The Tennessee Titans currently have tight end Thomas Odukoya as a part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program. Here’s a little bit about the International Pathway as well as Odukoya’s story.
The NFL released a new program in 2017 to help better develop players and prospects from other countries outside of North America and allow them a chance to work with an NFL organization and learn the rigors and ropes of what it takes to run a football program. The IPP program “aims to provide elite international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.” Thomas Odukoya will receive this opportunity in 2022 with the Tennessee Titans.
This program has helped three players record their 1000th career snap in the time it’s been around, that list involving Efe Obada of the Buffalo Bills, Jakob Johnson of the New England Patriots, and Jordan Mailata of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The AFC South was selected this season, at random, as the NFL division that would automatically receive international players this season. Because of that, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, and Tennessee Titans have special exemptions that will keep the international players on their team this season.
At the conclusion of training camp, assuming that Odukoya doesn’t make the roster, he will have a practice squad position without costing the Titans a spot on their roster. In other words, he will be an extra player that all of the teams in the AFC South will have as opposed to the rest of the NFL. In certain conditions, the Titans will be able to raise Odukoya to the active roster during the season if needed.
Thomas Odukoya’s football experience
Thomas Odukoya played high school football at Helen Parkhurst high in Almere, Netherlands, where he was a three-year captain and was a Dutch National MVP his senior year.
Coalinga, California, is where Thomas Odukoya’s football career began in America, at West Hills College. after a year there, he transferred to Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas. It was a much better fit. Odukoya became a two-star JUCO prospect receiving four offers, including Coastal Carolina, Hawaii, and New Mexico State. Odukoya enrolled in Eastern Michigan in August of 2018 and started his work.
His Eastern Michigan career was a success. In 2018, he started in four games. In 2019, he took a major step forward. Odukoya received Academic All-MAC honors while playing in all 13 games and making seven starts. His final two years in Eastern Michigan ended with several starts and
In 2020, he was selected to wear the #2 jersey in the Eastern Michigan program, known as “The Deuce,” which is a coveted jersey within the program. The tradition was started after the program lost Demarius Reed, who was killed tragically in 2013. Since then, the #2 jersey is worn by the “most deserving pass catcher” in the Eastern Michigan program.
Odukoya hauled in 13 passes for 130 yards in his final season at Eastern Michigan and scored two touchdowns. He was invited to the Hula Bowl and performed in the all-star event in front of multiple NFL scouts and executives.
What does Thomas Odukoya bring in terms as a prospect?
Thomas Odukoya was considered one of the most prolific blocking tight ends in the nation. He has been a leader everywhere that he has been. He’s also been a multiple-time watch list honoree for the Campbell Trophy, Wierffel Trophy, and the Mackey Award.
Odukoya makes sense to the Tennessee Titans as a team that loves to run the football. They demand a lot from their tight ends as run blockers and oftentimes have liked to utilize them as pass catchers too – all things that Odukoya can provide to the field with his skillset.
Odukoya has some work to reach the 1000 snap club in this part of his career, but it is not impossible – and the NFL could benefit from another international player blossoming from the IPP.