Tyler Adetona is a three star wide receiver by Scout.com. He had previously made a verbal commitment…
Adetona King For A Day
Maybe the 6-0, 182-pound IU commit from Gainesville, Ga., will be the player who steps in and replaces James Hardy as the Hoosiers' No. 1 receiver in the fall, and maybe he won't. But we're not talking about his ascent up the Hoosiers' depth chart.
Instead, we're talking about his standing in the city of Ijebu Ode, Nigeria. Ijebu Ode is a city of more than 400,000 located in the southwestern part of this west African country. The city's inhabitants are the Ijebus, which is a sub-group (or kingdom) of the Yoruba tribe which numbers in excess of 10 million and stretches over parts of Nigeria and the neighboring country of Benin. The king of Ijebus Ode – referred to as the Awujale of Ijebuland – is Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona.
That king also happens to be Tyler Adetona's great uncle. That makes this standout wideout not only a welcomed member of Coach Bill Lynch's first IU recruiting class, but also a prince by blood who is in line to become a king.
It's not a story that Tyler talks about a great deal, but it's one that he's learned that others take very seriously.
"I found out about it when I was young, probably five or six years old," Adetona said. "When I was younger I kind of blew it off. But as I've gotten older, I realized that people were serious about this. This is no joke. This is my family."
Adetona's great uncle is now 73 years old and has ruled Ijebu Ode for the last 47 years, making him the longest reigning king of Ijebuland in recorded history. Since you can only be considered royalty based on the male's bloodline, Tyler's grandfather is also a prince, as is his father.
Tyler admits that he's still learning about his heritage, with much of the information coming from family members and friends who either live in the U.S. or who have come to visit at different times.
While one side of Tyler's family tree is of royalty and rooted in Ijebu Ode, he has actually never been to Nigeria. He was born in Georgia and spent some of his childhood years in London, which is where his sister still lives. He said he had originally hoped to travel to Nigeria this upcoming summer before he started college, but those plans are now on hold.
But Adetona is committed to making it there at some point in the not-too-distant future.
"I think everybody wants to find out where they came from, look at their background," Adetona said. "I'm definitely going back to Nigeria one day. I don't have an exact date. But I know some are interested to meet me because of my last name. I'm definitely going to go there to find out more about my family."
There could also come a time in the future where Tyler could have the option of going to Ijebuland not as a visitor, but to return as the king of the local tribe. He said he was asked about his desire to do just that last summer at a family funeral, which was a bit much for him to comprehend at this point in his life.
"I don't know much about the political role or anything like that – that's way beyond me," Adetona said. "I'm only 17 years old. I'm not trying to run a whole city of 300,000 people. I'm just trying to get through college, and hopefully, God willing, I stay healthy and make it to the NFL."
He's also committed to getting a quality education at IU, something that's of utmost importance in his family. Many of those family members who are in the U.S. are here for either professional or educational opportunities, and Tyler has one cousin who is currently at Harvard.
"Education is a big part of it," Adetona said. "Depending on how things go for me, I could maybe take my degree with me and go to Nigeria and start a business."
Or, perhaps, return some day as a king.
But those kind of thoughts and decisions aren't on Adetona's radar these days. Instead, he's focused on the next four or five years of his life which will be spent wearing an IU uniform. He's one of a handful of talented receivers in the Hoosiers' ‘08 class, someone who was intrigued by the chance to play in the Hoosiers' spread offense and impressed by everyone he came in contact with during his IU official visit.
"When I took my visit to Indiana, I was already committed to another school (Troy)," Adetona said. "But after being there, I knew it was where I needed to be. It was the perfect situation."
Adetona was ready to commit to the Hoosiers shortly after his visit, but the IU staff first made him call the Troy University staff to inform them that he was de-committing and intended to commit elsewhere.
While that wasn't the easiest route for IU to take, Adetona said he appreciated their approach.
"They made me do it the right way," Adetona said. "They took the opportunity to slow things down to make sure things turned out right."
With that behind him, Adetona is excited about his future in Bloomington, but he admits there's always s degree of trepidation about leaving the comforts of home.
"It's tough thinking about leaving home, but it's just another turn in the road," Adetona said.
Adetona's life figures to have many more turns in the future. Maybe he has a career waiting in the NFL, or maybe he is destined to go to Nigeria someday and lead a kingdom.
The IU-bound receiver has no idea what the future has in store, but he's hoping to succeed at whatever life throws his way.
"People talk about the king and stuff like that, but you can be your own king in your own world," Adetona said. "What is a king? If you look at the definition of a king you think of people with power and money. But kings are leaders, kings are people that others look to for advice. That's the type of person I want to be."
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