A dream 10 years in making, Jermaine Eluemunor set for London homecoming

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When the Baltimore Ravens face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in London, the NFL will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of regular-season games played in England.

It will see a determined and unconventional journey come full circle for Ravens rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor.

As a 12-year-old in a north London suburb, Eluemunor was searching for an Arsenal football match on television when he stumbled upon the first American football game in England that counted. Watching the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins play on a muddy Wembley Stadium field in 2007, Eluemunor became enthralled by the contact of the sport and found a new passion.

"I had the dream of playing in the NFL -- playing in Wembley Stadium one day," Eluemunor said.

Stepping foot into Wembley as the 29th English-born NFL player is just part of Eluemunor's story. His persistence to make this a reality is the more fascinating tale.

After watching his first NFL game, he googled "American football in London." His search led to the London Blitz, a five-on-five flag football team that required a 10-minute bus ride from his home.

Eluemunor had to pay 10 pounds to practice and needed to buy his own jersey, which he didn't have the money for. Instead, he put on an oversized shirt that fit over his shoulder pads.

"It was exciting because I was actually doing what I wanted to do. But it wasn't the same," Eluemunor said. "I wanted to hit and do everything that they were doing on TV."


A couple years later, Eluemunor showed how much he wanted to chase his goal of playing in the NFL when his father, mother, two sisters and brother were vacationing in the United States. Two days before the family was scheduled to return to England, his father asked him whether he wanted to move to America.

Eluemunor's response: "Definitely." His father, though, wasn't as much of a fan.

"I've always supported my kids with whatever they wanted to do, even though I didn't like American football," John Eluemunor, Jermaine's father, told NFL Films earlier this year. "I preferred soccer. But I had to support him."

At the age of 14, Eluemunor moved to Danville, New Jersey, where he discovered how long a road it would be to the NFL. He didn't know where to line up, and he called his uniform "a kit."

As a senior in high school, Eluemunor sent out a couple hundred emails to every college he could name. The message read: "I haven't been playing football for too long, but I know I can bring something to your team. I know I belong."

The number of schools that replied: zero.

Eluemunor went to Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania, where he started to get noticed from the first day he arrived. In a drill against the best defensive lineman on the team, Eluemunor surprised everyone by battling to a stalemate.

"My thing was I wasn't going to let anyone or anything stand in my way," Eluemunor said. "I had no other choice but to make it."


After two years of developing at junior college, Eluemunor sent a video highlight tape to major colleges and received a different response. Florida State and Ohio State both expressed interest in him before he chose Texas A&M.

Eluemunor was redshirted his first year, and he spent his first two years at as a backup. That changed when former NFL offensive line coach Jim Turner came to Texas A&M for Eluemunor's senior year.

After one season as a starter, Eluemunor began rising up draft boards because of his versatility and potential to get better with more experience. He was ranked as the draft's No. 7 offensive tackle by ESPN's Todd McShay.

Projected to go as high as the third round, Eluemunor was selected by the Ravens in the fifth round.

"You look at him play and see the talent in his body when he is there and moving guys off the line of scrimmage," said Joe Hortiz, the Ravens' director of college scouting. "There is definitely a lot of upside. [There is] a lot to be excited about him."


Injuries along the offensive line allowed Eluemunor to see extensive action in the preseason, including two starts. The Ravens wanted more experienced depth and traded for two veteran backups, which made Eluemunor inactive for the first two games. However, the season-ending injury to Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda on Sunday could create an opportunity for Eluemunor to suit up for a game.

"In all honesty, he was pretty raw when he first got here," coach John Harbaugh said. "The song '500 Miles’ -- it is one of my favorites. He has come 500 miles. He has come that far. He is about ready to play football for us, so we will see what happens."

Although it would be poetic if Eluemunor's first NFL game came at Wembley -- the site of the American football game that inspired his journey -- he isn't dwelling on that potential moment.

"I still have a long way to go. This is where I wanted to get to, but it's not where I want to finish," Eluemunor said. "There's a lot more I can do, and I plan on doing it."