What cannot be overlooked about The Uprise is its function as a potential beacon of hope in a society where those that are fortunate enough to go to college struggle mightily to find employment after graduation. Those under Umenyiora and Ugboaja's tutelage could have additional doors opened to them by their participation in the program.
Umenyiora, a former mid-major star, hopes their efforts steer an abundance of prospects to HBCUs, a previously underserved sector of talent that the NFL has made a recent attempt to show more support toward.
"Why does Texas and Oklahoma and Alabama," Umenyiora expressed, "why do they have to have all the five-star athletes? Why can't Troy and FAMU [Florida A&M University] and ... the HBCUs, why can't they have five-star talent also? We can provide that. So, as long as there's demand and we have the athleticism to provide, we're gonna be fine."
Could The Uprise one day cultivate a high school phenom whose signing sends Jackson State-level shockwaves across the country? It's certainly possible, based on what the program has accomplished already.
It was abundantly evident in speaking with Umenyiora that he is as focused on getting players into classrooms as he is getting them into the end zone. When asked to look ahead, he made it clear that the future of the program will be centered around accomplishing that goal.
"If we're able to get hundreds of players into schools in America, a bunch of players into the academy in the UK, prep schools, high schools, colleges, if we're able to get that, that's pretty much the only thing that I'm going to consider a success, and I believe it's very possible, because the level of talent is there," he said.
As for what's up next for The Uprise in 2022, Umenyiora said there are plans to host high-level camps in Kenya, Senegal, Cameroon, Uganda and, of course, Nigeria. He said they are looking at a "bunch of companies to host these camps," but those talks are ongoing.
From there, the top 50 prospects from those sessions will be sent to a NFL-operated camp in Ghana in June, where NFL players and coaches, and potentially a few colleges, are scheduled to be on-site. Only the top 20 will move on to one of the NFL's programs.
Umenyiora said the main camp in Ghana is meant to be a showcase of "what we're all about." So far, the chances of that being a good impression are trending upward.
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