NFL International Player Pathway Program adds former SMU French DE Junior Aho

This year’s NFL International Player Pathway class will grow one more player as French talent Junior Aho will join the group of 11 original invitees to the training facility in Arizona this month.

As part of the NFL IPP, the group will train and learn the game from NFL coaches before a Pro Day in March. From there, four players will be allocated to NFL teams, while the rest will become free agents.

Aho, 23, grew up playing football in the south of France for the Dauphins De Nice before finding himself rushing the passer at the NCAA DI Level.

Most recently, the 6’3 260-pound defensive end finished up his final collegiate season with the SMU Mustangs playing in all 13 games, noting 23 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. During his three seasons with the Mustangs, he played in 25 games, making 43 tackles, seven and a half tackles for a loss, five sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Aho was a standout for the Dauphins De Nice youth team, before switching to practice with the Aigles les Rouge, also located in Nice. Aho played for the Marsielle Blue Stars and Seinäjoki Crocodiles of Finland in 2018. That same year, Aho was also part of the French National team helping them win gold in the European Championships.

After a eventful 2018, Aho made the jump to the United States, at junior college football level, suiting up for New Mexico Military Institute. There, he racked up 40 tackles, five and a half sacks, and two forced fumbles, helping his team to the SWJCFC championship game. After one season, Aho earned a three-star rating and received scholarship offers from top programs such as Minnesota, Nebraska, Louisiana Tech, and Liberty, before eventually choosing SMU.

Aho hopes to be allocated to an NFL team in May as he brings far and away the best football experience of any of the other 11 candidates. He will be the only French player in this year’s class, yet his chances could be strong, as we have seen the NFL IPP program select defensive linemen often as Efe Obada, David Bada, Adedayo Odeleye, and Matt Leo have all been placed on NFL teams through the years.


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