UK linebacker Ayo Oyelola makes CFL debut with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Global linebacker Ayo Oyelola made his long-awaited debut this past weekend as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers wrapped up their regular season with a one-point loss against the Calgary Stampeders. After a long season of being on the sideline, the international rookie was excited to see his first taste of professional football.

Oyelola keeps a global perspective on what was a vital step in the early part of his pro career:

“It was an amazing experience, I felt really blessed. As I was out on the field, all I could think about was, that I was doing it for all the players in Europe grinding for a dream most people think is impossible. That’s what was giving me energy. This is just the beginning. I aim to go a lot higher and keep on grinding.”

The young Brit has spent most of the season in Winnipeg developing on the team’s practice squad until he finally made his debut this past Saturday. The 5’11”, 213-pound linebacker had a quiet debut in the game against the Stampeders, playing mostly special teams and recording no statistics.

The 23-year-old Essex native came to the Blue Bombers by way of the 2021 CFL Global Draft, where he was chosen 22nd overall. The former Nottingham University Law student spent the early part of 2021 training at IMG Academy as part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program.

Oyelola caught the attention of NFL scouts as a standout player for Nottingham University in the UK’s college football ranks. The young Brit never played American football before finding NFL highlights on YouTube and eventually his university team. Before strapping up the pads, Oyelola played soccer, rugby, and ran track.

Now the Blue Bombers and Oyelola look forward to making a run at the Grey Cup as the 11-3 Blue Bombers areto prove themselves in the post-season.

Read more about Ayo Oyelola’s football journey

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football