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Northwestern football’s No. 3 player of 2022: DL Adetomiwa Adebawore

Talk about an absolute unit.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Northwestern at Maryland Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In Northwestern’s top 10 players of 2022 ranking, the top three separated themselves from the rest. Among Inside NU’s 14 voters, 13 ballots had some combination of Adetomiwa Adebawore, Evan Hull and Peter Skoronski in their top three players. It should come to no surprise that these were Northwestern’s three best players from 2022, and we’ll kick off the final trio with the Wildcats’ highest ranked defensive player:

Gavin Dorsey (3):

Stats: 38 tackles, 27 solo, nine tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, one pass breakup

Going into the 2022 season, we ranked Adebawore as the fourth-most important player for the Wildcats, and it was widely known that he would be the anchor on Northwestern’s defense. Not only did he deliver on high expectations, but he also put his name among the ranks to become yet another highly drafted Northwestern player.

Despite being on a defensive line unit that largely struggled, Adebawore starred. The senior captain logged five sacks and made his presence felt throughout the year, recording an 80.0 PFF pass rush grade.

His first sack came with a bang. Against Duke, Adebawore ran fast around the left side of the line, stripping the ball away from an unsuspecting Riley Leonard. While it was recovered by the Blue Devils, it set the tone for a strong year for the defensive end.

Adebawore got back on the board two weeks later against Miami (OH). On the first play of the fourth quarter, he brought down RedHawks quarterback Aveon Smith on third down. The sack motivated the ‘Cats, resulting in the lead-taking touchdown for Northwestern, although the Wildcats would not hold onto the lead. The game resulted in his highest pass rush grade of the season at 85.8.

In College Park, Adebawore had his best game of the year. The senior defender notched a season-high pair of sacks, including a fourth-quarter takedown of Billy Edwards Jr. that ignited the late Wildcat touchdown drive that tied the score at 24. Adebawore later wrapped up his 2022 campaign with three tackles-for-loss over the last two weeks of the season, including a sack versus the Illini.

Despite the defense’s struggles, Adebawore was one of the few bright spots that shone on a 1-11 team. His tenacity in the pass rush gave the chance for the Northwestern offense to score, and his massive presence created opportunities for others on the defensive line. The run defense may have been the worst in the Big Ten, but it was largely due to the fact that opponents would rush away from the big run stuffer.

Adebawore gave the Wildcats everything he had over his four-year career in Evanston. Even though Northwestern wasn’t able to surround the rest of the defensive line with talent in the past two years, Adebawore has by far been the ‘Cats’ best defender and a staple on the front line. Adebawore was named a captain for the Wildcats last season, and now looks become the fifth Northwestern athlete drafted to the NFL in the last three years. The results of the season may not have been what anyone on the defense expected nor wanted, but Adebawore proved once again in 2022 that he was a force to be reckoned with.