It’s not every day that a Nigerian is ranked in the top 100 of ESPN’s prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
But that’s the reality for Prince Tega Wanogho, who is pushing for selection after shining as a senior for the Auburn Tigers during the last 12 months.
The 6ft 5” 308lbs athlete, with size 17 feet, attended the 2020 NFL scouting combine and made a lasting impression.
There’s no doubt that Wanogho’s supreme athleticism will have captured the eye of NFL scouts. The NFL campaign is a gruelling one for players and supporters alike. Fans bet on NFL games all season long, starting with the 17-week regular season and the postseason march towards the February Super Bowl. The Super Bowl was something that Wanogho hadn’t even heard of when living in a modest village in the Delta State area of Nigeria. In fact, Wanogho had his eyes fixed firmly on becoming an NBA superstar rather than an NFL prospect. He knew little about American football and how the NFL has provided some of the best moments in sporting history.
From NBA aspirations to a shot at college football
At the tender age of 16, Wanogho made the bold decision to leave Nigeria in pursuit of getting on the first rung of the NBA ladder. He would attend a basketball training camp in the States before going on to study at Auburn University, Alabama. It was during his time at Auburn that he would be discovered as a potential NFL star. After smashing the 40-yard dash in a mere 4.61 seconds, he would catch the eye of Auburn Tigers’ head coach Gus Malzahn.
Wanogho started out in his first season with the Tigers as a defensive end, but it wouldn’t take long for the Tigers’ hierarchy to consider utilizing his explosive physical attributes further up the field. As a left and right offensive tackle, Wanogho has all the tools in his box to play in a team operating a zone blocking strategy. He’s tall and strong, which is almost a prerequisite as an offensive tackle, but he also boasts surprisingly quick feet and hands for such an imposing figure. For sure, he is something of a rough diamond, but there will be NFL teams out there capable of coaching some of the bad habits out of his game. Training and playing against the best in the business will only enhance his skillset further.
Wanogho ready and raring to go after knee scoping
A knee injury forced Wanogho out of the spotlight of the Senior Bowl, with his right knee requiring scoping in late January. His rehabilitation meant that he was unable to feature in the official NFL combine and Auburn’s ‘Pro Day’ in March. That hasn’t curbed the interest of many NFL franchises, with Wanogho staging his own private workout to give teams access to his vital statistics ahead of the draft.
This year’s NFL Draft has taken on a hugely different look and feel. Originally, it was due to be hosted in Las Vegas, as ‘Sin City’ prepares to welcome the first season of NFL football thanks to the arrival of the Las Vegas Raiders. However, the current global climate saw the NFL authorities opt to stage this season’s draft digitally. Instead of being held on the fountains of the Bellagio, the draft’s commissioner Roger Goodell will instead be revealing every pick from his basement office.
The NFL Draft is undoubtedly the biggest moment for any budding NFL professional. As many as 255 college football graduates go on to make the cut each year and as Wanogho is considered to be a top-75 draft pick this year, it’s almost nailed-on that he will fly the flag for Nigeria in the NFL later this year. Defensive end Obum Gwacham is another Nigerian-born player to have flirted with the NFL in recent years. He spent time with the Seahawks, the Saints, the Cardinals and the Jets before moving over to the NFL’s rival league, the XFL, playing for the Tampa Bay Vipers.