NFL's International Player Pathway Program announces new class

The NFL's IPP is another branch attempting help expand the game's popularity and reach into new territories.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The NFL's IPP is another branch attempting help expand the game's popularity and reach into new territories.

The National Football League is in the midst of significant international expansion on a number of fronts these days—from exporting games to foreign countries that serve as exhibitions for the sport to launching concentrated marketing efforts in specific regions for individual teams. One another way the sport is trying to establish global dominance is via its International Player Pathway Program (IPP).

Every year since its inception in 2017, the NFL has made an effort to encourage international participation on NFL rosters via the training and mentorship of foreign prospects to play the game. In the last handful of seasons, the league has watched 37 such prospects land with NFL franchises, whether signed as free agents or allocated by the league.

The Kansas City Chiefs participated in the International Player Pathway Program just last year when the league allocated Chukwuebuka "Jason" Godrick to the team's practice squad. The NFL also allowed the Chiefs to have a 17th practice squad slot in order to accommodate Godrick for the season—a timeline that would allow him to really develop as an NFL prospect.

The greatest success stories so far from the IPP include Philadephia Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata, Washington Commanders edge Efe Obada, and Las Vegas Raiders fullback Jakob Johnson.

This year, there are 16 new athletes vying for attention from NFL teams including five specialists for the first time.:

  • Jotham Russell - Australia
  • Patrick Murtagh - Australia
  • Florian Bierbaumer - Austria
  • Bayron Matos - Dominican Republic
  • George Smith - England
  • Travis Clayton - England
  • Harry Mallinder - England
  • Mark Jackson - Ireland
  • Charlie Smyth - Ireland
  • Darragh Leader - Ireland
  • Rory Beggan - Ireland
  • Sam Orji - Nigeria
  • Isaac Ajanah - Nigeria
  • Udo Uzuegbu - Nigeria
  • Praise Olatoke - Nigeria/Scotland
  • Louis Rees-Zammit - Wales

These 16 players will now head to train at the IMG Academy in January and will conclude their training camp in March when teams will be able to claim players for the same special practice squad spot occupied by Godrick in K.C. this year.