From Nigeria to the NFL draft, via Scotland

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David OjaboMichigan Wolverines linebacker David Ojabo is projected to go as high as the first-round, possibly even the top 10, of the 2022 NFL draft

As recently as 2017, David Ojabo had never played American football. After all, the sport wasn't especially big in Aberdeenshire.

Yet later this year, he is set to become an NFL star after declaring for the 2022 draft. In fact, by the end of April, the 21-year-old could be one of the most lavishly-paid Scottish athletes on the planet.

Some projections have the Michigan Wolverines linebacker going as high as the first-round, possibly even top 10. Not bad for a kid who "had his pants on backwards" the first time he showed up for practice as a faltering basketball scholar.

"I would never have thought I would be an American football player, but now I am here," he told BBC Scotland two years ago.

"I am trying to make money, I am trying to go to the NFL, I am trying to provide for my family, trying to be someone people can look up to, and dream, and make dreams come true."

From basketball to 100m in 10.8 seconds

Ojabo's family moved from Nigeria to work in Aberdeen when he was seven. So does he consider himself Scottish? "I love it, man. Scotland is home," he said last month.

It looked like he was set for a basketball career when, a decade later, he left to attend a high school in New Jersey. But it was an eye-catching outing on the track that cemented his switch of sports.

"I ran a 10.8 second 100m and that made people turn their heads. They saw I was big and fast and that is a recipe for American football in their eyes, so I gave it a shot," he explained.

''I was athletic, I could jump, I won the pre-state championship for track, so people were like 'wow, this big guy...' So from then on, people were in my ear saying 'you have got to try, you have got to try'."

Speaking to BBC Scotland in 2020, Aberdeenshire's David Ojabo spoke about his NFL goal.

Ojabo, who is 6ft 5ins and - at the time - weighed just under 18 stone, admits he did have some initial reservations.

"Being a soccer player back home, then a basketball player, all those head shots just didn't seem appealing," he said. "You see full-grown men going at full speed into each other, but I looked past that and saw what the future held.

"I had to get over that fear. It is a test of will to see who wants it more."

'I'm waiting on my time, but my time is coming'

After a season of high school football, Ojabo had already acquired an impressive reputation. A total of 35 scholarship offers arrived from the US's top educational institutions and he opted for University of Michigan.

"Honestly, I went in with zero expectation and I said I would put my head down and work and see what happens," Ojabo said.

"Michigan is just all round great. I feel like also it had a little Scotland in it too because of the weather, so it was just where I felt most at home, it was where I felt like it could set me up for the future, the best after football and with football."

After two understated, staccato seasons, Ojabo was a breakout star this term, becoming a darling of crowds in excess of 100,000 at the throbbing Michigan Stadium.

"Every time I go, I take it in," he said in 2020. "When I run out of the tunnel, I just look out at all the fans and wait on my time - and my time is coming soon."

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