When a loose ball settled into the big hands of Adebayo Soremekun (Add-ah-buy-yo Sore-im-ih-kin), he knew he had the opportunity to make his dream come true.
As a huge defensive lineman, 6-foot-3, 298 pounds, a touchdown had been what he always wanted.
Soremekun provided New Mexico’s “biggest” highlight in its 31-23 loss to San Diego State last Saturday: a 44-yard fumble recovery touchdown return.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said Soremekun, who finished the game with two fumble recoveries, one sack and one tackle for a loss. “But literally it felt like the ball just came into my hands. And after that I was like, I guess this was just meant to be. Just run. Just do it. As a D-lineman to score a touchdown there’s no greater feeling. It was amazing.”
UNM coach Bob Davie said the play was fun to watch, but he was most worried about the official’s ruling of whether it would be a fumble or a forward pass by the quarterback. After Soremekun scooped up the fumble by quarterback Ryan Agnew, Soremekun sprinted along his sideline, flexed his biceps after getting into the end zone and celebrated with teammates. The touchdown stood.
“A lot of defensive linemen dream about that and for it to happen to me, and it was for 44 yards, I was like, ‘Oh man, this can’t be real. I must be dreaming,'” Soremekun said. “And, it happened. This is nothing but God, man.”
Soremekun, whose name is of Nigerian origin, has had many moments of fortune since he decided to play football at Dorsey High in Los Angeles.
He has his aunt to thank for that decision.
“My auntie, she has two sons that play football,” Soremekun said. “She said, ‘You’re going to play football or it’s going to be a problem.’ I was scared of her at the time. I’m glad she made me play. It’s one of the best things that has happened in my life.”
Soremekun played on the offensive line at Dorsey High. He said he received a few NCAA Division II offers after high school. Instead, he went to play football at Long Beach City College, where he made the switch to defensive line.
After two years, he said he received two offers, one from Purdue and the other from New Mexico. He chose the Lobos because he believed they wanted him more and he also made a strong connection with defensive line coach Stan Eggen.
Davie found about that connection when he visited Soremekun’s home during his recruiting.
Soremekun was excited to show Davie a handwritten letter that Eggen had sent him.
“(Soremekun) pulled the handwritten letter that Stan wrote to him out of his backpack,” Davie said. “He carried that backpack every day with him. He said, ‘I want to show you something, coach. This is the only coach, the only school that shown me any sincere interest.'”
Soremekun said he has been happy since picking the Lobos over the Boilermakers. It’s been a challenging season, as UNM is 3-6, 1-4 in Mountain West Conference play, and on a four-game losing streak as it enters its game against Air Force (3-6, 1-4) Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Colorado Springs.
However, Soremekun is pleased with his progression throughout the season that has seen him contribute to a defense that continues to improve. And of course, there was the 44-yard touchdown on Saturday, on national television.
Soremekun received several texts from family and friends, but he said the phone call from his brother, Ade, was really special.
“My older brother, who I don’t really talk to, he was watching that game,” Soremekun said. “He said that he was proud of me. It meant a lot to me because he didn’t really believe in me before. He said he was wrong and that he was proud of me.”
Soremekun is now making sure the Lobos made the right choice in believing in him.