Eligwe hopes to join a growing list of NFL Eagles in April

Jerell Rushin

Between April 27 and 29, Georgia Southern’s own Ukeme Eligwe could make himself a very rich man in the 2017 NFL Draft. The talented 6’2 and 239 lb. linebacker has a strong chance of hearing his name called during the draft’s return to Philadelphia.

Eligwe’s journey has not been ideal, but he has put himself in a position where he can succeed. Before he played his first down for the Eagles, Eligwe already had valuable experience under his belt. He began his college career in 2012 at Florida State University, where he redshirted his first year along with former Heisman-winner Jameis Winston. Eligwe would enjoy the taste of winning early, as he and FSU won the final BCS National Championship the following year after the 2013 season. He appeared in 13 of their 14 games during their championship run, and recorded 18 solo tackles and two sacks.

Midway through his injury-riddled 2014 season, Eligwe was dismissed from FSU for an undisclosed violation of team rules and made the switch to GS during the 2015 summer. However, due to NCAA transfer rules, he was forced to sit out the 2015 season. That would make virtually three out of four seasons during his college career in which he did not complete a full season on the field.

During his first year on the field at GS, Eligwe undoubtedly had the best season of anyone on a team, which included standouts from years past, such as Kevin Ellison, Matt Breida, and Ironhead Gallon. Eligwe recorded three forced-fumbles, 2.5 sacks, and a team-leading 104 tackles during the 2016 season. In the Eagles’ most impressive game, Eligwe recorded 18 tackles in the season finale against an impressive Troy team. His performances were rewarded as he made the Sun Belt’s All-Newcomer team.

“Thank you, Georgia Southern, for giving me some of the best years of my life. My college career had its ups and downs, but nevertheless I am thankful to have finished strong at an institution filled with tradition and winning ways,” Eligwe said. “The Eagle Walk, the Valley Song on the yellow buses and the hard work grinding it out with my brothers will never be forgotten, and I am forever thankful for the opportunity I was given to play in Statesboro. GATA.”

If he is indeed drafted in late April, Eligwe will be just the 13th Eagle ever drafted and the fifth Eagle to hear his name called within the past five drafts. Georgia Southern has had the most players taken in the NFL Draft out of all current Sun Belt teams since 2013.