One game on the Ravens' 2023 schedule will take David Ojabo closer to his roots.
The second-year linebacker is highly anticipating Week 6 (Oct. 15), when the Ravens travel to London to face the Titans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in one of the NFL's five 2023 International Games. Ojabo was born in Nigeria but lived in Scotland for eight years (ages 7-15) with his family. He then moved to the United States to pursue education and athletics.
Ojabo has many friends and family who live in Scotland, London, or Nigeria who are planning to take advantage of a closer opportunity to see him play in person. While he couldn't be more excited, Ojabo sees one potential problem – getting enough tickets.
"Man, I'll probably be broke after that game," Ojabo said laughing. "Everybody's going to pop out. The whole city's going to pop out. But it's something that doesn't happen too often. You want to make sure people have a chance to see it.
"I feel like it's a testament to destiny. From me getting drafted here, to now having a chance to play back home in my first year when I'm really getting a chance to play? It's obviously a blessing. God is real."
Ojabo is part of a growing number of NFL players with international backgrounds. He was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, but after his parents moved the family to Scotland, Ojabo transitioned well and became a standout youth basketball player.
"In a lot of ways, that's where I grew up, in Scotland," Ojabo said. "It's a different vibe over there. You really have to be there and experience it to feel it. But it's a great environment."
It became Ojabo's dream to play basketball in the United States, so entering the ninth grade his family sent him to Blair Academy, a boarding school in Blairstown, N.J. The Blair basketball team was strong and Ojabo couldn't break into the starting lineup. In the 11th grade he finally tried football, following the path of his close friend, Ravens outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, a Blair teammate who also made a late transition from basketball to football.
Ojabo's rapid rise from raw football player to the NFL has been remarkable. After he became a star pass rusher at the University of Michigan, ESPN's NFL Gameday profiled Ojabo's journey from his beginnings in Nigeria.
Being drafted by the Ravens reunited OJabo andOweh, and Ojabo is looking for a breakout year after recovering from an Achilles injury at his Michigan Pro Day in 2022 that limited him as a rookie. He played just 23 defensive snaps in three games, and recorded a sack/strip in his first legitimate game action in the regular-season finale in Cincinnati.
Ojabo is proud to be someone that kids playing football outside of America can look up to.
"It's a movement that's slowly growing over there," Ojabo said. "It's huge to have players like myself and others be able to represent NFL- UK. I know it's going to keep building and building."