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5 Things to Know About London Native Jermaine Eluemunor


When the Ravens land in England ahead of Sunday's game at Wembley Stadium, a backup rookie offensive lineman who hasn't played a snap may be the team's most popular player.

Jermaine Eluemunor was born in London, discovered football at 11 years old, moved to the States three years later to chase that dream and is now going back to England for the first time as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

Here are five things to know about the Ravens' fifth-round pick:

1) He is literally a byproduct of the NFL's International Series

Eluemunor is the poster child for how the NFL's International Series has expanded interest in the game abroad.

Eluemunor discovered football at 11 years old when he was flipping through the channels looking for an Arsenal soccer game. He stumbled upon the first NFL game played in London between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants in 2007.

"What is this?" he thought. He got off the couch and moved closer to the TV.

"All the hitting and everyone wearing all these colors," Eluemunor said, listing what stood out. "People who were jacked up with all these funny haircuts wearing these funny helmets with facemasks and everything. I was like, 'What is going on right now?'"

Eluemunor got excited and wanted more information, so he turned to Google. He Googled "American football." Then he Googled "College football" to try to find out how he could get a scholarship. He was already planning his path to the NFL before he ever played a down.

2) He moved to the States at 14 years old just to play football

Like many big-bodied kids looking for high-contact sports in England, Eluemunor played rugby growing up. He tried flag football, but didn't like it and quit. He wanted the real thing.

When he was 14 years old, Eluemunor's father, John, approached him with the idea of moving to the United States. John wanted to provide more educational opportunities for his son.

"Me, personally, [football] was the only reason I came over here," Jermaine said. "I felt like my best chances at being successful in life was coming to America and playing American football. My thing was, if I'm going to go for this, I have to put everything I have into it."

Jermaine and John moved to Denville, N.J., but left his mother and two siblings behind in London. Jermaine lived with his aunt while John lived an hour-and-a-half away where jobs were more plentiful and would allow him to send more money across the Atlantic to his family.

Things were tough, and when Jermaine and John flew back to London for Christmas break in 2011, John told Jermaine that he didn't want to go back to the States. He missed his family too much.

"I begged him to come back," Jermaine said. "I was like, 'Just give me the opportunity to make it and I promise I'll make it. I promise you I'll graduate. I promise you I'll make something [of myself].' I knew America was for me."

Jermaine and John came back to New Jersey, but they didn't see the rest of the family for two years. That emotional departure at the airport six years ago was the last time Jermaine was home.

"If my dad didn't take that chance on me, I wouldn't be here," Jermaine said.

3) He paved his own path in football

Having hardly played the sport when he arrived in America, Eluemunor had the size but was quite raw.

"I was so bad. Oh my goodness," Eluemunor said. "The other kids would say, 'If I had your size, I would go Division-I so easily.' I took that to heart."

Eluemunor got an opportunity as a walk-on at Lackawanna College (junior college) by sending out his high school highlight tape himself. He spent two years there before once again putting together his own clips and sending them around the country looking for a higher-profile school.

This time, Eluemunor drew interest from all the big-time programs. He picked Texas A&M, hoping to follow in the footsteps of other offensive linemen such as Luke Joeckel (Jaguars), Jake Matthews (Falcons) and Cedric Ogbuehi (Bengals).

Eluemunor started for just one season, but flashed enough to become an NFL draft pick.

"All I needed was an opportunity," Eluemunor said. "That's all I needed in life."

4) He wants to be a "bridge" for other foreign kids

Eluemunor is one of just five British-born players in the NFL, joining Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, Broncos offensive tackle Menelik Watson, Falcons defensive tackle Jack Crawford and Falcons tight end Alex Gray.

Eluemunor can't wait to walk into Wembley Stadium and have an 11-year-old British kid, just like he was when he discovered football, see him living his dream.

"I feel like I'm meant to be a bridge," Eluemunor said. "You don't have to be from America or born in America to play in the NFL. You can be from any country around the world."

Eluemunor said he wants to go down as one of the best to ever play the game at his position, but the ultimate reward would be to impact another kid's life.

"I want that 11 year old in the stands to be like, 'Why can't I be like him?'" he said. "Then come to find out 12 years later, he's the next big thing because he saw what I did. There would be nothing sweeter than that."

5) He's still British at heart

While Eluemunor's British accent only occasionally can be heard, he's still very much a Brit at heart.

When he hears the word "football," he still immediately thinks of what Americans call soccer. He avoids saying the word "soccer" at all costs.

Eluemunor prefers fish and chips to crab cakes, but he doesn't know the British drama series "Downton Abbey." He thinks rugby requires more toughness than football.

"You're hitting without pads," he said. "In rugby, you see people with no teeth. When you see people with tape around their head, that's because they cut their head open and they just put tape around it to go play."

Funny Pages author Ben Rosen illustrated player cards for many of the Ravens rookies, including a monocle'd Tim Williams and Jermaine Eluemunor in a shark suit. Check 'em out.

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