KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee football has received a signed financial aid agreement from talented NFL Academy athlete Emmanuel Okoye of Lagos, Nigeria, it was announced on Wednesday.
Okoye (pronounced oh-KOY-ay) represented the NFL Academy in Loughborough, U.K., during the fall of 2022 and is slated to enroll at Tennessee this summer and be eligible for the 2023-24 athletic year.
The 18-year-old Okoye’s football journey began after being discovered by Osi Umenyiora and his ‘The Uprise’ program scouts. He was invited to attend the inaugural ‘The Uprise’ football talent identification camp in Abuja, Nigeria in 2022. After impressing there, he was invited to NFL Africa’s talent identification camp held in Ghana in the summer of 2022, with his performance earning him a place at the NFL Academy.
Okoye played defensive end and on special teams for the NFL Academy. He played in contests against IMG Academy, Scotland U19’s and Nottingham University. During the NFL Academy Combine, he jumped a 45’5″ vertical and a 11’3″ broad jump.
Okoye is tabbed as a four-star prospect by both On3.com and 247Sports.com. ESPN.com and Rivals.com both list him as a three-star prospect. He’s considered the No. 1 recruit in England. He is the first football student-athlete to sign with the Vols from Nigeria since Chris Akporoghene did as a member of the Class of 2019.
VFL Jakob Johnson had a similar international journey to Tennessee. A native of Stuttgart, Germany, Johnson played for the Stuttgart Scorpions before moving to the United States as a high school senior. A four-year letterwinner with the Vols from 2014-17, he was a member of the NFL’s International Pathway Program where he signed a free agent contract with the New England Patriots. Johnson spent three seasons with the Patriots before signing a contract with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022.
The NFL Academy, an elite player pathway program which opened in September 2019, is a major initiative by the NFL, which aims to use football to create life-changing opportunities for young people all around the world.
It offers talented student athletes aged 16–19 a pathway to combine their full-time education alongside a transformative life skills program and intensive training in the sport, under the guidance of a professional coaching team in an elite sporting set-up.
Based at Loughborough’s world-renowned center of sporting excellence in the U.K., and in partnership with Loughborough College and Loughborough University, the program promotes world class performance and the development of elite player pathways, supporting student athletes with NFL best practices and resources.