Jacob Onyechi’s pro football hopes live on, as the 2017 Air Force graduate will get another opportunity with the Green Bay Packers this weekend.
“Shoutout to the (Packers) for inviting me to their rookie mini camp this weekend!” Onyechi wrote on Twitter. “Truly am blessed for the opportunity. It’s a process but I've learned so much since I've left the Academy. Looking forward to what the future holds. Ride with me!”
Onyechi was part of the Falcons football class that worked out in preparation for last year’s NFL Draft with the understanding they would be able to pursue a pro career immediately. However, the Department of Defense reversed that decision in the days leading up to the draft, reverting to the previous policy that requires all graduates to serve at least two years on active duty before applying to fulfill the remainder of their service time on reserve status.
Wide receiver Jalen Robinette, who was expected to be drafted, drew the headlines from this reversal, but Onyechi was very much impacted as well. The outside linebacker had been the breakout star of the Air Force pro day when he ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash and posted a 40-inch vertical leap. He attended mini-camps with the Packers and New Orleans Saints after the draft before beginning his time on active duty at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Now, the Packers are calling for another look at the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Onyechi (using likely outdated measurements), who has posted several workout photos on social media in recent months. In December he said, “The NFL ain't ready for a young kid outta the Academy that everyone overlooked.” In February he noted, “Keep chasing your dreams!”
Onyechi’s path is one taken by other Air Force graduates who eventually chased down their dreams. Players like Ben Garland, Bryce Fisher, Steve Russ and Chris Gizzi did not play for two years while serving their commitment in the Air Force and then made active NFL rosters.