LYNDHURST, N.J.– Oluwayomi Olasehinde and Ryan Smith of Lyndhurst never thought they’d play football beyond high school.
Olasehinde didn’t even think he was going to play the sport.
“I came in thinking I was going to play soccer,” said “Yomi” who moved to the U.S. from Nigeria a decade ago.
But this fall, Olasehinde, Smith, Matt DeMarco and Mike Cooper will be continuing their gridiron careers in college.
“It’s truly an honor to see us play at the next level,” said DeMarco, a 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker.
He’ll follow in his coach Rich Tuero’s footsteps and suit up for Montclair State.
“Knowing the tradition that came out of there, knowing that my coaches [Tuero and former assistant Mike Goff] played there had an influence on my decision,” said DeMarco, a Burlsworth Character Award winner for outstanding character and sportsmanship .
DeMarco, a three-year varsity starter, texted his coach at 1 a.m. to inform him of his decision.
“He’s the greatest leader I’ve ever seen in high school sports,” Tuero said. “He’s a true warrior. Now he’ll be playing right in our backyard and I’ll get to see all his home games with my best friend and former teammate Mike Goff.”
Cooper and Smith were known as the “Bash Brothers and “The Legion of Doom.”
“They were both bookends on the offensive line,” Tuero said. “They’re great kids.”
“I can’t wait for it,” said the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Cooper. “I’ve been working out and getting ready since the season ended.”
“The funny thing about Cooper,” added Tuero, “is he’s never missed a day of school from kindergarten to 12th grade.”
Smith, a 6-foot-1, 260-pound defensive lineman, will play at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.
“It’s really going to help me in the future,” he said.
Olasehinde was a kicker as a freshman. Unhappy in that role, he quit after the season.
“Yomi” was a junior when Tuero became the head coach and recruited the 6-foot, 205-pound “Nigerian Nightmare” to play linebacker.
“He’s a beast,” Tuero said.
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