While the focus of most football fans when it comes to the NFL Combine is on drill results, many stories emerge from the player interviews about remarkable journeys to reach the professional football ranks. Some of them interest us because they involve college programs in Michigan. Take, for example, Jonas Shaffer at the Baltimore Sun writing about Michigan defensive players at the Combine praising new Ravens defensive assistant (and former Michigan analyst) Ryan Osborn.
Then there are the unexpectedly awesome paths foreign-born players took to get to in-state programs and now the NFL Combine. Austria’s Bernhard Raimann turned in an incredible athletic performance, and now the Central Michigan offensive tackle is a hot commodity.
Nigerian-born David Ojabo came to Ann Arbor by way of Scotland, so there’s a heck of a story there too. Seems like he would fit right in with the Detroit defense. Of course you also have the underdogs like Skyy Moore from Western Michigan. A nice article by the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett will make you want to pull for Moore to get drafted high.
Sauce Gardner is as passionate as anyone has been at the podium.
Mentioned his background in Detroit made him the man he is today and why his mother is his hero.
— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) March 5, 2022
The ties to Michigan don’t end with the in-state programs, though. As can be seen in the quote above from Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner, there are others throughout the draft pool with stories linking back to Detroit. MLive’s Kyle Meinke has a great piece on the Detroit King player who used to be known as “A1 Sauce Sweet Feet Gardner.”
Probably the best of the bunch of the locally-sourced prospect stories, though, is about Iowa State’s Eyioma Uwazurike. Justin Rogers of the Detroit News has a fine article on the defensive tackle (who also has Nigerian roots) showing much love for the city of Detroit.
These are the stories I love writing from the combine.
Eyioma Uwazurike wears his Detroit roots like a badge of honor and his heart on his sleeve. The Iowa State product has overcome adversity after adversity and is knocking on the NFL’s door. https://t.co/zhNVB7Ye0P
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) March 4, 2022
As we get through the weekend and take stock of the numbers rolling out of Indianapolis, don’t skip over the background stories like the ones above. Lots of great reads to put a human touch on the players we’ll be hankering for the Lions to draft in April. Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:
- Earlier this week, Derrik Klassen’s Four Downs column on Football Outsiders posted its NFC North division offseason review. It will come as no surprise to Pride of Detroit readers that the team’s biggest need according to Klassen is wide receiver.
- MLive’s Aaron McMann wrote a fun article pointing out amusing quotes overheard at the Combine from players at the podium. Naturally, a bunch were from Michigan players.
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— GALvanize (@GALvanizeLife) March 4, 2022