Austria’s Leonel Misangumkini: Seizing the NFL’s opportunity

Dacia Vienna Vikings defensive end Leonel Misangumukini has never a person to miss out on an opportunity.

This past season in the Austrian Football League championship series, he scooped up a fumble by the Graz Giants quarterback and raced 48 yards for a key touchdown.

Last week, he was given another opportunity, this time by the NFL when he was picked for the International Player Pathway Program. He intends to take full advantage of that too.

The 6’5′, 230 pound 23-year old was superb in helping the Vikings capture their best of five Austrian championship series this past summer in the pandemic altered season. And although Misangumukini has only been a part of the Vikings football program since 2016, he has learned quickly. The lean, athletic defensive end has showed true commitment to the game, improving bit by bit every season.

Leonel Misangumukini #7 getting ready for next play Photo: Peter Kramberger

Vienna Vikings Head Coach Chris Calaycay has watched his development and is impressed:

“Misangumukini keeps getting better each and every season. He is a late bloomer when it comes to defensive line play but the tools are there. We have seen great steps in practice and the short time that we had this season due to Covid, Leo showed what he can do. He is still football young, has potential, has the measureables and will use this opportunity to get even better.”

The NFL’s international scouts obviously saw the same potential as his coaches in Vienna did in the young Austrian. His short 2020 season was very productive, as he collected 2.5 tackles for a loss for loss and a defensive touchdown in only three games.

Misangumukini is aware of what it means for him to be selected:

“I feel very honored and blessed, I am very happy. It’s an honor to represent Österreich, hopefully I can push other young Austrians to pursue their dreams of playing in the NFL .”

The newest Austrian NFL prospect is a true testament to the country’s plan to develop domestic players. Misangumukini started out playing quarterback and receiver for the Danube Dragons youth programs. During his youth career, Misangumukini was also part of the Austrian national team that won the 2015 European Junior Championships. As a member of the Vikings, he switched from playing quarterback and receiver to defensive end.

“It was a long and hard process. Always learning different techniques new plays etc. But the good thing is I prepare like a Quarterback for games. That means I watch a ton of film. I took some little things from playing all those positions, but I’m happy to say that I’m a defensive end, this position suits me the best.”

Misangumukini will be joining his teammate from the Vikings, tight end Berhard Seikovits, who will be participating in the NFL’s International Pathway Program for the second time. Misangumukini is happy to have Seikovits with him for the challenge.

“Yes (it helps) a lot we are very close, almost like twins. We do almost everything together.”

Leonel Misangumukini hauling down Danube Dragons QB in 2019 game Photo: Peter Kramberger

The tall athletic defensive end has a ton of pass rushing potential. Misangumukini will be joining the rest of NFL’s International Player Pathway Program selections to train and refine his skills in Florida soon. His goals are to make it in the program like 2020 Austrian selection Sandro Platzgummer did, now with the New York Giants.

Misangumukini on his ambitious pro football goals:

“My future goals are to be on an NFL roster and play in an NFL game.”

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