JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jakob Johnson’s unique football path is taking him to the NFL.
The Ribault High School product signed with the New England Patriots on Monday through the NFL’s International Pathway Program. The program is designed to help international players to reach the league. Johnson was one of seven players selected for the second-year program. The signing was announced on the NFL's Germany Twitter account.
Johnson’s story is a unique one.
Johnson, now a 6-5, 285-pound tight end/fullback, spent the bulk of his teenage years playing with the German Football League on the U19 Stuttgart Scorpions. But he loved watching college and NFL games on television and thought perhaps he could do the same one day.
Colleges weren’t just going to offer an overseas player without seeing how they played against American competition, thus the plan for Johnson to come to the U.S. began. He arrived in Jacksonville in the summer of 2013 and enrolled at Ribault. It didn’t take long for Johnson to get his first college offer and others quickly followed.
He signed with Tennessee and played four seasons with the Volunteers, moving from linebacker to tight end at the end of his sophomore season. After graduating from Tennessee and going undrafted last year, Johnson returned to Germany to play football.
Johnson had 43 catches for 474 yards and four touchdowns last year with the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League. Through the Pathway Program, players have a shot at making the 53-man roster. If they don't, they can be placed as the 11th member of a team's practice squad, although that designation doesn't allow them to be promoted to the team during the season.