America’s favorite pastime, the National Football League (NFL) is now in its one hundred and third season. One thing that is beginning to attract the attention of football fans and pundits alike is the overwhelming influence of players of Nigerian descent in the NFL. As the 103rd season nears that fever-pitch playoff time, when teams are fighting for playoff berth and when men become separated from the boys, we wanted to dedicate our December edition to these Nigerian difference makers in the NFL.
While we focus on the current players on the NFL, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the man who paved the way for Nigerians in the NFL. Christian Okoye, (the Nigerian Nightmare) was the first Nigerian to play in the NFL. Okoye arrived in the United States at the age of 21, and since “American” football was not a pastime in Nigeria, he had never played the game and did not even get to play it in America until he was 23. But when Okoye rumbled into the football scene, the world took notice. Known for his powerful running style and the ability to break tackles, Okoye won the NFL rushing title in the 1989 season on his way to a legendary career in the league.
Our interns Jamie and Ezichi worked very hard to put this piece together. We would like to thank them for their hard work. They did a fantastic job putting together a publication you will not see anywhere else. So, as you read this edition, we ask you to share it with friends and family. Enjoy!
NIGERIANS IN THE NFL
Joseph Ossai plays the defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals. Ossai played college football for the Texas Longhorns and was drafted by the Bengals in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft. Ossai was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to the United States in 2010 at 12 years old. He wears number 58 on the Bengals team.
Hakeem Adeniji plays for the Cincinnati Bengals as an offensive tackle. He played college football at the University of Kansas. Before he came to Kansas, Adeniji had committed to playing for the United States Airforce Academy but failed to get medical clearance for cashew allergy. He attended high school at Garland High School, Texas.
Ayokunmi Christopher Oluwaseun Banjo Plays safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Banjo, who Jacksonville Jaguars drafted as a free agent in 2003, played college football at SMU. He also played for the Saints and the Green Bay Packers.
Victor Dimukeje plays outside linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals. Before coming to the Cardinals, he played college football at Duke University. The Cardinals drafted him in the 6th round of the 2021 NFL draft.
Olamide Zaccheaus is a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. He played college football at the University of Virginia. Before joining the Atlanta Falcons, Olamide was the second-team All-Atlantic Conference (ACC) after catching 85 passes for 895 yards and five touchdowns.
Chuma Edoga plays for the Atlanta Falcons as an offensive tackle. Edoga played college football at USC and was drafted by the New York Jets in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft. Edoga started the 2021 football season as a backup offensive tackle.
Germain Ifedi played college at Texas A&M and was drafted by the Seattle Sea Hawks in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. Ifedi attended West High School. In high school, Ifedi was a three-sport athlete playing Football, basketball, and running track. Cedric Ogbuehi is another football with a Nigerian heritage who attended Texas A&M University.
David Ojabo was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. He moved to Aberdeen, Scotland, with his family in 2007. Upon moving to the United States at 17, Ojabo attended Blair Academy and the University of Michigan. Currently, Ojabo plays outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.
Odafe Oweh plays for the Baltimore Ravens as an outside linebacker. He played college football for Penn State University and was drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. At Penn State, he was known by his middle name Jason because people had trouble pronouncing Odafe. When asked why he switched, he said people should learn to pronounce Odafe.
Ikem Ekwonu – Ikemefuna Patrick “Ikey” Ekwonu plays for the Carolina Panthers as an offensive tackle. He played college football at North Carolina State University, where he won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) IN 2021. Ekwonu was sixth overall by the Panthers in the 2022 NFL draft.
Joel Iyieguniwe plays for the Carolina Panthers as a linebacker. Before coming to the Panthers, Iyiegbuniwe played for the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks. He played college football at Western Kentucky University. A knee injury ended his season in 2014, but he came in 2015 and played in all 14 Western Kentucky games, recording 19 tackles and one sack.
David Njoku plays tight end for the Cleveland Browns. He played college football at the University of Miami. Talking of big Nigerian families, Njoku is one of nine children born to parents who emigrated to the United States. While in high school at Cedar Grove High School, he had 76 receptions for 1,794 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Kene Nwangwu plays running back for the Minnesota Vikings. Nwangwu was drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft. As a rookie, he signed a multi-million-dollar contract with the Vikings. His first NFL touchdown was a 98-yard kick-off for a touchdown versus the Baltimore Ravens. Three weeks later, he ran for a 99-yard-kick off touchdown versus San Francisco 49ers. Then, on November 24, 2022, he repeated a 97-yard-kick-off touchdown versus the Patriots.
Olisaemeka Udoh was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Benjamin and Rita Udoh. He attended Terry Sanford High School and later attended Elon University. Udoh was named to the CAA Football Academy All-Conference Team in 2015 and 2016. Currently, he plays for the Minnesota Vikings as a Guard.
Esezi Otomewo was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and attended Ben Davis High School. He played college football at the University of Minnesota. While in college, Otomewo was nicknamed the “Nigerian Nightmare.” The Vikings drafted him in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. He plays defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings.
Derrick Nnadi plays for the Kansas City Chiefs as a defensive tackle. Nnadi attended Corporate Landing Middle School and Ocean Lake High School in Virginia. In addition, Nnadi played defensive tackle at Florida State University. The Kansas City Chief selected Nnadi in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft. In 2019, he won the Superbowl with the Chiefs and celebrated by paying the adoption fees for all the adoptable dogs at the Kansas City shelter.
David Onyemata was born in Lagos. He graduated from Rainbow College before moving to Winnipeg in 2011 to attend the University of Manitoba. In 2015, Onyemata won the J.P. Metra’s Trophy as the top-down lineman in CIS Football. The New Orleans Saints drafted Onyemata in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft. With this draft, he became the first player from the University of Manitoba ever selected for the NFL draft.
Jermaine Eluemunor attended college at Texas A&M, where he played Football as an offensive tackle. Eluemunor moved to the United States with his father at 14. Eluemunor became interested in American Football after watching the 2007 Miami Dolphins – New York Giants game on television. Currently, he plays offensive tackle for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Joshua Ezeudu plays football guard for the New York Giants. He played college football at North Carolina University. The New York Giants drafted Ezeudu in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft. He grew up in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where he attended Archer High School.
Amen Ogbongbemiga plays for the Los Angeles Chargers. Ogbongbemiga was born in Lagos. His family moved to Houston, Texas, in 2003, but he attended high school at Notre Dame, Calgary, before moving back to the United States. He attended college at Oklahoma State University and joined the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021 as an undrafted free agent.
Jeremiah Ojimaojo Attaochu was born in Ibadan and moved to the United States with his family at eight. He now plays as an outside linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Los Angeles Chargers drafted Attaochu in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. Before the draft, he played college football at Georgia Tech. He was also a member of the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, and Denver Broncos.
Chukwuerika Eric Ezukanma plays for the Miami Dolphins as a wide receiver. Ezukanma attended high school at Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth, Texas. He also attended Texas Tech, and in the middle of the 2020 football season, he was added to the watch list for the Fred Biletnikoff Award. The Miami Dolphins drafted Ezukanma in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft.
Noah Igbinoghene comes from a family of athletes. His parents, Festus and Faith Igbinoghene were Olympic athletes in track and field. He attended Hewitt-Trussville High School in Alabama and later went to college at Auburn University. The Miami Dolphins drafted Igbinoghene in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, where he plays cornerback for the team.
Sam Ehi Eguavoen plays for the Miami Dolphins as a linebacker. Before coming to the NFL, Eguavoen played in Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins on January 7, 2019. He attended Garland Lakeview Centennial High School and later went to college at Texas Tech.
Samson Nnamka Ebukam is a defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers. He played college football at Eastern Washington, where the Los Angeles Rams drafted him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft. Ebukam was born in Onitsha and moved to the United States at nine. He attended David Douglas High School in Portland, Oregon.
Charles Omenihu plays defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers. Omenihu attended Rowlett High School in Rowlett, Texas, and Texas University. Drafted by the Houston Texans in 2019, Omenihu now plays for the 49ers on a trade that will give the Texans a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Michael Onwenu plays for the New England Patriots as a football guard. He attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan. Onwenu later attended Michigan State University, where New England drafted him as Guard. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft. In 2021, Onwenu finished the season as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL.
Joshua – “Josh” Uche is a linebacker for the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots drafted Uche in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. Uche attended the University of Michigan on a football scholarship. Before college, Uche attended Columbus High School in Columbus, Florida. On October 31, he played one of his most memorable games with a sack on Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens.
Uchenna Nwosu plays for the Seattle Seahawks as an outside linebacker. He played college football at the University of South California and Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California. The Los Angeles Chargers drafted Nwosu in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft. On March 17, 2022, Nwosu signed a multi-million-dollar contract with the Seattle Seahawks.
Christopher James “C.J.” Uzomah is a tight end for the New York Jets. Before coming to the New York Jets, Uchenna played for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals drafted him in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft. Uchenna played college football at Auburn University from 2011 to 2014. He also played high school football at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia.
Cedric Ogbuehi attended Allen High School in Allen, Texas, and Texas A&M, where he played college football. Ogbuehi started his professional football career with the Cincinnati Bengals as a first-round draft in 2015. Since then, he has played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Houston Texans. His parents are Chris and Kelly Ogbuehi.
Olakunle Fatukasi plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent and plays middle linebacker. He signed with the Buccaneers in 2022. Fatukasi comes from a family of sports. He has two brothers who play high-level Football. His younger brother Tunde previously played for Rutgers and now plays at Bowling Green. His older brother Folorunso played Football for the University of Connecticut.
Larry Ogunjobi is of Yoruba descent. Ogunjobi plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a defensive end. Before coming to Steelers, Ogunjobi played for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. He attended Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, North Carolina, and played college football at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Coming out of college, Ogunjobi was ranked as the 15th-best defensive tackle by CBSSports.com.
Chukwuma Okafor plays offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was born in Ibadan and lived in South Africa and Botswana before coming to the United States in 2010. Okafor played college football at Western Michigan and high school football at Southfield High School in Southfield, Michigan, and was in the First Team All-American in 2017.
Efe Obada was born in Nigeria but moved to the Netherlands at age 10. Obada and his sister were trafficked into England and became homeless as soon as they arrived in London. Obada is the first player from the European football league to be part of the NFL. Before coming to play for the Washington Commanders, Obada played for the London Warriors, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Buffalo Bills.
Chigozie Charlton “Chig” Okonkwo plays tight end for the Tennessee Titans. He played college football at the University of Maryland and attended Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, Georgia. The Titans drafted Okonkwo in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft. He made his NFL debut in week one against the New York Giants.
Joshua Elekwachi Kalu plays defensive back for the Tennessee Titans. Kalu was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Before returning to the Titans in 2022, Kalu played for the New York Giants in 2021. He attended Alief Taylor High School in Houston, Texas, and the University of Nebraska.
Nelson Efemehule Agholor is a wide receiver with the New England Patriots. Agholor was born in Lagos but moved to the United States at five years old. He attended Berkley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida, and later went to the University of Southern California. Before coming to the New England Patriots, Agholor played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Las Vegas Raiders.