Former Manitoba Bison and current New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata is coming off one of his best games of his young career.
Onyemata posted just his second career multi-sack performance in the Saints’ win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Now in his fifth NFL season, he’s been able to take his game to an all new level.
It’s now been almost a decade since a young, quiet kid from Nigeria strolled into Manitoba Bisons coach Brian Dobie’s office and said he wanted to play football for the first time.
“I look up at my door and almost the entire doorway is filled with this massive body,” Dobie said back in 2012.
“I never played any game, though — like, no game,” Onyemata said after first just joining the Herd.
In just five seasons, Onyemata went from an unknown to winning the J.P. Metras Trophy as Canada’s outstanding down lineman of the year.
And the scouts took notice with the Saints selecting Onyemata in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. And for a kid who had only played for four seasons, it was all a bit overwhelming.
“It’s always gonna be an adjustment, your first time in the league,” Onyemata said from New Orleans on Thursday. “But it’s nothing new to me. I’ve kinda done that my entire life, so I’d say I adjusted well.”
Onyemata just keeps getting better and better. The 28-year-old had two more sacks in last weekend’s Saints’ victory, giving him five sacks, and an interception in nine games this season.
“There’s always going to be improvement to be done, to be made, I think,” he said. “I don’t think there’s ever going to be a perfect play or perfect game. So there’s always going to be improvements to be made.
“I come into every season with the mindset to improve on everything, so that’s the approach I take.”
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Despite being a budding NFL star, Onyemata still hasn’t forgotten his roots, crediting the Herd for helping him make the leap to the big show.
“Having a coaching staff, and the people around me – just the support and the right support system behind me,” said Onyemata. “You know that helped, that really helped me, especially for a guy who came from Nigeria and has been through a little transition.”