Notre Dame Football

St. Peter's Prep Pipeline Could Continue

December 6, 2018

With four players on Notre Dame’s current roster, St. Peter’s Prep head coach Rich Hansen is as invested in the Irish’s success as any high school coach in America.

“I’m really happy for all of those guys,” Hansen says. “Obviously, they’re 12-0 and they’re living large. There’s nothing better than what they’re doing.”

The New Jersey coaching legend sent a trio of defensive players to South Bend earlier this year in freshmen Shayne Simon, Jayson Ademilola and Justin Ademilola, but Brandon Wimbush has received the most attention this season.

The senior quarterback began the year as the starter before being benched after three games. But Wimbush never pouted or forced any division within the locker room. With his replacement, Ian Book, sidelined, Wimbush started Senior Day and helped lead the Irish to a victory over Florida State in addition to a smattering of other playing time throughout.

“This is the thing that has to be crystal clear to people,” Hansen says. “Brandon Wimbush loves the University of Notre Dame. He loves the football program, he loves his teammates, he loves being there.

“Would he like to be pulling the trigger every snap? Yeah, he would. Of course, he would, he’s a competitor. But he loves the place and he loves the team and he’s going to do whatever he has to do for the team’s success. He works as hard on weeks when he knows he’s starting as weeks when he knows he’s not.”

Wimbush’s approach hasn’t surprised his former coach in the least

“It’s him as a person and it’s how he’s approached athletics and how he’s approached his role as a premier athlete,” says Hansen. “I’ve been in those situations with him when he’s come to me with genuine concern about a player or a situation. He’s just a good guy. He understands what being a leader really means.

“If you needed a model written for people to look at on how to handle adversity, take this one. Brandon has probably handled this as well as anybody in the history of college football. The two toughest jobs in the world, I’m told, are God and the quarterback at Notre Dame. I think it’s true. That’s rough, man. He’s handled as well or as better as anybody could. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of the other guys.”

The new redshirt rule has given all three youngsters the opportunity to see the field as freshmen with Jayson Ademilola a part of the defensive line rotation while Justin and Simon have shown flashes during their appearances.

“Jayson is coming along,” says Hansen. “Justin is a guy who was maybe a little under the radar. The Notre Dame coaches have told me he’s awesome. If it wasn’t for the depth they have, he’d be on the field 15 to 20 snaps too. Shayne Simon is going to be a mainstay there. I’m happy with where they’re at.”

Jayson Ademilola, Shayne Simon, Justin Ademilola (L to R)

Hansen had the chance to get out to South Bend for the Senior Day home game against the Seminoles to see his guys.

“I was really excited about how they all played,” he says. “It’s a special place.”

Hansen’s feelings make it more likely that the natural pipeline between the schools will continue, especially with Notre Dame already recruiting multiple underclassmen at St. Peter’s Prep, including 2020 linebacker Cody Simon‍ and 2021 defensive lineman George Rooks‍.

“My guys all know what to expect when they’re talking to Notre Dame coaches and Notre Dame knows what to expect when they’re walking in my office,” says Hansen. “They know that I care about my guys and my guys care about more than football over the next 10 years. They want to know about their life and obviously, that’s the place to get it done

“Notre Dame is one of those places that’s just a different place. When they come calling, you have to listen because it’s a different environment, it’s a different culture. For a lot of my guys, it fits perfectly. For some, maybe it doesn’t. I just think we’ve had good experiences there. I have a good relationship with Coach (Brian) Kelly and the coaching staff. I think they do a phenomenal job and they care about the kids and that’s as important to me as anything.”

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