Although there is no minimum age to be a professional football player, the NFL requires its players to be out of high school for at least three years before they are eligible to play. So the question is… Who could be the youngest player in NFL?
So far, the youngest player to ever get drafted into the NFL was Amobi Okoye. He was drafted 10th overall by the Houston Texans at age 19, last 2007.
On the other hand, Brandon Weeden was the oldest player to ever get drafted into the NFL modern draft era. He was drafted 22nd overall at 28 years old by the Cleveland Browns in 2012.
Amobi Okoye Summary
Amobi Okoye was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Houston Texans. He’s still considered as the youngest player—he was 19 years 10 months 18 days old, to be exact—to ever be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.
He was born on the 10th of June 1987 in Anambra State, Nigeria, and is a member of the Igbo ethnic group. He is a Nigerian-American defensive tackle of American football who is currently a free agent.
Okoye’s Early Years
At 12 years old, he moved to Huntsville, Alabama in the United States. As a sophomore at Lee High School, he first started playing football without knowing a thing about the game until his high school coach asked him to play Madden NFL football so he could learn. He won first-team All-State honors as a defensive and offensive lineman during his senior year.
To play for a strong football program, Okoye chose to attend the University of Louisville over Harvard at age 15. He majored in Biology and later on switched his major to Psychology in which he graduated a semester early. He completed his degree in three and a half years. At the age of 16, he became the youngest player in the NCAA.
Being the NCAA’s youngest senior at 19 years old, he gathered first-round draft status during the season. His stock rose dramatically with strong practice and game performances during the Senior Bowl.
Okoye’s Professional Career
Since the AFL-NFL merger, Okoye was the highest draft pick from the University of Louisville. He began training with his teammates the next day after he signed a five-year deal with the Texans on July 26. After four seasons in Houston, he was released on the 30th of July 2011. On that same date, Okoye signed with the Chicago Bears.
Almost a year later, on the 7th of April 2012, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, Okoye returned to the Bears on August 31, 2012, and signed a one-year contract on the 3rd of September. He was waived on November 27, 2012, but was eventually brought back on the 12th of December.
Other Young NFL Players
As the old saying goes, age is nothing but a number. Below are three other players that manage to break into the league before the age of 22:
- Danielle Hunter
- Tremaine Edmunds
- Juju Smith-Schuster
Danielle Hunter, 19 Years Old – Drafted In 2015
The Jamaican-American defensive end, Danielle Hunter, was also drafted at the age of 19 and started playing at that same year for the Vikings. At just 17, Hunter started his freshman season at LSU. For this reason, he was able to break into the league at such a young age. Even if he was the youngest player in the NFL, he immediately earned a rotational role on defense and finished second among all NFL rookies as well as in the team in sacks with 6.
Tremaine Edmunds, 19 Years Old – Drafted In 2018
At the age of 19, Tremaine Edmunds was drafted by the Bills in the first round of the 2018 draft. He became the second-youngest player to be drafted in NFL history at 19 years 11 months 24 days old, just second to Amobi Okoye. Fighting against the Ravens in a Bills uniform made him the second-youngest NFL player to ever play. At the age of 20, he then became the youngest NFL player ever to record an interception. This was during his 14th-week start against the Jets.
Juju Smith-Schuster, 20 Years Old – Drafted In 2017
Juju Smith-Schuster is known for setting many age-related records in the NFL. This includes being the youngest player to ever reach 2,500 career receiving yards. Additionally, he’s the first player to have two offensive touchdowns of at least 97 yards.
At just 23, he already has several Steelers franchise records as well. After being drafted in 2017, Schuster has compiled an awesome NFL resume including 18 TD’s and almost 3,000 receiving yards at 23 years old.
Teams nowadays desire younger players. Having younger players indicate more stamina and endurance, which increases the team’s chance of success. What do you think about this? Do you think players should have more experience before entering the league? Or do you agree that younger players can carry a team to victory? Comment what you think!