February 16th, 2006
by Joe Kendall, Sports Assistant
This is the second week of the Collegiate Times' in-depth series where we will provide a look at some of Tech’s top football recruits for 2006. This week we take a look at Carteret High’s Jason Adjepong, a highly-touted defensive end from north New Jersey.
Jason Adjepong’s mother may want to look into a good long-distance plan for her standout son. The high school senior and Virginia Tech commitment has been racking up minutes making friends with his future teammates on the defensive line.
“I talk to all of them,” Adjepong said. “I just got off the phone with (John) Graves, I actually just called Ladi (Ojiboye) on the phone but he didn’t answer. I talk to D-Rob (Daryl Robertson), I talk to Mike (Gee), I talk to a whole bunch of them, and we’ve started really clicking, really meshing. I’m really excited to play with them.”
The Hokies 2006 recruiting class is stocked with potential on the D-line. Of the 19 signees in the 2006 class, six will be lining up at either defensive end or tackle, including three four-star prospects (Adjepong, Graves, and Ojiboye).
It isn’t just his fellow freshmen that Adjepong is building relationships with, either. He’s also been in contact with several current members of the Virginia Tech defense, including the-soon-to-graduate Darryl Tapp, a player that Adjepong has already drawn comparisons to.
“We’ve become great friends throughout this process,” Adjepong said. “I tell him all the time that he’s my favorite college player. He’s everything that I want to be, you know? He’s an extremely hard worker, a great student, a great teammate, and an excellent player. It’s an honor (to be compared to him).”
Adjepong’s path, with its next stop at Lane Stadium, didn’t start with the pigskin, though. Too big to play in the Pop Warner leagues as a kid, Adjepong traded in organized football for organized futbol, and quickly made a name for himself on the soccer fields of North Jersey.
“When I was little, I used to be real good at soccer,” Adjepong said. “I did other things to stay active. I played a lot of baseball, a lot of basketball and soccer. I did some different things, but I met up with football when I got to high school.”
With high school came an end to the weight restrictions of Pop Warner football, and a football-eager Adjepong dove headfirst onto the gridiron where his talent was promptly recognized. After just four games with Carteret High School’s freshman team, Adjepong garnered the attention of varsity head coach Bob Molarz, who suggested that Adjepong be moved from the interior line to fullback and linebacker to take advantage of his speed and athleticism.
The shift paid off, and Adjepong graduated to the varsity team as a sophomore, where he competed with upperclassmen for playing time at linebacker. Knowing that Adjepong was too talented to watch from the sideline, Molarz decided to try him out at defensive end just five days before Carteret’s first game.
“For argument’s sake we said ‘lets put his hand down, let’s make him a defensive end,’” Molarz said. “He started our first game at defensive end, and the rest, as they say, is history. He made us look like geniuses for that move.”
Though he had earned the respect of his team and coaches, it wasn’t until later that season that the rest of the Garden State started paying attention.
“His sophomore year against South River — one of our archrivals — he had 11 tackles, four for a loss, three sacks, an interception off of a deflection, and two fumble recoveries, one in the end zone for a touchdown,” Molarz said. “That put the stamp on it right there. We knew he was going to be special, I think after that one everyone else knew it as well.”
After following his standout sophomore year with a stellar junior season, Adjepong was once again called upon to play linebacker at Carteret. In his senior year, he accumulated 107 tackles and nine sacks while splitting time between the defensive end and middle linebacker positions.
It was during that senior season that calls and letters started piling up from every major college east of the Mississippi. Virginia Tech happened to be one of the schools that piqued Adjepong’s interest.
“We started (recruiting Adjepong) back in the summer of ‘05 and he made a visit here that June,” said Tech defensive line coach and Adjepong’s primary recruiter, Charley Wiles. “We hit it off from the very beginning, and Jason was a priority from the very start.”
As Adjepong trimmed his list of schools down, the Hokies managed to keep their name near the top.
“I waited until real late to narrow it down, but I had offers from everybody,” Adjepong said. “I finally narrowed it down to a top six: Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Ohio State, Boston College and Iowa.”
After mulling the decision over with his family and coach, Adjepong made his decision, verbally committing to the Hokies.
“It really came down to the people,” Adjepong said. “The people, the coaches, the players and the incoming class at Virginia Tech were unlike any other school.”
Though there’s little question he has the raw skills to be an impact player at the college level, Adjepong will need to bulk up to have success at the next level — he currently checks in at 6’3, 248 pounds.
“Like anybody coming out of high school, he’ll need to be bigger, faster and stronger,” Molarz said. “I think he’s got a good foothold, but like anybody he’ll have to be little more B.F.S. — bigger, faster, stronger.”
Despite his need to adjust to the speed of college play, Molarz seems confident in Adjepong’s ability to improve overall.
“He’s full-tilt, 100 percent non-stop high motor, high energy,” Molarz said. “He’s a team leader in the weight room and in practice. One of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet off the field, but just a son of a gun on the field.”
Everyone who’s met Adjepong seems to echo Molarz’s opinion about Adjepong’s personality.
“(He’s) a great kid. I really enjoyed getting to know Jason and his mother,” Wiles said. “His mother, Sandy, is a super lady, she has done a terrific job with Jason.”
“Coaches that came to recruit him were amazed at how many students he was friendly with,” Molarz said. “He’s one of the most respected student-athletes we’ve ever had come through our building. In fact, our principal would come down and tell (the recruiters) ‘I can’t tell you a lick about Jason’s ability, but what I can attest to is that he is one of the greatest kids we’ve had around here.’ ”
Now one of the greatest kids to have ever walked the halls of Carteret High School will make the 500-mile journey to Blacksburg, but home will only be a long-distance phone call away.