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Giants Now: NFL announces International Player Pathway Program Class of 2024


NFL announces International Player Pathway Program Class of 2024

The National Football League has announced its International Player Pathway (IPP) program Class of 2024, featuring 11 athletes from around the world and a first-ever group of five specialists from England and Ireland.

Established in 2017, the IPP program aims to provide elite international athletes with the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills and ultimately work to earn a spot on an NFL roster.

The Giants have had some recent history with the IPP. Running back Sandro Platzgummer was assigned to the team in 2020 as part of the program, and the Austrian-native went on to spend three seasons on the Giants' practice squad. The Giants signed Roy Mbaeteka from the IPP in 2022, which led to the offensive tackle from Nigeria spending part of the 2022 season on the team's practice squad.

The IPP Class of 2024, including the program's first-ever specialists, spans talent from eight nations and represents a total of 16 players transitioning to the sport of American football.

Athletes come from various sporting backgrounds including rugby, basketball, track, Gaelic football and Australian football, among others — showcasing how diverse sporting experience and capabilities can continue to enable the impact of international player pathways in enriching the fabric of the league.

"We are thrilled to welcome the International Player Pathway program Class of 2024," said Peter O'Reilly, executive vice president international, club business and major events at the NFL. "As we focus on the global growth of the game, expanding international talent within the NFL is critical — connecting our sport with fans across the world. The 2024 program participants are an elite, diverse group of athletes and we look forward to following their journeys in the months ahead."

"The IPP Class of 2024 presents a group of incredibly talented athletes from diverse sporting backgrounds and nations across the globe," said Osi Umenyiora, who is spearheading the NFL's Africa program. "Our international football development programs at the NFL offer life-changing opportunities for talent, and will only continue to impact the league this season and in the seasons ahead. This is only the beginning for these players, and we look forward to sharing their stories and the game of football with the world."  

Since its inception, 37 international players have signed with NFL teams (allocated, drafted or signed as a free agent), with 18 IPP athletes currently on NFL rosters. Five players - Jordan Mailata, Jakob Johnson, Efe Obada, Sammis Reyes and David Bada – have seen active rosters with the Philadelphia Eagles, Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders, since the program began in 2017.

Players will begin training in the United States in January at IMG Academy and will have the opportunity to showcase their talents to NFL club scouts in March.

At the conclusion of training camp, the group of 16 IPP athletes will be eligible to fill a 17th practice squad roster spot across any of the 32 teams — an additional spot reserved for an international player — following the rule change beginning with the 2024 season applicable to athletes outside of the United States and Canada.

The International Player Pathway Program Class of 2024 includes:

  • Jotham Russell - Australia
  • Patrick Murtagh - Australia
  • Florian Bierbaumer - Austria
  • Bayron Matos - Dominican Republic
  • George Smith - England
  • Travis Clayton - England
  • Harry Mallinder - England
  • Mark Jackson - Ireland
  • Charlie Smyth - Ireland
  • Darragh Leader - Ireland
  • Rory Beggan - Ireland
  • Sam Orji - Nigeria
  • Isaac Ajanah - Nigeria
  • Udo Uzuegbu - Nigeria
  • Praise Olatoke - Nigeria/Scotland
  • Louis Rees-Zammit - Wales

View photos of the New York Giants' 2023 rookie class in action.


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