NFL International Player Pathway spotlight: Kehinde Hassan Oginni, Nigeria

Kehinde Oginni Hassan 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 ‘7″ Hassan was one of three successful Nigerians in the program last year after attending the IPP combine in London. Hassan was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs before the culmination of the program as a defensive lineman and even saw extensive game time in the pre-season before being released.

Hassan left the program early last year when he signed with the Chiefs, which made him eligible again this year, despite not attending the combine in London back in the beginning of October of 2022. 

In 2014, Hassan’s football journey began in Abuja, Nigeria, at an Ejike Ugboaja Foundation (EUF) sports camp. Initially he thought he was too lanky to play football but was convinced by American coaches to pursue a career in the game.

This first step for Hassan was however marred by a more harrowing memory. On the way back from that EUF camp, the bus carrying the young players was involved in a crash resulting in the death of three of Hassan’s teammates. Hassan said this is what inspired him to keep going.

Over the years that followed, Hassan continued to train, attend camps and post videos online which attracted attention from US colleges asking him to come stateside. However, due to the irregularity of the sport in Nigeria and the money involved in getting a visa, his application was denied on numerous occasions.

Despite all these setbacks, Hassan stayed motivated with a burning commitment to the sport. This finally paid off in March 2021 when he got a call from former Super Bowl winning New York Giant, Osi Umenyiora. Umenyiora wanted him to attend the Up Rise Academy in Nigeria in tandem with EUF in Abuja.

After Hassan made the final IPP Combine cut and underwent a grueling six months of training, he was on his way to London. At the 2021 combine, Hassan wowed scouts with an impressive command of his long frame, making acrobatic catches and quick breaks in and out of his routes.

His raw ability, and undoubtedly a great sales pitch from Umenyiora, led to significant interest from the Chiefs and an eventual off-season stint. Despite Hassan’s time being cut short in the NFL, he will have certainly developed greatly and gained some much-needed experience at the highest level of the game.

Hassan has spent the off-season training and getting ready for another shot at the league and will now get that as he again tries to make his way through the IPP program and earn a place on an NFL team after the 2022 NFL Draft.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He played for the London Warriors for 15 years as well as Team Great Britain .