London NFL International Combine: Nigerian athletes at the forefront

Earlier this week, the NFL held its annual International Combine in Tottenham, London. Of the 44 participants, 12 were from Nigeria, making up the biggest group from any country.

Despite all of the hype and attention due to NFL Africa’s involvement in the initiative, little is known about the group coming from the west African state. For this reason, we have detailed each attendee’s football roots below.

NB: two of the Nigerian athletes were unable to make the combine due to visa/passport issues in Nigeria.

Okoye Basil Chijioke – OL 

Okoye Basil Chijioke was one of the top prospects at this year’s London Combine. The 20-year. 6’6″, 315 pound athletic lineman received recognition as the top offensive player of the Osi Umenyiora’s NFL Africa Camp. The Uprise Academy product recorded a 34.5-inch vertical jump in the combine-drills portion. The general consensus is that he is the most NFL-ready player of the group.

Udochukwu Precious Uzuegbu – WR 

Udochukwu Precious Uzuegbu is another standout from the NFL Africa camp.  The 6’3, 212 pound prospect from the Uprise Academy is a coachable and natural receiver with soft hands and the ability to stretch the field. Uzuegbu is a bouncy athlete who has the ability to leap over the top of defenders as seen in the slam dunk below.

Jason Godrick – OL

Godrick is another Uprise Academy lineman hoping to get to the NFL like alumni Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi and Roy Mbaeteka. The Lagos native is a lean 6’7 with a basketball background. He’s a raw tackle prospect however his long arms and athleticism could give him a huge upside.

Omemgboji Chibuike Chisom – OL

Another massive lineman out of Uprise Academy Chibuike looks the part of an NFL lineman and was one of the standouts at the NFL Africa Camp. The former basketball player has packed on the pounds hitting the weight room hard since his days on the hardwood. 

Desmond Osuji – DL

The 21-year-old, 6’6″, 240 pound defensive lineman got into football via Educational Basketball this year. He made the full transition to football back in May and attended Osi Umenyiora’s camp in Abuja, Ghana.

Players share a joke during a break at the International Player Combine. Via NFL UK

Kenneth Odumegwu – DL

Kenneth Odumegwu came into football via Educational Basketball and Up Rise and has since become one of its brightest hopefuls.

The 6’5″, 266 pound defensive lineman wow’d scouts at the combine with an impressive command of his large frame and put up an unofficial 4.8 40-yard dash.

Ebuka Emmanuel Nzekwe – DB

Another one of the IPP combine’s brightest, Ebuka Emmanuel Nzekwe first found football through Educational Basketball who found him via viral videos of him performing acrobatic dunks.

The 6’0″, 200 pound Nzekwe recorded the highest vertical jump at the camp and accompanied it with quickness and straight-line speed that showed he has no shortcomings when it came to raw athleticism.

Ifeanyi Paul Anine – DB

Ifeanyi Paul Anine began his football career back in 2018 with the Lagos Marines in Nigeria, playing mostly flag football. 

Anine has been playing football for longer than most of the other Nigerians and showed it during the NFL IPP combine. The 6’2″ safety ran an unofficial 4.5 40-yard dash and moved through the defensive back drills with fluidity.

Ifeanyi Augustine Nwoye – LB

Ifeanyi Augustine Nwoye first found football when he was approached at the gym due to his raw physical strength and received an invite to the Up Rise Academy. Within a few days of coming into contact with Up Rise he was sent to Abuja, Ghana, for Umenyiora’s camp.

The hybrid linebacker has limited exposure to football and weighs around 215 pounds and stands at 5’11″.

Amos Laoye – OL

Amon Laoye is a 6’3″, 320 pound Nigerian who grew up in Belgium and is a veteran of the German Football League. The 25-year-old Laoye has suited up in Germany’s top league since 2016, playing for the Cologne Crocodiles, Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, Potsdam Royals, and this past season for the New Yorker Lions. Laoye is one of a few players back from last year taking another crack at his NFL dreams.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.