Wareham High alum chases NFL dreams on the Seahawks roster

Sep 26, 2022

Growing up in Wareham, Joshua Onujiogu had childhood dreams of joining the National Football League.

Shortly after this past April’s NFL Draft, his dreams came true. He went undrafted, but the Seattle Seahawks then signed him to their roster.

Onujiogu is now a member of the Seahawks’ practice squad. He did not know this upon signing, but his coach can call him up to the main roster on a game day.

The outside linebacker put himself on NFL scouts’ radars when he finished sixth in the nation among NCAA Division III players with 13.5 sacks—tackling the quarterback before he can pass the ball—for the Framingham State University Rams in his 2021 senior season.

His performance earned him the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year award as well as four Defensive Player of the Week awards, and he made the all-conference team.

The Rams did not lose to an opponent in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference en route to an 8-3 overall record that won them first place.

Once Onujiogu performed well at his pro day where NFL scouts watched him work out and practice, he knew all it would take was one of 32 NFL teams to bet on him.

“I understood I’d have the small school banner on my back,” Onujiogu said. “I was just looking for an opportunity. I know the big question was, ‘how’s he going to do against top flight competition from around the world after playing in one of the smallest D-III conferences in the nation?’”

Since joining the team, Onujiogu has fought for everything he’s gained, from a spot at rookie training camp to a spot on the Seahawks’ main 53-man roster. He earned the 53-man roster spot before the Seahawks released him and signed him to the practice squad to make room for a player with NFL experience.

Onujiogu has developed a routine since joining the Seahawks. He arrives at the practice facility at 6 a.m. and leaves at 5 p.m.—meetings, workouts, film sessions, meals, and, of course, practice occupies his 11-hour day.

As a practice squad player, the amount of action Onujiogu sees in practice depends on team injuries. If someone in his position group needs time to heal, Onujiogu will step in.

“It teaches you how to understand the game and prepare for a game without getting so many reps,” Onujiogu said, referring to how starters on the team run the most plays in practice. “It’s a lot of mental reps and taking care of your body, so when your number is called, you show you’re ready and have been paying attention.”

Onujiogu constantly learns when he’s at work. The detail-oriented nature of the NFL means he spends lots of time in meetings and watching film of future opponents. He enjoys seeing that side of the game and picking the brain of Aaron Curry, the former Seahawks linebacker who serves as the team’s defensive line coach.

“As a football player, I never had things handed to me like other players get from high school to college,” Onujiogu said. “It makes me a better player now.”