Players from 9 countries have been selected to compete for a spot in the 2022 NFL International Player Pathway Program
Graphic: Igor Lazarevic
Thirteen athletes from nine countries have been selected to compete for a place in the 2022 International Player Pathway Program that NFL announced today.
The program, which was launched in 2017, aims to give top international athletes the opportunity to participate in the NFL Level up, improve their skills, and eventually earn a spot on an NFL squad. This season two players have entered the NFL through the IPP program, Jakob Johnson from the New England Patriots and Jordan Mailata from the Philadelphia Eagles, has recorded her 1000that Career snapshot. They join Efe Obada from the Buffalo bills in IPP players to get this milestone in their NFL Career.
Given the success of the program to date, the NFL expanded his search for international talent and hosted combines in England and Mexico last October with 56 players from 16 countries. The league has identified top athletes from nine countries competing for a place in the program.
The players start training in United States next month and have the opportunity to showcase their talents NFL Club scouts in March hoping to be signed up as a free agent or selected for assignment to a training squad for the next season International Player Path Program.
One of NFLs eight randomly selected divisions will receive the international players selected for the 2022 program if they do not sign free agent contracts. At the end of the training camp, every player and his assigned team are entitled to a special permit for international player training. This gives the assigned team an additional training team member. Under certain parameters, players can also be included in the active squad during the regular season.
“The International Player Pathway program is an important part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that the best athletes in the world play in the NFL, regardless of their country of origin,” said Damani Leech, NFL chief operating officer of International. “We are pleased that players from all over the world are fighting for a place in the 2022 program.”
Players participating in the program:
|Leonel Misangumukini||DL||6’3||258||Austria||Viennese Vikings|
|Leandro Santos da Fonseca||OIL||6’5||270||Brazil||Remo lions|
|Souleymane Karamoko||DB||6’1||195||France||Laval University|
|Marcel Dabo||DB||6’0||208||Germany||Stuttgart wave|
|Ralfs Rusins||DL||6’6||325||Latvia||University of Freedom|
|Hector Zepeda Hernandez||OIL||6’4||285||Mexico||Tecnológico de Monterrey|
|Kehinde Hassan Oginni||TE||6’5||215||Nigeria||The riot|
|Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka||OIL||6’7||309||Nigeria||The riot|
|Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi||OIL||6’6||298||Nigeria||The riot|
|Thomas Odukoya||TE||6’6||260||Netherlands||Eastern Michigan University|
|Adedayo Odeleye||DL||6’5||272||United Kingdom||Berlin thunder|
|Ayo Oyelola||LB||5’11||217||United Kingdom||Winnipeg Blue Bomber|
|Bamidele Olaseni||OIL||6’7||330||United Kingdom||University of Utah|
Notable participants in the International Player Pathway program currently on NFL cadres:
Jakob Johnson, Defender (Germany), New England Patriots
Johnson began his football career in his youth in his hometown of Stuttgart, Germany, where he played for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League before moving to Jacksonville, Florida. He played one season of high school football in the United States and was recruited to continue his career at the University of Tennessee. Johnson returned to the Scorpions in 2018. Then in 2019 he was assigned to the New England Patriots through the International Player Pathway program. In Johnson’s case, the Patriots waived the exemption for the International Player Practice Squad and hired him as a regular member of their training team, giving them the opportunity to promote him. He was added to the active list of Patriots on September 21, 2019. Johnson appeared in four regular season games with three starts in 2019 and made his first career reception for five yards in Week 5. He stayed with New England for the 2020 season, playing all 16 games with 11 starts as a full-back, scoring his first career touchdown in Week 2. The touchdown catch was the first regular season touchdown to be scored by a participant in the International Pathway program. Johnson was re-signed by the Patriots for the 2021 season and played with six starts in all 17 games. It remains an integral part of New England’s run-game, recording over 1,000 career snapshots.
Jordan Mailata, Tackle (Australia), Philadelphia Eagles
In 2017 Mailata took part in the International Player Pathway Program and trained at the IMG Academy. The Samoan-born Australian former professional rugby league player of the South Sydney Rabbitohs was then drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles (making him ineligible for the International Player Pathway program) and thus became the youngest player in the world list of eagles. After Mailata had spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons in the injured reserve and in the training team, Mailata experienced a breakout campaign in 2020 with starts in both left and right duels. He paved the way for an offense that ranked third in rushing average (5.0 yards per rush) and ninth in rushing yards per game (126.7). After the 2020 season, Mailata was named left starter and signed a four-year contract extension to stay with the Eagles. In 2021, Mailata launched all 14 games it played in and dwarfed 1,000 career snaps.
Efe Obada, Defensive End (UK), Buffalo Bills
Obada grew up in London after coming from the Netherlands at the age of 10. He signed as a free agent for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors. After a preseason and training team with the Cowboys, Obada spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons before joining the Carolina Panthers training team as part of the 2017 International Player Pathway program. In 2018, Obada became the first player in the NFL International Pathway program to field a 53-man squad and also in his first regular season game (3rd sack, one-interception performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. After 50 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, three passes defended, two fumble recoverys and one forced fumble in 42 games (2017-2020) with the Panthers, Obada joined the Bills as a free agent for the 2021 season. In 2021, Obada played in 10 games with a start, recording 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and one pass defended.
Sammis Reyes, Tight End (Chile), Washington Football Team
Reyes grew up in Santiago, Chile, where he was a multi-athlete. At the age of 13, he moved to the United States to attend high school. He attended Hawaii for a semester before moving to Palm Beach State Junior College to study basketball. After these positions, Reyes joined the men’s basketball program in Tulane (2016-17) and played for the Chilean national basketball team (2017). After a successful basketball career, Reyes applied for an NFL squad spot in 2020 through the NFL’s International Player Pathway program. Reyes, who had never played soccer, secured a spot on Washington’s 2021 roster and became the first Chile-born player in the NFL. He appeared in his first regular season game in week 5 against New Orleans and made his first start in week 11 against Carolina.
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