A Football Journey: Stephen Adegoke


Carmen Mandato, Tribune Content Agency

Former Houston Texans cornerback Keion Crossen back in a December 2020 matchup.

Clay Fordham, Sports Editor

Stephen Adegoke, the newest Houston Texans’ safeties coach, played safety for the Olympians football team during the 2014 season. The Snellville, Georgia product found himself far from home to begin his collegiate career, but he never backed down from an opportunity or a challenge.

Other junior colleges closer to his home could’ve been an ideal option, but there were limits to how many out-of-state players schools could accept. With that being said, those schools prioritized the big-time recruits they could spear.

Fast forward to Feb. 10, 2023 reports began to surface that the San Francisco 49ers’ quality control coach was accepting a role with the Texans to handle their safeties position group – coach Adegoke that is. 

Both his academic and athletic careers began here at Mesa a little less than a decade ago. To this day, he still carries fond memories of our college. Reflecting on his experience at Mesa, Adegoke said, “The people were great and the support staff was awesome. I’ll never have anything bad to say about Mesa. Everything there was awesome.”

After his time here in San Diego, Adegoke transferred to Mississippi State University to continue his education and career on the gridiron. Over the course of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he accumulated 14 total tackles with seven of them being solo. In Adegoke’s 15 games played, he also recorded one interception and a forced fumble. 

His success wasn’t shortened to the playing field, as he graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Following his time in Mississippi, he obtained his master’s degree a couple of years later in sports management from the University of Florida. 

The student-athlete life teaches many life lessons. It builds character for those who seek to mature through the process. “It was all about the end goal. It doesn’t matter what you’re pursuing in life. You don’t have to have it on a sticky note every day. Whatever subtle reminder you need or have is important to keep in the back of your mind,” Coach Adegoke said. His internal drive and mentality to forge his own path was his greatest strength. He continued, “I don’t want to say that’s what motivates me because I didn’t need an external factor. If you know what you want to do in the end, along the way there’s going to be hurdles and leaps to make it happen.”

With leaps and hurdles come sacrifices. Coach Adegoke never let optional socializing stand in the way of a mandatory task. He remarked, “Anybody could tell you they never saw me at a party or going out. They never saw me doing anything that wasn’t school, football, or track related. My life was sports and academics.”

Acknowledging how intense that sounds, he wanted to keep it simple in the fact that nothing was going to take away from his goals. To make it clear, coaching wasn’t at the forefront of his mind either.

On a New Year’s Day bowl matchup, he remembers his tight ends coach, Mark Hutson, walking down the halls in pregame. As he walked by, he casually let Adegoke know that if he ever became a head coach, again, he wanted him to help coach his defensive backs, he explained.

Thinking little of it, he carried on with his day because there were a lot of other important things taking place, the bowl game and end-of-semester activities. 

Following that bowl game, after the season, Adegoke looked to surgically repair his patellar tendon. While on crutches and with stitches in his leg, a phone call was received from a special someone who was interested if he wanted to come work as a graduate assistant at Austin Peay State University.

With zero hesitation, he was on board, and he also looked to rehab his knee with their training staff. 

His selfless mentality as a player helped him develop relationships and have his coaches gravitate toward him. This could be epitomized when Adegoke summarized a little bit of his playing career, as he said, “When it comes to sports, it’s a team thing always. At Mississippi State, there weren’t a lot of stats for me because the guy who was starting, Jonathan Abrams, was a first-round player. For me, I had to know my role. I started on all special teams and played in certain packages. That was my job, and I took pride in it.”

His time at Austin Peay was short, but it provided a lot of insight and valuable experience. From there, he was led to the opportunity to attend Florida for graduate school and serve as an assistant for the football team. The Gators’ head coach at the time, Dan Mullen, was his previous head coach from MSU. The connections that he had built had begun paving pathways. 

After his Florida days, Adegoke joined Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines holding the same position he did at UF as a graduate assistant. Within three years of the last game that he played in, he made it on to his third University assisting as a coach. 

Continuing the same trend, but taking it a step further, Adegoke spent his time this last year as a member of the 49ers. His first full NFL season couldn’t have come in a better situation. He said, “I was with a first-class organization. There’s nothing like being with a great team. The York family (49ers owners) are a tremendous group of people.” He continued, “That was a blessing, and I was very fortunate.”

All great things, in Adegoke’s case, must come to an end, but that only means a new journey is just beginning. This past NFL offseason saw the Texans hire the 49ers’ defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans as their new head coach. In the process of putting together his coaching staff, Ryans reached out to someone familiar – his former quality control coach Adegoke. 

He gladly accepted the offer. 

“It didn’t take much of a recruiting pitch,” Adegoke said. He discussed how it transpired through a conversation with the 49ers’ head coach, as he said, “I talked with the head coach, Kyle Shanahan, in San Francisco about it before I left, and he said himself that he was in a similar position. He was with the Texans, and at 28 years old he got bumped up to the offensive coordinator. He told me if it’s a growth position and you feel like it’s the right thing because you’re already with a great guy for a head coach, you should take it.”

Admiring the timeline of where coach Adegoke started, it’s safe to say his name is rapidly ascending in the football world at the highest level. In building a successful career, his concern has been and will always be focused on the present. 

He said, “As far as climbing the coaching ladder, I don’t think of it that way. I just look at it as a learning opportunity.”

There’s much to credit when it comes to discipline, focus, and hard work in his story. When it comes to creating a better future for yourself, it starts with your actions in the present. 

Coach Adegoke knows that better than anyone. When talking about what’s next in store, he said, “I’m just focused on work and getting better at my job.” That same train of thought is why he succeeded here as a student-athlete at Mesa College and beyond. Step-by-step, brick-by-brick, every journey has a beginning.