After a successful tryout in San Diego in May, South African ex-rugby player Lloyd Greeff will be heading to Germany to take part in the invitation-only international Pathway Program event later this year.
The NFL Pathway Program is an instructional programme for foreign players to train and learn the finer points of football to prepare them for elite competition in the NFL – one of the world’s most lucrative sporting codes.
Greeff will enter an intense selection process with the assistance of Jim Ulrich from Enter Sports Management, who has worked with the Pathway Program for more than two decades and represented the first Australian to be drafted into the NFL.
Closer to home, Ulrich also recently worked with Liberian athlete Matt Gono, who is now a starting guard for the Atlanta Falcons. Greeff’s prodigious kicking ability, his size and running speed bode well for his tryout as a tight end and longsnapper in the NFL. Should Greeff be successful in the Pathway Program, completing a number of specialised drills and performance data captures, he would then compete in the late fall NFL International Combine in Germany as a route to the US in early 2022 to be signed by an NFL team.
Greeff was up against some top US talent in San Diego, with five NFL teams, two CFL teams and several independent scouts attending the camp. The hand-picked talent roster featured 61 players, 30 of whom have already appeared in the NFL and one who was signed for the Cleveland Browns just days before the tryouts.
“This has really been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. When I arrived in the USA, I had the privilege of having a one-on-one workout with NFL legend, Nick Novak. The Hub itself was a great experience and I am now in a rigorous training programme as I prepare for the NFL Pathway combine’” said Greeff.
“Despite stiff competition the door remains open for Lloyd and we’re pleased he will get further opportunities to demonstrate his incredible kicking talent later this year. Getting Lloyd signed to an NFL team would be a tremendous boost for attracting African talent to the NFL,” says Ulrich.
Munya Maraire CEO of World Wide Scholarships (WWS), who has played a leading role in developing a talent pipeline from Africa to the NFL – himself a former Penn State University track and football athlete after battling the odds to compete from a background in Zimbabwe – says successful trials for African athletes in the NFL could change many lives.
“We are active in 25 African countries and believe the linkages with the NFL and American universities are at the very beginning. There is a lot Africa can offer this sporting code, despite the challenges in overcoming equipment shortages and educating young athletes about the sport and its specialised skills. I fully believe we will unearth some new NFL stars in the near future,” says Maraire.
To this end, WWS is staging the American Football Showcase Africa for professional rugby players who want to tryout for America Football, from 7-9 August in South Africa. A selection of players who fit the skills and ability prerequisites for the NFL will be profiled on the NFL Draft Bible site, run by Rick Serritella, with videos of participants also being sent on to NFL teams to gauge talent scout interest.