The NFL in the sights for Souleymane Karamoko
To date, three players in the history of the Laval University Rouge et Or have tasted small or large doses of the NFL. Defensive back Souleymane Karamoko becomes the fourth to see the door open, with an invitation to take part in the 2022 international player program.
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In addition to Antony Auclair, who has just completed a first season with the Texans after four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mathieu Betts took part in the Chicago Bears training camp in 2019 and Sébastien Séjean made his place on the St. Louis Rams reserve team 11 years earlier.
As early as July, Karamoko was made aware of the interest of the International Player Pathway Program in him. At the end of November, he knew the door was still open, and on Monday, the invitation was confirmed.
“I was excited from their first message in July, and all season I sent them my videos. I got to talk to coaches about the program and it’s very encouraging. They appreciate my versatility, ”responded the student-athlete from Côte d’Ivoire who holds French nationality, in an interview with The newspaper.
A starter among the grown-ups
From 2004 to 2009, the NFL had set up a first version of the program aimed at finding international athletes to give them an opportunity to break through and thus increase the overall influence of the league.
The program in its current form kicked off in 2017 and a few names have emerged including New England Patriots center-back Jakob Johnson (Germany) and Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jordan Mailata (Australia).
Drafted in 2018, Mailata has since progressed to signing a lucrative four-year contract extension of 64 million in September.
“It’s nice to see that, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean anything because there is no guarantee of breaking into the NFL with an invitation to the program. I still have everything to prove to show that I can play, but I feel in my place, ”said Karamoko.
The defensive back will head to Arizona on January 28 for 10 weeks of camp. There will be 13 guests from nine countries.
Players who do not get a contract will have the opportunity to showcase themselves to the four teams of a division chosen at random and who will organize training sessions to observe them.
For someone who started in France in flag football in 2008 before joining the Filons du Cégep de Thetford Mines in 2016 and the Rouge et Or in 2018, it’s a long way.
“My goal has always been to play pro, but I was thinking more of the CFL. I was hoping for an opportunity like a mini-camp in the NFL, but I couldn’t imagine what is happening today, ”concluded Souleymane Karamoko.
Last fall, the 25-year-old made 28 tackles and knocked down five assists.
In three seasons, he claims 73.5 tackles, 10 knockdowns, one interception and three quarterback sacks.