Odukoya will participate in the NFL International Pathway program

NEW YORK (EMUEagles.com) – University of Eastern Michigan tight end Thomas odukoya (Almere, The Netherlands-Helen Parkhurst-Garden City CC) is one of 13 athletes from nine countries competing for a spot on the NFL’s International Player Pathway program.

The league announced on Tuesday, Jan.11, which athletes will begin training in the United States in February before having a chance to train for team scouts in March, with the hope of being signed as as a free agent. Players can also be picked or assigned to a practice squad in any of the eight divisions of the NFL for the 2022 season. Odukoya is still draft-eligible even with this opportunity.

Established in 2017, the program aims to provide elite international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster. This season, two players who entered the NFL through the PPI program, Jakob Johnson of the New England Patriots and Jordan Mailata of the Philadelphia Eagles, recorded their 1,000th career snap. They join the Buffalo Bills’ Efe Obada in PPI players to reach this milestone in their NFL career.

Building on the program’s success to date, the NFL has broadened its search for international talent, hosting combinations in England and Mexico last October with 56 players from 16 countries participating. The league has identified the best athletes from nine countries who will compete for a place in the program.

“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 COO. International. “We are delighted to have players from all over the world competing for a place in the 2022 program.”

One of the eight divisions of the NFL, which will be chosen at random, will receive international players selected for the 2022 program if they are not signed with free agent contracts. At the end of training camp, each player will be eligible for an exemption from the International Player Training Team with their assigned team. This grants the affected team an additional member of the training team. Under certain parameters, players can also be elevated to the active roster during the regular season.

Considered one of the nation’s most prolific blocking tight ends, Odukoya was one of the leaders, on and off the field, for Eastern Michigan. Captain of the 2021 team and former wearer of the No.2 “Deuce” shirt, Odukoya has been impressive in his senior campaign. A multiple watchlist recipient for the Campbell Trophy, Wuerffel Trophy and Mackey Award, Odukoya has 13 receptions for 130 yards this season. He scored a touchdown in the EMU game at Bowling Green on Oct. 23 and has started every game for the Eagles this season. This season, Odukoya secured a place in the All-MAC Third Team.

Odukoya, who will be in action this weekend at the Hula Bowl, is the first EMU student-athlete to participate in the event since 1997.

Players participating in the program:

Player Position Height Weight Country Current team
Leonel Misangumukini DL 6’3 258 Austria Vienna Vikings
Leandro Santos de Fonseca OL 6’5 270 Brazil Remo Lions
Souleymane Karamoko Comic 6’1 195 France Laval University
Marcel Dabo Comic 6’0 208 Germany Stuttgart surge
Ralfs Ruins DL 6’6 325 Latvia University of Liberty
Hector Zepeda Hernandez OL 6’4 285 Mexico Monterrey Technological
Kehinde Hassan Oginni YOU 6’5 215 Nigeria the upprise
Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka OL 6’7 309 Nigeria the upprise
Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi OL 6’6 298 Nigeria the upprise
Thomas odukoya YOU 6’6 260 Netherlands University of Eastern Michigan
Adedayo Odeleye DL 6’5 272 UK Berlin thunder
Ayo Oyelola KG 5’11 217 UK Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Bamidele Olaseni OL 6’7 330 UK University of Utah

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