NFL Combine gets an international twist with Karlaftis and Ebiketie

Similar journeys were made by Arnold Ebiketie and George Karlaftis to reach this week's NFL Scouting Combine.

NFL Combine gets an international twist with Karlaftis and Ebiketie

Before they tried football, both excelled in other sports. Both were both star defensive ends for the Big Ten. Both were star defensive ends in the Big Ten.

Karlaftis & Ebiketie, both from the USA, are still in Indianapolis a decade later. They show everyone that children all over the globe can still achieve their American dreams.

Karlaftis, a Greek-born child, said that he didn't know much about the game, such as what a first down is, how to position yourself or throw a spiral. I had to trust my instincts. It took me around a year to figure this out. But I could clearly see that I was physically dominating my friends in the field so I decided to give it a try."

The results were beyond Purdue's expectations. Penn State was also pleased to have Ebiketie as its final college season after the Cameroon native had started at Temple.

With the draft fast approaching, Karlaftis & Ebiketie quickly become more than potential first-rounders. They are part of the NFL's growing global reach.

Recent combines have seen a mix of athletes from all over the globe in the participant list. This year's class is bigger, more talented, and may cover a wider area of the globe.

After completing a 6-month mandatory military stint, Bernhard Raimann, a Central Michigan offensive lineman, came to the U.S. as an Offensive Lineman. Jesse Luketa, a former Penn State linebacker, was born in Canada. Daniel Faalele, a massive offensive lineman from Penn State, was first discovered in a satellite football camp in Australia. He then attended Minnesota.

David Ojabo, defensive end/linebacker, was born in Nigeria. He lived in Scotland until he arrived at Blair Academy in New Jersey. Later, he moved to Michigan.

John Metchie III, an Alabama receiver, was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada, before he learned his football skills at a Maryland high-school. Metchie and others have learned lessons from these experiences that transcend football.

Metchie stated, "I believe culture is one the greatest keys to who and what I am today." Metchie said, "Just being around so many people from so many cultures has definitely helped me to become the man that I am today."

It was not an accident that the game evolved from being purely American to one that has international connections. Officials of the League had long ago planned a strategy that included regular-season games in London, Mexico City and Mexico City. Munich will join the international series this autumn, while Tokyo hosted preseason games.

The payoff is here.

Mock drafts show Metchie, Ojabo, and Raimann as potential first-rounders -- along with Ebiketie or Karlaftis. Luketa and Faalele were likely to be second-round picks. Luketa was 6'8" and 384 pounds.

You shouldn't think that the international train will stop any time soon. Luketa, who is a Metchie's teammate on Team Ottawa, hopes that he will join Josh Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers running back, and Chuba Hubbard, Carolina running back, as fellow Canadians on NFL rosters. He believes that there are many more.

Luketa stated, "We're everywhere." "Canada has a lot of talent. It is amazing to be able shine that light back home and be in this position. It's much larger than we are. Canada has so much talent, but not everyone has the chance to use it.

It could be that not everyone follows the same traditional route.

Ojabo was a soccer player and played basketball before he tried football. Raimann played soccer up to age 14. Karlaftis, a strong water-polo player, made it to the Greek national team. He stayed to complete the season, before heading to West Lafayette, Indiana to be with his family after the sudden death his father.

After Ebiketie was assigned to the American embassy as his father, the 6-2, 250-pound pass-rusher played basketball, competed in high jump, and eventually became a top-flight football player.

Now, each person has the chance to share their passion with others by taking another step on their amazing journeys.

Ebiketie stated that football was her sophomore year in high school. "I was naturally an athlete, so it wasn't a problem. Learning the rules was the most important thing. Once I did that, everything kind of fell into place."

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