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From Africa to the NFL: Packers DL Kenneth Odumegwu from Nigeria hopes to leave lasting imprint

From Africa to the NFL: Packers DL Kenneth Odumegwu from Nigeria hopes to leave lasting imprint
Posted at 4:26 PM, May 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-08 15:10:24-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — The Packers drafted 11 players and brought in a lot more as undrafted free agents.

However, there’s one player in rookie camp that the Packers brought in via the NFL international player pathway program.

For Nigerian defensive lineman Kenneth Odumegwu, American football is a totally new experience.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make the team, like make them proud they got me in,” Odumegwu said. “I’ll work myself out. I’ll do everything asked of me. I promise to be great.”

Odumegwu was too tall for soccer, so he played basketball in Nigeria, but decided to make the transition to football.

“I told my dad, I told my mom about it, they were like well, “it’s up to you to do what you want to do”,” he said. “Something in my heart felt like this is very possible. So I had to make the switch.”

He attended two-time Super Bowl champion Osi Umenyiora’s NFL Africa touchdown camp in Ghana where he was named Defensive Most Valuable Player.

“From his camp to the camp in Africa, in Ghana, that was the first NFL camp in Africa. From there I made it to the combine in London. I made it through to the IPP, which I was down in Florida for three months while I was training for football, so I’m still very new to football,” Odumegwu said.

When he says he’s new to football, he means it. Odumegwu has never played an organized game of football.

“Football is a very new sport to me, to be honest,” he said. “I seen it on the media. Last year I didn’t know what was [the] line of scrimmage, I didn’t know none of [the rules]. To be honest, we don’t know about American football in Nigeria.”

They may not know much about American football in Nigeria, but the new Packer was kind of familiar with the organization.

“I knew about the quarterback Aaron Rodgers – we have a Nigerian descent here, (Packers EDGE Rusher) JJ Enagbare,” said Odumegwu. “The moment I got to this team, the Green Bay Packers, I started learning more about the team and I’m proud to be a part of the team that has the most championships in the history of the NFL.”

The new Packer is hoping he can leave a lasting imprint when his career is all said and done.

“To be honest, in the future, I want to be a part of the pioneers of American football in Nigeria. I’d like to grow this game more in Nigeria, just like Osi Umenyiora has done, I’d like to do that too,” Odumegwu said.

The Packers get a practice squad exemption as part of the pathway program after training camp. It’s likely when all is said and done, Odumegwu will end up being stashed there all season.