NFL International Player Pathway spotlight: Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi, Nigeria

Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi has been selected as one of 11 athletes to attend the next stage of the NFL’s International Player Pathway (IPP) program in Arizona early next year.

The 6 ‘9″ offensive lineman was one of three successful Nigerians in the program last year after attending the IPP combine in London. Ndubuisi was picked up by the Arizona Cardinals before the culmination of the program but was released before the regular season began.

As Ndubuisi left the program early last year for the Cardinals he is again eligible this year, despite not attending the combine in London back in the beginning of October of 2022. 

Ndubuisi first appeared on the scene in Abuja, Nigeria, at The Up Rise Academy in 2021 after being invited by former NBA star Ejike Ugboaja who runs the program in tandem with Super Bowl winning and two-time Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora.

Ndubuisi immediately shone in Abuja, not only due to his sheer size and strength but also his quick feet and surprising athleticism for a big man. The 22-year-old began his football career in 2017 when he was noticed by American coaches at a basketball all-star game in Lagos, Nigeria.

Ndubuisi was unable to find success or recognition in the initial stages of his transition from basketball to football due to there being no formal league in Nigeria at the time. The young Lagosian almost gave up the dream and went back to street hawking (selling things on the street) before the call came from The Uprise.

After a grueling six months of training with Umenyiora, Ndubuisi, along with two other attendees, were invited to London for the NFL’s IPP in late 2021. Ndubuisi immediately caught the attention of the scouts and media. It was therefore no surprise when the young man’s name was announced on Twitter as a participant to last year’s program in Arizona.

Despite proving unsuccessful in his first NFL stint, the experience that Ndubuisi picked up will undoubtedly prove indispensable. He will again be heading to LeCharles Bently’s training facility, OLP, for a second year in a row and will surely prove to be one of the favorites.

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.