IRVINGTON, N.J. (BVM) – Adon Shuler has been making history at Irvington High School. The Notre Dame football commit helped the Blue Knights win their first state championship in program history last year. He’ll make history again later this year when he graduates early from Irvington.
Verbally committing to Notre Dame, winning a state title and graduating early from high school are all amazing feats for a young man to accomplish but Shuler focuses on not being complacent.
“I do something, I celebrate it for a day or so or not even,” Shuler said. “I just go back to work because that’s all I know.”
That work is never done. Even when he was taking the time to do the interview for this article, Shuler was in between summer school classes. They are classes that he has been taking to ensure he graduates early.
The impeccable work ethic that has turned Shuler into a four-star safety for the Class of 2023. Last season with Irvington, Shuler had 80 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions, two pick sixes and two forced fumbles. His leadership on defense played a huge role in a tight 19-14 win over Northern Highlands in the NJSIAA state championship game.
“It felt really good; that was the first time in school history for the football team to win the state championship,” Shuler said.
For the 6-foot, 197–pound safety, it’s all a part of the plan. He grew up dreaming of accomplishing the things he is doing right now. Sometimes it does catch him by surprise, realizing that he is living those dreams out because he always gets back to work. Shuler knows he’s not just doing it for himself.
“My family,” Adon Shuler said about his motivation and the reason he works hard. “I have two younger brothers and a younger sister, just seeing them and knowing that I have people that look up to me and live with me everyday.”
His mother played sports and so did his father. Shuler’s dad played football at Irvington as an offensive lineman and Shuler grew up hearing people talk about his dad’s playing days. They told him about how his dad was an offensive lineman but didn’t move like one and that he was a great player. Those stories motivated him to get into football and fall in love with it. Along with that, Shuler had the ability to watch great players that have been developed in New Jersey.
“Jersey kids can play football, too,” Adon Shuler said.
Shuler watched Jabrill Peppers – a Michigan alum who is currently with the New England Patriots – and his own mentor Josh Evans – an Irvington and Florida alum who spent time in the NFL – while they were in high school. Seeing them succeed and accomplish what they did made him want to go DI and then make it to the NFL, too.
“I got to the sixth grade when Jabrill Peppers, that was really the peak of his high school career, so I watched him, I studied him,” Shuler said. “Probably around sixth grade was when I was like, ‘Yeah this is what I really want to do.’”
He has become the next in a long line of great New Jersey high school football players to come out of the state. That realization has added to his motivation.
“People used to tell me to go watch Jabrill high school highlights and stuff like that and now people are going to do the same thing, ‘Go watch Adon high school highlight tapes,’” Shuler said.
His parents helped him get to practice, making sure he followed his schedule and stayed on top of his class work. His dad has coached both him and his younger brothers. Shuler’s dad would push him to be his best and his mom would do the same but also make sure he never pushed it too far.
Shuler found his home on defense and specifically at the safety position. Originally a cornerback when he was a freshman, he quickly realized that good corners don’t get the football a lot. Shuler loves to attack the ball so he made the switch to safety where that aggressiveness has allowed him to maximize his ability.
By his sophomore year, Adon Shuler received his first offer following the second game of the season. Then during quarantine, his recruitment went to the next level. He spent that time training and honing his skills. Shuler’s high school coach, Coach Ashley “Smoke” Pierre, is well connected and after seeing the work Shuler was putting in, helped with the recruiting process.
“I talked to them at least three or four times before I even got the offer so that’s when I knew they’re really serious,” Shuler said. “They’re not just a school that’s going to come in, offer me and then build a relationship. They built the relationship before they even offered me and that’s something that I really liked.”
Shuler verbally committed to Notre Dame football last August after his time talking with coaches and his family.
“It’s about me but it’s also about my family so if they love something, I love it too,” Shuler said.
Their opinion means the world to him and his father fell in love with Notre Dame after their first visit to the campus.
“My father loved it and when we got back home he couldn’t stop talking about it,” Shuler said.
Along with that, the people and the fans at Notre Dame have left a lasting impression on Shuler. It’s a program with a rich tradition. The fan base is all over the place and Shuler has found out that there are a lot of Fighting Irish fans in New Jersey.
All of it has made Shuler even more confident in his decision even though he has continued to receive offers from other big–time programs. Alabama, Georgia and Florida State are just a few of the teams that have recruited him since his verbal commitment to Notre Dame football.
“I feel like getting offers from those schools puts a different status on your name…It just shows the improvement in your game,” Shuler said.
The improvement has been ongoing. Shuler is the epitome of a student of the game and a film junkie. He watches it all the time. It has given him the ability to read offenses and he has taken the skills that other safeties have and has added those skills to his own game.
With one more season of high school football and a trip to the All-American Bowl left, those skills will be on full display and hopefully his skills will help the Blue Knights try to repeat as state champions.
“The target is bigger,” Shuler said. “Everybody expects us not to win so we just have to prove everybody wrong.”