Once, or twice at most. That’s the number of times that a quarterback usually throws a pass to the side of the field occupied by a great cornerback.
In Japan’s X League, that’s the area where Al-Rilwan Adeyemi operates.
You can’t blame quarterbacks for being reluctant to target the receivers Adeyemi is matched up with. His speed and ball-hawking ability are skills that had not been seen here before him.
The 23-year-old is one of the newly added import players suiting up for the Fujitsu Frontiers this year, and has definitely been a defensive upgrade for the league’s top club.
The 178-cm Adeyemi, however, said that he doesn’t consider himself the fastest guy in the world, and speed is not the only trait he uses on the gridiron.
“My speed is one thing,” Adeyemi said. “But in America, there are many players that are a lot faster. So when you play against a faster guy, you have to rely on film study, you have to rely on footwork, you have to rely on positioning coaches put you (in).
“Speed is definitely an asset that I try to use whenever I need to, but making sure other things are working well so that I’m able to make plays.”
The transition to come to Japan and join the Frontiers looks to have been smooth for Adeyemi.
He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and spent his first 10 years there before moving to Santa Monica, California (he said that he played soccer and cricket in Nigeria and gained his swift footwork through soccer). So he was open-minded about going to another country.
“I was like, ‘Why not see another part of the world?’ ” he said with a smile. “Eventually, I want to make all seven continents. So I was like, this is a perfect opportunity to go to Asia.”
Adeyemi, who tied for the most interceptions in University of San Diego history with 15 and graduated from the school last year, tried out for the New York Giants in the summer of 2012 and Detroit Lions this past spring.
Unfortunately, he came up short in his bid to reach the NFL, but feels satisfied where he is right now. And it seems like he got along with his new teammates quickly.
“I love my teammates,” said Adeyemi, who missed the season’s first four games due to a spleen injury. “They are great people. Great guys, very inclusive. I’m very happy that I’ve added them to part of my life, not just my football life.”
Fujitsu, which will face the Panasonic Impulse in the playoff semifinals at Osaka’s Kincho Stadium on Sunday, is one of two unbeaten X League teams. (The 7-0 Obic Seagulls are the other.)
While the Frontiers seek their first X League championship this season, Adeyemi insisted that the team can’t afford to envision the Japan X Bowl that it will get to by defeating Panasonic.
“We’re not looking forward to the next two games,” said Adeyemi, who’s had five tackles and two interceptions in three games he’s played. “We’re looking forward to the next game. Right now, all we’re guaranteed is the next game. So we have to treat the game like our last game.”