Back in 2017, David Ojabo never played American football. After all, the sport was not very big in Aberdeenshire.
He is set to become an NFL star later this year after signing up for Draft 2022. In fact, by the end of April, the 21-year-old could be one of the richest paid Scottish athletes on the planet.
Some projections show that Michigan Wolverines defender is as high as in the first round, maybe even in the top 10. It’s not bad for a child who “had his pants backwards” when he first appeared in training as a hesitant basketball scholar.
“I never thought I would be an American football player, but I’m here now,” he told BBC Scotland two years ago.
“I’m trying to make money, I’m trying to go to the NFL, I’m trying to provide for my family, I’m trying to be someone people can look up to, dream about and make dreams come true.”
From basketball to 100 m in 10.8 seconds
Ojabo’s family moved from Nigeria to work in Aberdeen when he was seven. So he considers himself a Scot? “I love it, man. Scotland is home,” he said last month.
He seemed ready for a basketball career when he went to high school in New Jersey ten years later. But it was an engaging trip on the track that solidified his change of sport.
“I ran 10.8 seconds 100 m and people turned their heads over it. They saw that I was big and fast and that is a recipe for American football in their eyes, so I tried it,” he explained.
” I was athletic, I could jump, I won a prescription championship on the track, so people said ‘Wow, this big guy …’ So people have been saying to me ever since, ‘you have to try, you have to try.’
Ojabo, who is 6 feet 5 inches and – at the time – weighed just under 18 stones, admits he had some initial reservations.
“Being a football player at home and then a basketball player, all those shots in the head just didn’t seem attractive,” he said. “You see adult men coming at full speed, but I’ve looked through it and seen what the future holds.
“I had to overcome that fear. It’s a test of the will to see who wants more.”
“I’m waiting for my time, but my time is coming”
After the high school football season, Ojabo has gained an impressive reputation. A total of 35 scholarship offers came from leading US educational institutions and he decided to go to the University of Michigan.
“Honestly, I went into it with zero expectations and I said I’d put my head down and work and see what happens,” Ojabo said.
“Michigan is just great. I feel like there was a bit of Scotland in it because of the weather, so I felt most at home there, I felt it could prepare me for the future.” , the best after football and football. “
After two faint staccato seasons, Ojabo was a breakthrough star during the period and became the darling of the crowds of over 100,000 at the vibrant stadium in Michigan.
“Every time I go, I take it,” he said in 2020. “When I run out of the tunnel, I just look at all the fans and wait for my time – and my time will come soon.”