The Giants signed 6-9, 320-pound offensive tackle Roy Mbaitka, a Nigerian national with no high school or college football experience. Mbitka is part of the NFL’s International Track Program and was a participant in the London Scouting Association.
He has also been mentored by former Giants defender Osei Omniora, who is part of the League’s International Bureau in polling and recruiting players.
“Once you see him, you know he’s physically imposing, and in a year or two, if you immerse him in football culture, he’s going to be amazing,” Ominura said in a statement released by the team about 22-year-old Mbitika. .
“The Giants took a chance. I guess there wasn’t much of a chance. When you see him in action, you’ll know what he’s about. He’s huge, strong, physical, very smart, and very athletic. He was built to play offensive tackle in the league.
“In fact, he reminds me a lot of Karim McKenzie (a former interference he played, like Ominora, on Super Bowl XLII and XLVI for the Giants). He has the same temper. He’s a very smart, but very athletic player.”
Ominiora, who was born in London (where he currently resides) and spent part of his youth in Nigeria, was a draft second-round pick by the Giants from Troy University in 2003.
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In his role with the league office, he is trying to help him expand internationally to find player talent, an effort that last year extended to Africa via NFL Africa, part of the league’s International Player Path Program (IPP).
“I realized that there are a lot of great athletes out there — I speak a hundred times better than I did as an athlete,” Omniora said. “And they don’t have a chance to improve their lives, nor a chance to do something constructive with their lives because of the situation there.
“In America and the West, you have opportunities for these guys to do something with all the amazing talent they have. I realized that, and I decided I was going to start a program to help get these guys opportunities in America. We have camps in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal. I have Scouts At these sites, they are looking for the best athletes we can find, and as soon as we find them, we bring them to a site, and we start training with them.”
Omniura Mbatika first spotted camp in Nigeria in May 2021 and was named one of three players who trained at the NFL Academy in London in October. Three months later, Mbitka was one of 13 players selected to compete for a place on the 2022 International Player Path Program. He also got the chance to work with former NFL center LeCharles Bentley to advance his craft as an offensive lineman.
The NFL held a showcase for internationals in Arizona, where Giants scout Jeremy Britt Mbatika discovered. Omniora, who has been keeping an eye on Mbatika’s flight, believes the 22-year-old can find the kind of success found by Australian Jordan Mailata, the Vultures starting left-hander.
“If you have physical traits, you can make that transition fairly easily,” Omniora said. “And I can tell you in Africa, there are hundreds of thousands of people with those qualities who just need a chance, and we’ll give it to them.”