‘Oh wow, they know who I am!’ – Chiefs newbie Godrick welcomed to NFL by Mahomes, Wanogho
Leonard SolmsParticular to ESPN5 Minute Learn
Nigerian offensive lineman Chukwuebuka Jason Godrick has had an outstanding begin to life on the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, with 21 cross blocking snaps and no pressures to the quarterback in his first two video games — ever — in preseason.
In accordance the 22-yr-outdated from Lagos, who was allotted to the Chiefs through the NFL Worldwide Participant Pathway (IPP), his integration into the workforce has been seamless due to Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, in addition to fellow Nigerian Prince Tega Wanogho.
Godrick, who had by no means performed an organised American soccer recreation until this preseason, advised ESPN: “The entire O-line group is so wonderful. I cannot think about a greater workforce for me to have come to.
“To my benefit, I have a Nigerian on the workforce [Wanogho]. He performs my place too, so it was an amazing connection. We hit it off from the leap… However to be trustworthy, everybody within the O-line group, and even the superstars on the workforce, Patrick and Travis [have been especially welcoming].
“It was like, ‘Wow, okay! They know who I am!’ They had been so welcoming and had been very motivating. The little issues I was doing proper – the issues they noticed potential in – they had been all the time prepared to hype me up, give me a excessive 5 right here and there and a ‘good job’ right here and there.
“There is a cause why they’re the champions. I cannot evaluate it to another workforce, however simply the texture of the way in which all people is searching to all people and all people is pushing their brother to do their finest – it is wholesome competitors throughout the board.”
It’s little shock that Godrick, who switched from basketball to American soccer like most of his fellow Nigerian IPP gamers, is flourishing in a sink-or-swim atmosphere after being allotted to the Chiefs.
He was on the verge of getting to quit his skilled sporting ambitions when the coaches on the Instructional Basketball program in Lagos helped him change to American soccer a yr and a half in the past. Since then, he has progressed in leaps and bounds.
“Chu’s dad had given him one yr to work out his sports activities profession, or he was going to go to medical college. He had one month left to determine it out and that is when he met us in December 2021,” Iseolupo Adepitan, who runs Instructional Basketball together with his brother, Olutobi, recalled.
“Chu has great perception in himself and is a good chief. After we laid down the imaginative and prescient we had for him he was extraordinarily assured that he may get to that elite degree. He would drive up to three hours on a regular basis, relying on the site visitors, to exercises and even drop off a number of the different athletes.
“He had the largest enchancment out of everybody bodily and athletically. He got here in on the dimension of a taking pictures guard/small ahead in December 2021 at 6’5 [and] 215 [lbs] and by July 2022 he was at 6’6 [and] 275 lbs.
“Chu is the proper instance of what can occur for a homegrown Nigerian athlete whenever you commit to a workforce and imaginative and prescient and make the required sacrifices to get to that elite degree. We consider he is going to be a star within the NFL and a job mannequin for the subsequent technology of younger homegrown Nigerian athletes to search for to.”
After Instructional Basketball laid the muse of that dream, Godrick took the subsequent steps in his American soccer journey by means of Osi Umenyiora’s Uprise camps, after which the NFL Africa Landing camp in Ghana final yr.
There, Umenyiora collaborated with NFL stars previous and current together with Mathias Kiwanuka, Roman Oben, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Kwity Paye and Ogbo Okoronkwo to coach the highest gamers recognized by means of his private scouting endeavors throughout the continent.
The highest contributors, like Godrick, CJ Okoye, and Kenneth Odumegwu, moved on to the NFL Academy and IPP Program.
Whereas a lot of his friends understandably hesitate to set lofty targets for themselves from the get-go, Godrick is aware of exactly what he desires out of his first yr within the NFL: to earn respect to the purpose the place he’s seen as indistinguishable from teammates who have performed American soccer all their lives.
“On the finish of the yr, I need to now not be seen as, ‘He hasn’t performed soccer earlier than; he’s new to the sport’. I need to get to a degree the place I will be trusted extra,” he mentioned.
“The workforce does an amazing job to belief the work that I put in; that is why they put me on the sector. I’m simply making an attempt to elevate myself mentally to have a larger understanding of the sport and to be referred to as impenetrable.
“When guys come in opposition to me, [I want them to be] like, ‘Oh wow, we now have to put together for Chu this week.”