Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, it was not until 2011 when New Orleans Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata saw his first North American football game. Moving from Nigeria to Winnipeg, Canada, the Saints fourth round draft pick in 2016 enrolled at the University of Manitoba to pursue a degree in environmental science. He picked up football as a way to spend his free time.
"I just felt like it was time to give something a try," Onyemata said. "Because all I did was go to class and go back home. I had so much free time that I just had to put something in there. I ended up trying out for the team. ...
"I just fell in love with the game, that is what happened. I just fell in love with the game, hitting guys and just being out there with my guys. I enjoyed being out there. I'd love to do this for a long time."
After just one season in the NFL, the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder doubled the total number of football games he has played in his entire life. Onyemata did not play football in high school and he did not play in every game in college but he played 36 percent of the defensive snaps last season.
Built with a big and powerful frame, the defensive lineman has strength that will be able to wreak havoc in opponents backfields. With another offseason to learn, Onyemata could become a special player and be a large contributor on the defense this season.
"I am a strong and physical guy," Onyemata said. "I'm going to kill who comes out there. I want to win every rep I take. (I have) speed. I'm a really quick guy as well."
With the loss of star defensive tackle Nick Fairley, the Saints are going to need Onyemata to help hold down the interior of the defensive line alongside Sheldon Rankins.
You can watch Onyemata's growth this summer at 2017 New Orleans Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon.