Graphic: Igor Lazarevic
The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs have signed NFL IPP and Up Rise Academy tight end Kehinde Oginni Hassan.
The signing comes just days after Hassan failed to make the NFL IPP final selection, although most believe that mentor Osi Umenyiora already had other plans Hassan, one of three young Nigerian athletes he had mentored, as all are now on NFL rosters.
In 2014, Hassan’s football journey began in Abuja, Nigeria at an Ejike Ugboaja Foundation (EUF) sports camp. The 6 ‘7 Hassan, initially thinking he was too lanky to play football, was convinced by the American coaches to pursue a career in the game.
This first step for Hassan was however marred by a more harrowing memory. On the way back from that EUF camp, the bus carrying the young players was involved in a crash resulting in the death of three of Hassan’s teammates. Hassan said this is what inspired him to keep going.
Over the years that followed, Hassan continued to train, attend camps and post videos online which attracted attention from US colleges asking him to come stateside. However, due to the irregularity of the sport in Nigeria and the money involved in getting a visa, his application was denied on numerous occasions.
Despite all these setbacks, Hassan stayed motivated with a burning commitment to the sport. This finally paid off in March 2021 when Hassan got a call from former Super Bowl winning New York Giant, Osi Umenyiora. Umenyiora wanted him to attend Up Rise Academy in Nigeria in tandem with EUF in Abuja.
After Hassan made the final IPP Combine cut and underwent a grueling six months of training, he was on his way to London. At the combine, Hassan wowed scouts with an impressive command of his long frame, making acrobatic catches and quick breaks in and out of his routes.
Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes will undoubtedly take a liking to Hassan’s unique frame and movement skills. This combined with the tutelage he will receive under seven-time Pro Bowler Travis Kelce will put Hassan in the best position possible to make something of his NFL opportunity.