Five UK players will chase their NFL dreams on Saturday (19 October) when they take part in the NFL International Combine, being held in Germany for the first time.
The invitational scouting showcase, mirrored after the annual NFL Combine staged in the United States, is designed to discover and evaluate potential NFL talent from around the globe. A total of 50 athletes have been selected to go through a series of tests in front of NFL evaluators at Sportschule Hennef, a sports training facility outside Cologne.
Athletes will participate in a range of speed, agility, strength and skill-based tests, each designed to assess the athlete’s suitability to play in the NFL. Participants will be evaluated for a possible spot on the NFL’s International Player Pathway, the programme through which Londoner Efe Obada has earned a place on the full Carolina Panthers roster and which has seen former England rugby international Christian Wade placed on the practice squad of the Buffalo Bills.
Following the Combine, a select number of athletes who meet specific performance standards and display the potential to play in the NFL, will be invited to train in the US for three months.
“Following last year’s inaugural International Combine in Australia, we are excited to explore the talent pool internationally,”
Said Damani Leech, NFL Chief Operating Officer of International. “Since 2017, the NFL’s International Player Pathway programme has provided international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level and develop their skills, and we hope to discover new talent through this event in Germany.”
The UK players selected to participate are:
KEANU EBANKS, Offensive Lineman. Age: 25
Currently plays in the German Football League’s top division for the Hildesheim Invaders. Began playing at the University of Hull and has previously played for the Doncaster Mustangs and Leeds Bobcats, local amateur teams.
JAHMAL GERMAIN, Wide Receiver. Age: 27
Born in Haiti and moved to the UK as a teenager, where he was introduced to track and field by Linford Christie. Bronze medallist in decathlon at the British Indoor Championships in 2014. Has played one season of football with the London Warriors, winning a national championship.
KADEL KING, Linebacker. Age: 24
Former Kent Exiles junior player who currently plays in the German Football League’s top division for the Frankfurt Universe. Previously played for the GFL’s Potsdam Royals. Played football at St. Francis Xavier University in Canada.
RAYMOND SOBOWALE, Running Back. Age: 26
Currently plays for the London Warriors. Named MVP in 2018 at BritBowl XXXII, the championship game of the British American Football Association. Played football at university.
GLEN TOONGA, Running Back. Age: 24
Currently plays in the German Football League’s top division for the Dresden Monarchs. Former county-level sprinter who began playing football at the University of Southampton and has previously played for the London Blitz.
NFL International Player Pathway background:
Instituted in 2017, the programme aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster. During the 2019 NFL season, eight teams were able to carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads as part of the International Player Pathway programme, although the New England Patriots chose to include fullback Jakob Johnson on their 10-man practice squad in order to be able activate him once the season began.
Also with AFC East clubs for the 2019 season are: Valentine Holmes (New York Jets), a former professional rugby league player in Australia; Durval Queiroz Neto (Miami Dolphins), who played football in Brazil; and Christian Wade (Buffalo Bills), a former England rugby player.
The four players who participated in the programme in 2018 have returned to their AFC North teams: Moritz Böhringer (Cincinnati Bengals), who was originally drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016; German Football League player Christopher Ezeala (Baltimore Ravens); former British American Football League player Tigie Sankoh (Cleveland Browns); and former Worcester Warriors rugby player Christian Scotland-Williamson (Pittsburgh Steelers).