INDIANAPOLIS–In 2016, Chuma Edoga was ejected in the first series against Utah State for making contact with an official. Edoga was only a sophomore at the time, but the incident has followed him ever since.
At the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, Edoga wants teams to know that he is not the same kid who put his hands on a referee. Instead, he is a player that is willing to switch positions on the fly and win football games.
“I was a young kid. I let my emotions get the best of me,” Edoga said of his mistakes. “But, going forward, I can’t let that affect my future and who I’m going to grow into.”
Following the incident, some may have labeled Edoga as immature or perhaps a bad teammate. In the games and seasons after his ejection, Edoga has learned how to mature from his coaches and teammates. In particular, Edoga leaned on head coach Clay Helton, who became a father figure to him, as his father passed away in high school.
“I feel like [Helton] really helped me become a man,” Edoga said. “I looked to Helton as a real father figure in my life, going to him for advice and stuff like that.”
Edoga also took advice from former teammate and current New York Giants tackle Chad Wheeler.
“I feel like we kinda had some of the same instances happen in our lives,” Edoga said. “He went through a lot of hardships in his career, but he really bounced back. I really look to him for inspiration.”
Receiving advice and guidance from coaches and players required Edoga to open up, something he had not done up until that point.
“Opening up and really asking them for advice and words of wisdom really helped me,” He said.
Despite the number of hardships that Edoga has faced in his life both on and off the field, he has not let them bring him down.
“I can’t let those things define me,” Edoga said. “I just have to use them as learning experiences and just grow from them.”
As Edoga’s personality matured, so did his play. Over his four years with USC, Edoga played in 44 games. He served as a vital part of USC’s offense helping block for three different quarterbacks, under two head coaches and three different offensive line coaches.
“I feel like I got little instances from each and every one of [my offensive line coaches] that really helped me to learn different schemes and stuff like that that maybe these NFL teams run,” Edoga said.
Edoga excelled at his position, having been named to the 2018 All-Pac-12 Second Team and the 2019 Senior Bowl.
At the Senior Bowl, Edoga earned Practice Player of the Week honors.
Edoga was joined at the Senior Bowl by former teammates Cameron Smith, Marvell Tell III, Iman Marshall, who were also invited to the Combine.
“I feel like it was a great honor, there was a lot of top guys there, especially at the tackle position,” Edoga said. “To be able to be singled out as one of the best practice players, it was just a real blessing and honor for me.”
On Saturday, Edoga participated in a handful of drills at the Combine including the 40-yard dash and bench press. Edoga ran a 5.19 40 and hit 21 reps on the bench press. His 40 was .1 seconds faster than NFL analyst Gil Brandt’s target test results for an offensive tackle; he was just three reps shy of Brandt’s target but told reporters that he is currently working on continuing to build his strength and hone in on his technique.
“There’s still a lot of room to climb on this mountain when you’re heading up to the top,” Edoga said. “But, you know, I’m really at the bottom.”
His near-six draft grades puts him at the “chance to become an NFL starter” level, per NFL prospect grades, and various teams including the Green Bay Packers have already held informal interviews with him.
While Edoga would fit in with the Bengals, he is ready to contribute to any NFL team and is willing to switch positions including shifting to guard.
“I’ll play for whoever pick me up, really,” Edoga asserted. Still, getting drafted by the Atlanta Falcons from his native state of Georgia would be a nice draft day present. “I would love to go back and go back home, be close to my mom, close to all my friends and family and represent the Atlanta Falcons.”