time linebacker, Ayeni was hurt on the other side of the ball.
“I played some receiver along with linebacker. I was running a fade route where it was pretty much a jump ball. The corner landed on my ankle.”
A surgery, three screws, and a plate later, Ayeni was unable to start rehabbing for six weeks.
“Rehab was frustrating,” Ayeni admitted. “I play basketball as well, and I tried to rush back. I was too eager to get back. After surgery, the doctor gave me a date of when I could be doing stuff again. I started running and stuff – which was a terrible idea. When I did come back – after doing some physical therapy – I ended up hurting myself again during the basketball season. I had to sit out again. This past month I have been hitting physical therapy hard. This time I have a new appreciation for the time it takes to let my body fully heal. I realized the only way I can put my team in the best position is if I am at my best.”
The junior played in the first six games of the basketball season but took a break because of the pain. The post player started up again in January. There were thoughts of shutting him down for the season, but he vowed to rehab hard once the basketball season was over.
“I was the only returning starter, so I put it upon myself to get back as soon as possible.”
With a more measured approach to rehab this time around, Ayeni should be back to full strength by the start of the season.
“The biggest thing has been range of motion,” the 6’2″ 215-pound junior said. “The surgery made my ankle stiff. In the beginning, we focused on getting the strength in my calf back. Now, I am getting my coordination back, and I work on my balance. I get in about four sessions a week with a trainer on a field. We do footwork and cone drills. Our football coach sends us workouts we do. I am able to lift some at home too.”
On the field, the Tornados struggled through a one-win season, but Ayeni thinks the team is ready for bigger things in 2020.
“I think we learned a lot as a team,” Ayeni told northstarfootballnews.com. “We had a lot of young people and have a lot of people returning. Now they are going to come into the season with all that confidence and experience. That should take us farther than last year.”
Ayeni will be anchoring Anoka’s defense.
“I was the weak-side outside linebacker in our 3-4 defense,” the soon to be three-year starter explained. “I dropped back into coverage most of the time. I think I am best reading the offense – reading my keys and making sure I am sound in what I am doing. The best part of my game is my tackling. I am always going to try to leave it all on the line each play.”
Like all football players, Ayeni continues to work on his craft.
“This past season, I worked on my coverage skills. For next year, I need to trust my instincts and prepare myself, so I know where I need to be and put myself in the best position to make plays.”
Ayeni – who reads The Bible every day – didn’t expect college attention after his abbreviated junior season.
“Recruiting has been surprising. I know coaches look at your junior year as the most important year as far as film. When I put together my film, I used the little bit of highlights I had from my junior year, and then I added some sophomore year highlights. A lot of coaches liked it, and I got the four offers I have now. It was surprising to me because I played so little. It is nice to know coaches have the confidence in me and my abilities.”
“Most coaches see me as a weak-side linebacker,” Ayeni explained. “All my offers are for linebacker.”
His offers include Northern State, Bemidji State, Southwest Minnesota State, and the University of Mary. He is also getting looks from the next level.
“North Dakota State has been talking to me a lot,” Ayeni said. “I have talked to Minnesota, South Dakota State, and Northern Iowa.”
With his limited time on the field, Ayeni had to get creative. It worked.
“Most of the coaches I talked to were surprised that I was injured. Some of the coaches didn’t even realize my highlight was 60 percent from my sophomore year. They do want to see more and see how I move now. They like that I play fast and am always around the ball. They like my intensity.”
They will like him even more after he gets a full season on tape.
Recruiting Report: David Ayeni (2021)
Six quarters of football – that is all Anoka’s