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Meet Praise Olatoke, track star aiming for NFL after moving to Scotland as a kid

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NFL prospect Praise Olatoke has been on a globe-trotting adventure ever since he was a young child.

The Ohio State track star moved from Nigeria to Scotland with his family when he was 5 years old, and he has since uprooted to Canada and the United States as a college student.

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Praise Olatoke competes for the Great Britain athletics team in 2019Credit: Getty
Olatoke is now part of the NFL International Pathway Program

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Olatoke is now part of the NFL International Pathway ProgramCredit: NFL
The Ohio State track star is hoping to make it in the NFL as a wide receiver

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The Ohio State track star is hoping to make it in the NFL as a wide receiverCredit: NFL

But Olatoke now has a final destination in sight for his incredible international sporting journey – to make an NFL roster.

The 23-year-old is one of 16 athletes from eight nations taking part in the league’s International Pathway Program this year.

The wide receiver is in the middle of a 10-week training camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and will look to show his worth to NFL scouts on March 20.

It has been an amazing adventure for an athlete who chased the American dream as a child while growing up in Glasgow.

“I’ve always enjoyed traveling and I’ve always wanted to live a life with the most adventure as possible,” Olatoke told The U.S. Sun. 

“When I was young, I’d tell my parents I’m going to move to America. I didn’t know where America was. 

“I didn’t know why, but it was always a dream of mine. So it’s part of my story to get to America.”

Olatoke’s magical mystery tour began when he moved from Nigeria to Scotland to meet up with his dad, who had secured a job with the Royal Bank of Scotland after earning a master’s degree in England.

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“I remember that day, leaving Nigeria. Family was at the airport, people were crying,” Olatoke recalls. 

“I barely knew what was going on, but I remember sort of sitting in the plane, it was a Virgin Atlantic flight. 

“I remember eating the food touching down in Scotland and it was June-time, mid-June just before my birthday. 

“And I remember the day when we landed, we go to a little flat in Kinning Park in Glasgow. 

“My dad had got me football blinds. They were green with a bunch of like football stripes on it. 

“I remember seeing that and thinking that’s the sickest thing I’ve ever seen. 

“And it was my own room and the curtains matched the bedsheets. And I thought, ‘Yeah, this it, life could not get better.'”

Olatoke was a gifted athlete growing up, excelling at rugby and athletics.

He was named Scotland’s Under-20 athlete of the year in 2019 and qualified to represent the United Kingdom at the 2020 European Athletics U20 Championships.

Olatoke had realistic dreams of competing in the Commonwealth Games and Olympics, and took his talents to Trinity Western University in Canada before transferring to powerhouse Ohio State.

His best times were 10.27 seconds in the 100 meters and 20.69 seconds in the 200 meters.

Olatoke played for the Ohio State Club Football team

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Olatoke played for the Ohio State Club Football teamCredit: Instagram/praiseolatoke
Olatoke tells The U.S. Sun about his journey from Nigeria to the United States via Scotland and Canada

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Olatoke tells The U.S. Sun about his journey from Nigeria to the United States via Scotland and CanadaCredit: The U.S. Sun
Olatoke is interested in taking part in flag football at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics

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Olatoke is interested in taking part in flag football at the Los Angeles 2028 OlympicsCredit: NFL

But he always dreamed of becoming an American football star, no matter how unlikely it seemed at the time.

“When I got to Canada, I told my coach, Jamie Sinclair, ‘I want to play American football,'” Olatoke said.

“So, I was in Canada for two years, ran track and I got the opportunity to go to Ohio State to run track again.

“One of the things that attracted me to Ohio State is that they had a big football program and I felt if I’m at least in the room, if I’m at least around football, that just gives me a better chance to actually play.”

Olatoke got into the sport by competing for the Ohio State Club Football team, catching seven passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns in 2022.

“One thing led to another and now we’re here on the cusp of the NFL,” he notes.

Injuries got in the way of Olatoke’s athletics career with Scotland – and he is surprisingly grateful for it.

“The Olympics was one of my main goals; Commonwealth Games was a goal,” he says.

“But honestly, gratefully enough, it never happened for me because if I went down that track, I’d never be playing football now.”

Olatoke made his way onto the IPP after reaching out to several contacts to register his interest, which led to a trial.

He admits he has been on a huge learning curve in the sport.

“I’m used to just running a straight line as fast as I can, as hard as I can,” he says. 

“But football is very cerebral. You have to think on the fly while you’re thinking you also have to catch the ball and then think some more. 

“There’s a lot of thinking that goes on to it, but it’s also really fun and the team aspect is something I love as well… 

“Being around people and being able to push each other and sort of that kind of thing. I love that.”

Olatoke has his sights set on making an NFL active roster but he is also keen on taking part in flag football for Great Britain in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“Yeah, that’d be sick,” he says. 

“I’d love the opportunity to play for GB in the Olympics. I think that would sort of give me my Olympic dreams. 

“And also if I play in the NFL, I get the best of both worlds.”

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