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Nigerian linebacker Kenneth Odumegwu grateful for his opportunity in Green Bay

Nigerian linebacker Kenneth Odumegwu grateful for his opportunity in Green Bay

GREEN BAY – Walking into Lambeau Field for the first time, Kenneth Odumegwu did his best to stay poised around his new Packers teammates.

However, the gravity of the moment hit the Nigerian linebacker as soon as he put on his green-and-gold jersey, the culmination of a year-long journey from his home in Anambra State in southeast Nigeria to the National Football League.

“I was like literally shaking,” said Odumegwu following Green Bay’s two-day rookie minicamp. “But I had people around. I was just trying to play it cool. But in my mind, I was like … I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”

Over the span of a year, the 6-foot-6, 259-pound linebacker went from not knowing what the line of scrimmage is to one of the prized pupils of the NFL International Pathway Program.

Established in 2017, the IPP provides elite international athletes with the opportunity to compete at the NFL through skill development and training in hope of earning a spot on a roster. This year, eight teams from the NFC North and AFC West were chosen to be allocated a player from the program.

Odumegwu (Oh-Do-MAY-Goo) grew up playing soccer but switched to basketball after a significant growth spurt. His conversion to football came through Educational Basketball, a program founded in 2015 in Lagos, Nigeria, that’s touted as Africa’s first premier select player development program.

Odumegwu is one of three Educational Basketball alums to be allocated this year to NFL rosters through the International Player Pathway, along with David Agoha (Las Vegas) and Jason Godrick (Kansas City).

“I got this call from scouts. They were like, ‘OK, we’ve seen you. We’ve seen your size. We’ve seen your physique. We want you to come try out and work out with us,'” Odumegwu recalled. “They called me. I went to the tryout and they were like, OK, we feel you can do this, so I told my dad, I told my mom about it and they were like, ‘Well, it’s up to you to do what you want to do.’ Something in my heart just felt like this is very possible.”

Given his prototypical size and athleticism, Odumegwu received an invite to former NFL player Osi Umenyiora’s NFL Africa Touchdown Camp in Accra, Ghana, where he was assigned to defensive end and captured defensive Most Valuable Player honors.

That opportunity earned Odumegwu one of 38 spots at the NFL International Combine in London last October, just days before Green Bay played the New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Prior to being allocated to the Packers,…

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