2024 NFL International Player Pathway spotlight: Jotham Russell, DL, Australia

The NFL has seen several Rugby and Aussie rules football converts make the jump from down under. However, most of them have been kickers or punters. The latest non-punter talent hoping to crack into the NFL is a big, athletic, promising talent in former rugby standout Jotham Russell.

Russell takes aim at the NFL  for a second time NFL through the NFL International Player Pathway Program as he was one of the 16 players from around the world selected to compete for their spots on an NFL squad.

Instituted in 2017, the NFL International Player Pathway program aims to give elite international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.

Since its inception, 37 international players have signed with NFL teams (allocated, drafted, and or signed as a free agent), with 18 IPP athletes currently on 2023 NFL rosters.

Five players – Jordan Mailata, Jakob Johnson, Efe Obada, Sammis Reyes and David Bada – have reached active rosters with the Philadelphia Eagles, Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders, since the program began in 2017.

Russell is one of the young prospects in this year’s NFL IPP program at only 20 years old, at 6’5, 245 pounds Russell has a large frame that could fill out to be a high-level defensive lineman in the NFL.

The Australian with Nigerian roots has been a standout rugby player since picking up the sport at the age of 10. Russell’s athletic prowess didn’t go unnoticed as he joined the Brisbane Broncos Elite Development program as a teenager. Following two seasons there, Russell went on to play for the Currumbin Eagles, before moving on to the Tweed Seagulls Colts U21 team.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and