Already one of the more notable defensive players in Wabash College football history, former Brownsburg standout AJ Akinribade wants to finish his career in grand style.
“I’m really pumped for this season,” said Akinribade, who at 5-foot-11 has bulked up 15 lbs. and will play at around 215. “We ended with a bad taste in our mouth last year. We’re motivated, and I’m excited to see how we can put all the pieces back together. I’m ready to get back out there with my brothers. We had a great spring together.”
In 2011, Akinribade was named North Coast Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year, the first Wabash player to do so since it joined in 2000. Also an all-conference honoree, Akinribade and the Little Giants made it to the second round of the Division III tournament, where they lost 20-8 to eventual national runner-up Mount Union.
As a sophomore, Akinribade was all-conference and was named to its all-decade team, but with two losses, Wabash didn’t make the playoffs.
Akinribade was all-NCAC again last fall, as Wabash destroyed its competition outside of a 35-17 loss to Wittenberg, which beat out the Little Giants for the conference’s automatic tourney bid.
The defeat was a devastating, haunting experience.
“It gave me nightmares for weeks, and sometimes I still dream about it and toss and turn in my sleep,” Akinribade said. “We played well for 90 percent of the season, and couldn’t have played any worse in the first half against Wittenberg.
“We’ll take one game at a time this season, but believe me, when that game ended, we circled it for redemption this coming season.”
While Wabash has failed to reach the tournament the past two years, it has dominated the Monon Bell rivalry with DePauw since Akinribade’s been on campus. The Little Giants have won all three meetings since 2011, by an average of nearly 27 points, and five straight in the series.