With each passing day, and text messages and phone calls from scouts, former Texas Southern defensive lineman Michael Badejo can sense his NFL aspirations coming closer to reality.
Badejo has been receiving quite a bit of attention from NFL scouts these last few weeks, especially after putting up some impressive numbers during last month’s Pro Day at TSU. The phone calls are coming from all over the league.
The Texans have shown some interest in the 6-foot-2, 265 down lineman, as have the Titans, Seahawks, Ravens, Broncos, Jets, 49ers, Jaguars, Bears and Panthers. Badejo is hopeful he will hear his name called at any point during the upcoming NFL Draft that will be held April 28-30 or soon after.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he said. “Just being a kid sitting down, watching Sunday football all of the time and as I get closer and closer to the opportunity to actually showcase my skills and coming from an HBCU, it’s just huge.”
Badejo has been putting in the work and making the rounds since his college career ended this past winter. He signed on with Ocean View Sports agency and has been training under James Jefferson at LJ Performance here in Houston.
But there is no doubt Badejo has benefitted from the NFL’s seeming renewed interest in Black College Football. He spent a week in the presence of NFL scouts, coaches and brass during the inaugural Legacy Bowl, which is an All-Star Game designed to get students from HBCU’s a better look from the NFL.
Then last month during the Pro Day at his school, Badejo got a chance to put on a showcase in the comforts of home and he definitely did not disappoint. He ran a 4.8 in the 40-yard dash, posted a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-inch broad jump.
It wasn’t long after that the attention started to turn up.
“We were doing all of that then came to Pro Day and all my numbers came out pretty much pretty good,” said Badejo, who began his college career at SMU before transferring to TSU. “Obviously, I’m never satisfied … I expected more but the numbers I came out with to the point where I had a building of scouts hitting me pretty every day, phone calls every day. They are calling my agency, my agency is calling me, three-way calling.”
Badejo has even received some interest from the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. So it feels good to have some options.
“It’s a blessing really,” he said. “It’s like a fantasy to even be in this position coming out of an HBCU. It was always hard to get recognition and the fact that I’m getting right now.”
Badejo, who is also headed for graduation with an MBA in Business Marketing from TSU on May 14, says scouts have talked to him about his academic achievements and the likelihood of his becoming more of a pass-rushing outside linebacker, most likely in a 3-4 defensive scheme.
“The majority of the time when we are talking to them, we are talking about my school stuff, GPA and me graduating early and pursuing my Masters,” said Badejo, who recorded 80 tackles (41 solo), 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles while twice being named to the All-SWAC second team during his TSU career. “They know that I’m the kind of guy that puts school before being an athlete.”
For Badejo, he is also extremely proud to be part of this movement to give HBCU student-athletes more attention.
“This is the perfect time before the spark goes out with HBCUs getting a lot of likes,” he said. “I’m able to be a part of this and I hope this train goes for a long time so that it gives kids coming from high schools and jucos the option to choose HBCU and not just Power 5 schools.”