Meet the NFL prospect that has Umenyiora ‘afraid’-News

Emmanuel Okoye grew up with football at his feet and basketball close to his heart, but it turns out he was made for the gridiron.

The 18-year-old Nigerian didn’t break into the American football scene until 12 months ago, but has made the leap to the NFL after being recruited by the University of Tennessee.

His journey to Knoxville has been a whirlwind. He was scouted at a basketball training camp in Lagos, and was given the chance to impress at the NFL Africa camp in Ghana before being whisked away to the NFL’s Academy in rural Leicestershire.

“It happened very quickly,” Okoye told BBC East Midlands Today.

“I just had to take it in. I can’t be too surprised, because I might get knocked out.”

Two-time Super Bowl star Osi Umenyiora, who immigrated from Nigeria to the United States at the age of 14, was instrumental in Okoye’s remarkable emergence.

‘He’s on a completely different level’

Umenyiora first saw the social media posts of the youngster, who is 196cm (6ft 4in) tall, weighs 104kg (16st 5lb) and has a 7ft (2.13m) wingspan and invited the youngster to the talent show Uprise American Football. a well-known camp that oversees Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja.

Okoye has been impressing since then, getting playing time as a defensive end and on special teams.

At the NFL Academy Combine – a testing ground for potential future stars – he produced incredible results to underline his potential.

His vertical jump of 45.5in (116cm) and his long jump of 11ft 3ins (3.43m) – a forward jump from a squatting position – both would be. The NFL combineexternal link records of players at his position and are the two main reasons why Umenyiora sees a frighteningly big future for the youngster.

“I think he’s probably faster than a lot of guys I’ve seen even in the NFL and they’re crazy runners,” said Umenyiora, who played defensive end for the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons.

“He’s at a different level than he’s ever been and his numbers show it.

“The skills they have are second to none and once they start training properly and eating right they will only reach the next level.

“I’m afraid of people.”

Emmanuel Okoye has been involved in the game for one year

It took only three games at the Loughborough University-based NFL Academy to turn a novice into a highly sought-after prospect, with the University of South Carolina, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt University among Division 1 colleges to make offers before Okoye committed to Tennessee.

“There are many talented athletes, but I have to be honest and say that there are not many talented athletes like him,” said Umenyiora.

“Even though he doesn’t know what he’s doing, you see what will separate him from everyone else.”

Okoye smiles when he hears Umenyiora’s high praise, but remains focused on turning his incredible one-year rise into a life-changing and career-building opportunity.

“I know he has a lot of confidence in me,” Okoye said of Umenyiora.

“The Academy is a great place, a great program to give you the foundation and skills you need to move on to the next level.

“I just need to keep going now.”

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