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New York Giants offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu destigmatizes stutter on journey from UNC to NFL :: WRALSportsFan.com


New York Giants rookie offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu stated he regularly thinks about how completely different his life can be had his mother not moved to the U.S. from Nigeria whereas she was pregnant with him.

“It’s very crazy because, like, I have this accent now, but say she would have stayed there, I would sound completely different,” Ezeudu stated.

Ezeudu guesses he would have been a soccer participant.

“The life back there is very different,” Ezeudu stated.

In late April, the Giants chosen the 6-foot, 4-inch, 308-pound offensive lineman out of North Carolina with the 67th decide within the third spherical of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Family and mates cheered on Ezeudu once they heard his identify known as among the many 262 gamers chosen on this yr’s draft. He defined what the second was like for him.

“Honestly, I really don’t even know how it feels. It just…when you hear your name called, you just… I feel like any person would have a different reaction,” Ezeudu stated. “Mine was, I used to be simply, like, in shock nonetheless.

“Like, everything I’ve been working for has finally came [to fruition], and so I was just… I didn’t know how to feel. Like, I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know if I should be happy, if I should be like sad, if I should be crying. I was just like in shock almost. It was a very great experience though, a very great experience. I’m just thankful that I’m blessed too.”

Playing at North Carolina

Throughout Ezeudu’s school profession, he performed a number of positions alongside the Tar Heels’ offensive line.

In the 2021 season, he was an honorable point out All-ACC decide, beginning 9 video games at left guard and two at left deal with.

Despite lacking the primary two video games of the 2020 season with a lower-body harm, Ezeudu made 10 begins (three at proper deal with and 7 at left guard) to obtain third-team All-ACC honors from league coaches.

In 2019, he began seven of the 13 video games he appeared, making two begins at left deal with and 5 at left guard.

In school, Ezeudu performed alongside a number of Tar Heels gamers both within the NFL or about to enter the league. Three different UNC gamers acquired chosen within the 2022 NFL Draft, together with:

  • Quarterback Sam Howell, chosen 144th general by the Washington Commanders
  • Running again Ty Chandler, chosen 169th general by the Minnesota Vikings
  • Offensive lineman Marcus McKethan, chosen 173rd general by the Giants

Ezeudu spoke fondly of rooming with Howell.

“Sam is my brother for life,” Ezeudu stated. “I love Sam.”

Ezeudu defined how Howell ran the ball extra regularly within the 2021 season with the NFL departures of a number of key offensive gamers from the season earlier than similar to receiver Dyami Brown, receiver Dazz Newsome, operating again Javonte Williams and operating again Michael Carter.

“I would always tell Sam, ‘Sam, you can run, but stop taking these hits,’” Ezeudu recalled. “Like, I would scream at Sam in the game, ‘Slide!’”

Howell had 183 speeding makes an attempt for 828 yards and 11 speeding touchdowns, which was considerably larger than the 92 speeding makes an attempt in 2020 and the 94 makes an attempt he had within the 2019 season.

“That’s just how he is,” Ezeudu stated of Howell. “Sam is just a competitor. He is so competitive. In anything we do, he wants to win.”

Ezeudu stated his favourite reminiscence enjoying for the Tar Heels got here within the 2019 season, throughout head coach Mack Brown’s first yr with the group since 1996. At halftime of the 2019 regular-season finale, North Carolina trailed NC State, 10-6. With a 5-6 file, the Tar Heels additionally wanted a highway win to develop into bowl-eligible.

“It was a very rainy game,” Ezeudu stated. “It was raining. The field was bad, so we were falling [and] slipping.”

Ezeudu remembered how loud the Wolfpack followers had been on Nov. 30, 2019, regardless that their group was not bowl-eligible with solely 4 wins.

“They played that game with nothing to lose,” Ezeudu stated.

Ezeudu remembers what Brown advised the group at halftime.

“He told us, like, ‘Y’all, just calm down. Yes, it’s raining right now, but the rain will stop in like five minutes. We already checked the weather,’” Ezeudu recalled. “He calmed the whole team down.”

UNC vs. NCSU

Howell, a freshman on the time, threw for what was on the time a career-best 401 yards. The Tar Heels scored 35 unanswered factors within the second half to develop into bowl eligible for the primary time for the reason that 2016 season.

“It was his his first year back,” Ezeudu stated. “We had two straight dropping seasons and now we’re at a bowl recreation.

“Like, the locker room, it was just a fun time. The game I’m talking about is the video where Coach Brown went viral for doing ‘The Mop’ [dance].”

Even along with his huge recreation expertise over the last three seasons, Ezeudu might have chosen to return to North Carolina for what would have been his redshirt senior season.

“I had to gather a lot of info,” Ezeudu stated about his resolution whether or not to go professional. “I prayed about it a lot.”

Despite Ezeudu’s love for his school teammates, he determined to go professional after praying along with his pastors.

“After that, the answer that God told me was to go to the league,” Ezeudu stated.

Name, Image and Likeness

Starting July 1, 2021, the NCAA put in new laws that allowed student-athletes to monetize their identify, picture and likeness. MK Hustle Sports and Entertainment managing associate Matt Kahn began his company that very same month.

Kahn is an alum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has 9 purchasers from UNC:

  • Football: Ezeudu, Ja’Qurious Conley, Kamari Morales, Storm Duck, Myles Murphy and British Brooks
  • Lacrosse: Chris Gray
  • Men’s basketball: RJ Davis
  • Women’s soccer: Rachel Jones

Kahn had beforehand labored in promoting for D’Arcy Masius Benton and Bowles. He has expertise in model administration with The Coca-Cola Company.

“I thought there was really room for a true marketer because I’ve got 25 years of consumer marketing experience to be in this space and to be much more strategic about helping athletes build their own personal brands,” Kahn stated.

In September 2021, Ezeudu and Kahn started working collectively.

“Josh really appealed to me,” Kahn stated of Ezeudu. “I look for high-character people, and I could just tell he’s got a great heart and a great soul right from the beginning.”

Ezeudu remembered the primary time he spoke with Kahn.

“You could just tell, he really just cared about me,” Ezeudu stated. “As a stutterer too, I used to be making an attempt to not stutter.

“When I did stutter, Matt was just patient with me.”

Growing up, Ezeudu had low self worth as a result of he stuttered.

“I just want to be a role model for, not even for children, but for everybody who has a stutter or has an issue that is keeping them away from being normal,” Ezeudu stated.

As a child, Ezeudu stated he couldn’t recall a star athlete with stuttering issues.

“It takes a lot of courage to come out and to actually put it out there that, ‘Yes, I do stutter and I’m not going to hide it at all,’” Ezeudu stated.

While Ezeudu has Sports Star Inc.’s Jared Fox as his agent to assist negotiate contract within the NFL, Kahn will proceed serving to Ezeudu with advertising and marketing.

Ezeudu plans to file a video on behalf of the National Stuttering Association. The group is internet hosting National Stuttering Awareness Week from May 9-15.

“He can be a lot of inspiration for a lot of people with disabilities, stuttering for sure, but even overcoming adversity, which was what the piece of ‘Good Morning America’ was about,” Kahn stated.

In November 2021, “Good Morning America” profiled how Ezeudu is hoping to encourage children.

“Matt, he’s like an uncle to me,” Ezeudu stated. “He really pushed me out there to talk about my stuttering more because if you would have asked me to do this like eight months, I would’ve told you, ‘no.’”

Ezeudu stated he’s gotten direct messages on Twitter and Instagram from dad and mom whose children are impressed by him.

“Without Matt pushing me to open up, like, I wouldn’t have reached all the kids I’ve reached so far,” Ezeudu stated. “I just love that they have somebody to look up to. They have someone who is… also dealing with the same issues as them.”

Ezeudu is a big sports activities fan. One day, he stated he aspires to have a profession as a sports activities analyst like Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe.

“I’m not going to let my stutter hold me back from pursuing all those opportunities [and] my goals,” Ezeudu stated.

Heading to the Big Apple

Ezeudu comes into the NFL with a probably historic Giants rookie class. It consists of:

  • Oregon defensive finish Kayvon Thibodeaux, the fifth general decide within the 2022 NFL Draft
  • Alabama offensive deal with Evan Neal, the seventh general decide within the draft
  • Kentucky extensive receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, the forty third general decide within the draft
  • LSU cornerback Cor’Dale Flott, the 81st general decide within the draft
  • San Diego State tight finish Daniel Bellinger, the 112nd decide within the draft
  • Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden, the 146th decide within the draft
  • Arizona State defensive deal with D.J. Davidson, the 147th decide within the draft
  • North Carolina offensive lineman Marcus McKethan, the 173rd decide within the draft
  • Cincinnati linebacker Darrian Beavers, the 182nd decide within the draft

“I trained with Wan’Dale [Robinson] at EXOS in Phoenix, so I’ve known him since there and I know how hard he works,” Ezeudu stated. “All these guys are nice guys.

“I can’t wait to be a part of that team. I can’t wait for all of us to build something special.”

Entering the 2022 marketing campaign, the Giants have had 5 consecutive sub-.500 seasons. It’s the rationale the franchise employed new head coach Brian Daboll and new normal supervisor Joe Schoen within the offseason.

In addition to McKethan, the Giants even have a number of different North Carolina gamers on their roster. It consists of extensive receiver Austin Proehl and operating again Antonio Williams. Linebacker Tomon Fox additionally signed as an undrafted free agent.

Ezeudu might compete for a beginning guard place in opposition to free-agent signings Mark Glowinski and Max Garcia.

It’s clear the Giants need to put quarterback Daniel Jones ready to succeed as he enters his fourth and closing yr of his rookie contract. In late April, the Giants declined the fifth-year choice on Jones’ rookie deal for the 2023 season. Jones’ fifth-year choice would have price the Giants $22,384,000 in 2023.

The Giants chosen Jones with the sixth general decide of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Duke, North Carolina’s bitter rival.

It shall be Ezeudu’s job to guard Jones or whoever the Giants determine to play at quarterback.

Between the beginning of rookie minicamp on May 13-15, Ezeudu frolicked in Chapel Hill, figuring out every day with McKethan. The two additionally watched movie collectively and started studying their new NFL playbooks.

Before reporting to New York on May 12, Ezeudu stated he’s going dwelling to see his household in Georgia.

“The Giants are about to get a football player that cares about everything, that knows how to work hard [and] that doesn’t need to be motivated by [anybody] or any outside source,” Ezeudu stated.



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