Nigerian-born Green Bay Packers LB Kenneth Odumegwu shares his opinion about his experience playing in his first-ever NFL game.Kenneth Odumegwu was at a loss for words, following his first game for per Packers.
“It was a surreal moment for me. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even say ‘thank you’ to coach…That ball is gonna be with me for the rest of my life”.
Odumegwu is Packers’ first international player placed through the program. He was discovered through NFL Africa Touchdown Camp in Ghana and made the IPPP after performing at the NFL International Combine in London in 2022.
Before arriving in Green Bay in May, Odumegwu spent 10 weeks training at IMG Academy in Florida.
The 22-year-old was a soccer player first growing up in Nigeria, then a basketball player once he grew too tall.
His remarkable journey began with Osi Umenyiora, the former All-Pro defensive end for the Giants. Umenyiora, 41, employs scouts in Nigeria and across Africa as part of his initiative, The Uprise, to give athletes from the continent an opportunity to make the NFL.
His scouts discovered Odumegwu on a basketball court while he was participating in Educational Basketball, a premier player development program in Africa.
They were intrigued by Odumegwu’s size and physique, with a hulking 6-foot-6 and 259 pounds, and then invited him to train in Nigeria with other athletes they discovered across the country.
The best of that crop, which again included the new Packers defensive lineman, advanced to the NFL International Combine in London, an event that hosted 38 players. Only 13 were chosen for this year’s International Player Pathway program, which helps give athletes worldwide the chance to make an NFL roster.
Those 13 players spent 10 weeks in early 2023 training at IMG Academy in Florida before participating in their own pro day at the University of South Florida. Just eight of the 13 were randomly distributed to the eight teams in the NFC North and AFC West.
That’s how the Packers landed their first-ever player from the IPP in Odumegwu, whose winding, unlikely path from those basketball courts in Nigeria to Northeast Wisconsin has left him in awe.
SOURCE: The Athletic, ioinews