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Obi Moneke Oozes Potential, Has NFL Teams Interested

Craig Forrestal of NFL Draft Diamonds sits down with former Wingate basketball standout and Nigerian/Australian sensation Obi Moneke.

By Craig Forrestal

We’ve seen it happen before.

Tony Gonzalez.

Antonio Gates.

Julius Thomas.

Jimmy Graham.

And now Obieze “Obi” Moneke is attempting to become the next former high-level basketball player to make the successful crossover to the NFL.

Moneke is blessed with top-notch athleticism and premium size for the TE position. The athleticism is a tribute to a heavy soccer background. A soccer background that was developed all over the world. Moneke is the son of two Nigerian diplomats forcing the family to move depending on where his parents were needed. Along the way, Moneke recalls rich youth experiences from living in Nigeria, Australia, Turkey, Switzerland and America. As a result of his parents’ job duties, Moneke spoke on some of the difficulties of being separated from his family, “There was a period of time where my siblings were with my mother at her posting, and the rest of us stayed with our father. We would get together for Holidays and things along those lines, but it was difficult to be separated.”

Moneke discussed his parents’ positive impact on his life, “My parents always preached the importance of education, and really gave athletics minimum attention. Even when I started to show promise athletically the focus remained on academics. It was understood I would finish my schooling and pursue athletics seriously afterward.” 

By this time Moneke had grown into an intimidating power forward on the court and gained the attention of scouts and coaches. Moneke states that Kevin Garnett was the player he tried to emulate his game after. After careful consideration, Moneke decided to spend a post-grad year at Impact Basketball Academy in Sarasota, FL. Moneke recalled playing against a handful of current NBA players that season most notably Joel Embiid. Playing against high-level competition, Moneke caught the eye of several basketball programs, however, due to eligibility issues faced for already completing a bachelor’s degree at 20 years of age, he elected to attend Wingate University in North Carolina. 

While at Wingate Moneke faced eligibility issues due to his international experience and an injury the day before the 1st preseason game was scheduled. Moneke returned to Australia and was offered the opportunity to try out for the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL. The NBL is one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA, and the Hawks are also the team that basketball prodigy LaMelo Ball recently suited up for during his time in the NBL. After the tryout with the Hawks, Moneke was told he would be best off playing in the NBL Developmental League before joining the team. 

Moneke played in the developmental league for some time but never was called up to Illawarra. During this time Moneke decided to pursue other professional opportunities and transition into football.  During this time Moneke used his accounting degree as he worked for the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) government and founded a security firm during that time as well. 

It is in this transition that Moneke has blossomed into an intriguing football prospect. He has nimble footwork due to his soccer background and has solid anticipation for the ball due to his heavy basketball experience. When Moneke was first transitioning to football he was working as both a DE and TE until it became clear that Moneke best fit on the offensive side of the ball. 

But it should not be surprising that Moneke picked up football so naturally. Moneke recalled two different instances when he was told he should be playing football. The first time was on the campus of Wingate. Moneke took me through a brief encounter with an NFL scout that came to campus and approached Moneke about what position he played on the football team. Moneke informed the scout that he played basketball and Moneke remembers the scout saying that he was playing the wrong sport.

And the second time happened about a year ago. He was approached by someone during a 3-on-3 basketball outing and was told he had “the body of a tight end” and that is when Moneke decided he could not let the opportunity slip away for a second time. 

Moneke poured everything in his being into a crash course on American football, and no that has resulted in a meteoric rise which has even had a few NFL teams reach out and inquire about the nearly 6ft6 specimen. 

Moneke left Australia and has been training in Miami with Bommarito Performance. Moneke has been working out nonstop to be a legitimate NFL prospect and has done this all in one year’s time. Moneke acknowledged that people doubted how successful he could be making a transition to football. Instead of letting the negative talk and skeptics impact him he made sure to remember those moments, “I use that as motivation definitely. I’ve always challenged myself and when I’m told that it is impossible, that is when I dig deeper and push myself until it is possible.”

Moneke said he watched countless hours of film studying the game’s premier TEs like George Kittle, Travis Kelce and David Njoku. The hours of film and studying were not something he dreaded or fought. Moneke stated that if he was not working out or eating he was watching film. While training with Bommarito Performance Moneke mentioned having a dietician dedicated to his specific needs given him world-class instruction on and off the field to best prepare his body for the rigors of the NFL.

All the preparation was supposed to end with a more formal Pro Day workout, but due to limitations presented by the Coronavirus outbreak those plans were no longer feasible. So Moneke worked out with what was available to him and was able to complete all workouts except the bench press.

Below are the results of Moneke’s Pro Day workout in parentheses is where Moneke would have ranked among the TEs at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Pro day measurables:

  • Height: 6057
  • Weight: 255lbs
  • 40yd: 4.60 (TE 2)
  • 10yd split: 1.47
  • 20yd split: 2.60
  • 20yd Shuttle: 4.44 (TE 9)
  • 3 cone/L-drill: 7.44 (TE 12)
  • Vertical: 30.5″
  • Broad jump: 9’10” (TE 8)
  • Benchpress: N/A
  • Wingspan: 6’11”
  • Standing reach: 102″
  • Max vertical jump reach: 133″

“At the end of the day I just want to thank Bommarito Performance; especially Pete. I mean everyone there was amazing and the NFL guys that were training there were helpful and cool with me. My agent for believing in me. To Damond (Talbot) for helping talent like myself get exposure. The whole experience has been great, and now I just want to have my opportunity with an NFL team. I’m ready. I’m a workaholic. Football is my focus,” is how Moneke responded when asked about the overall experience transitioning from basketball to football. 

Pro Day Workout:

Field Work:

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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