With the 220th pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Ifeadi Odenigbo, a defensive end out of Northwestern University. Odenigbo, stressed and having all but given up on being selected in this year’s draft, had decided to go out driving with his friends when he got the call from the Vikings. The call from the Vikings!
I had the opportunity to speak with Ifeadi Odenigbo earlier this evening, catching him between a full day of interviews with the press and a cooking class with the team nutritionist. Odenigbo is very aware of nutrition, focusing on eating plenty of protein to support his strength training. He is strong and fast – a combination that helped him end his Wildcat career with 23.5 sacks – second in school history. Ten of those came in 2016, when he led the Big Ten in sacks.
Ifeadi says being drafted is like being a freshman in high school again, with so much to learn. He has been spending his days studying the playbook, and mentioned more than once the pressure of this being a business. He knows he has to perform in order to stay with the team, and has the determination to do what it takes to keep his job.
Odenigbo has an easy laugh and a humble spirit. Our conversation felt like that of old friends, reconnecting, even though this ten-minute chat was the first time we had ever spoken to each other. Family is important to Ifeadi, and as he talked about his Uncle Kene, his affection for “the best Uncle ever” was evident. This young man, who grew up with an Adrian Peterson poster on his bedroom wall, is coming to terms with his dreams coming true. It hit him, he says, when he was on Facebook changing his employer to the Minnesota Vikings. “I am a professional!”
There will be lots of firsts for this new Viking who will definitely be a fan favorite. He has gumption and a whole lot of drive, packaged up in a down-to-earth, friendly personality. A short time ago, the Vikings asked him if he has a passport, to which he replied, Why? He will be playing in London this fall, against the Cleveland Browns! These Browns fans will be cheering for Ifeadi – during the London game and all season. We are thrilled to have had the chance to talk to him and will have plenty of updates throughout his career.