Thomas Odukoya doesn’t have the most conventional pathway to a football career, crossing the Atlantic to pursue a career as a tight end after playing high school ball at Helen Parkhurst HS in his native Almere, Netherlands, but all that hard work was rewarded on Monday morning, as Odukoya was added to the Tennessee Titans roster via the NFL International Player Pathway Program.
The NFL International Player Pathway Program was established in 2016 to strengthen NFL pipelines for players from non-traditional backgrounds, finding eligible prospects from the international ranks and giving them an opportunity to compete for NFL roster spots.
Each year, an NFL division is chosen at random to field one prospect each from the eligible pool of players who were not drafted or signed to a UDFA contract, with each of those players being then given a roster exemption as a practice squad member, should they not be selected to the 53-man roster.
Odukoya, a six-foot-six, 263 lb. tight end, was one of four finalists this season, and will be required to be fielded on the Tennessee Titans roster until at least the end of training camp. He, along with the other three Player Pathways participants, will be eligible to be called up to the active roster using a special exception should he be kept on the practice squad to start the 2022 season.
Odukoya finished his EMU career with 21 receptions for 194 yards and four touchdowns, acting primarily as a blocking tight end in two-TE formations after playing at two different JUCO’s in America and graduating from Helen Parkhurst HS as the MVP of Dutch football, where he was a star defensive end.
(Coincidentally, Odukoya was also selected in the second round of the 2022 CFL Global Draft by the Montreal Alouettes as part of the CFL’s own global initiatives, making him eligible for play in Canada, should he not stick on in Tennessee.)
Players on NFL rosters who have graduated from the program include German fulback Jakob Johnson (New England), Australian tackle Jordan Mailata (Philadelpia), British edge rusher Efe Obada (Buffalo) and Chilean tight end Sammis Reyes (Washington.)
Odukoya is expected to participate in Tennessee’s rookie mini-camps in Nashville next week.