Babatunde Aiyegbusi may never play a down in the NFL, but he can lay claim to victory simply for the fact he was in the United States on Wednesday for a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings. (UPDATE: The Vikings signed him Thursday.)
Every year NFL scouts scour the country looking to uncover the league's next gem, and while Aiyegbusi may be far from that at this point, his pro day workout Monday at the University of Texas-San Antonio -- and the fact at least two teams sent personnel evaluators specifically to see him -- created a buzz about this mammoth offensive tackle from Warsaw, Poland.
Much of the fascination revolves around his size. According to the numbers from the pro day workout, he's 6-foot-9, 351 pounds with a 26 1/2-inch vertical jump and 5.28 40-yard dash.
Aiyegbusi never played a down of college football and has spent the last few years playing in the Polish American Football League. Agent Jeff Griffin came into contact with Aiyegbusi through Texas Tech assistant coach Kevin Curtis, a client and former fourth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, who spent two years playing in NFL Europe for the Cologne Centurions.
Curtis received a YouTube video from one of his former coaches in NFL Europe, who happens to work with Aiyegbusi, to see whether Texas Tech would be interested in signing him. The problem was Aiyegbusi, who turns 27 in May, had exhausted his college eligibility by competing in Poland's professional league.
"So Kevin called me, and was like, ‘Hey man, watch this. You're going to call me back,'" Griffin said. "I looked at the video, and I was like, ‘What the heck is that?'"
Griffin called Curtis soon after watching the video to find out how he could get in contact with Aiyegbusi, who up to that point had only talked to Curtis on Skype, which is how the agent made contact with Aiyegbusi.
"He took up the whole screen man," Griffin said of the Skype conversation. "We talked. He told me his story, how he just wanted an opportunity to work out for people. I had three guys I represent down here at the University of Texas-San Antonio, and we had just gotten confirmation there would be 18 to 20 teams out for pro day. So I asked him what we needed to do about getting a visa to get him over here to the States. He said he'd find out."
Over the course of about a week, Aiyegbusi went back and forth with officials in Poland about securing a visa to travel to the United States. Griffin, meanwhile, wrote letters on Aiyegbusi's behalf and received authorization from UTSA for the offensive tackle to participate in the school's pro day, in addition to putting in a call to the league offices to make sure they were correctly handling the situation.
"We secured a visa in about a week and a half," Griffin said. "Normally, it takes a long time, like 10 days for them to sit down and meet with you to discuss you coming over here. But I think everybody in Poland got behind this kid."
Aiyegbusi received his visa on Thursday, March 19. By Saturday, Aiyegbusi was boarding a plane for a 22-hour flight from Poland to San Antonio. Aiyegbusi arrived at 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, and by that afternoon, he was on a football field at UTSA learning from Griffin's other clients scheduled to work out in the drills he'd be performing the next day for NFL scouts.
"We went over those drills for about an hour and a half," Griffin said. "He got up Monday morning and performed those drills. So what you saw, that was raw. He had just learned the day before, then went out there and did it."
So while Aiyegbusi isn't what you'd consider a polished prospect, his performance Monday at UTSA caught the eye of some scouts, according to Griffin, who said several "had him over in the corner talking to him forever. So that's where we are right now."
Since Aiyegbusi's pro day, Griffin said "several teams have called," which led to Wednesday's workout for the Minnesota Vikings. Because Aiyegbusi doesn't have any college eligibility, he won't be a part of the upcoming NFL draft. But he's free to sign now with any team interested.
"Just his size is going to make people interested," said one NFL personnel director, who hasn't yet completed his full assessment of Aiyegbusi. "We sent a scout to that workout."
Apparently, all of them didn't come away impressed, as one NFC East scout who attended the workout called Aiyegbusi "big and stiff," which obviously isn't conducive to success in the NFL when protecting quarterbacks.
An AFC South personnel director said Aiyegbusi, who started out playing basketball before deciding to give football a shot on a recommendation from a friend, is "worth a look-see with the size and measurables alone. He looks raw, but has never done the drills we use. His background in basketball I think makes him interesting. But I've only seen a few small clips [of him playing football]."
At the very least, Aiyegbusi's journey from Poland to the United States serves as one of the many interesting storylines that fly under the radar every year in the NFL.
Aiyegbusi might not make it in the league.
"Still, he's just an amazing story," Griffin said.