FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Foyesade Oluokun has a little edginess in his tone and it’s not because folks often mispronounce his name.
The Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker from Yale knows there’s an undesirable label that follows him into the NFL; one that says Ivy League players are highly intelligent but not necessarily high-caliber athletes.
“Once they see you in the Ivy League, they shut off their brains like, ‘These are not athletes like other schools are used to playing.’ That’s the stigma,” Oluokun said. “I don’t like it, personally, because I think there are a lot of athletes in the Ivy League. And long as we get our opportunity, is what it comes down to in the end. Yes, you kind of have to work harder for it. But hopefully, people are waking up to us.”
Oluokun, a sixth-round draft pick, joined fifth-round wide receiver Justin Watson of Penn — drafted by Tampa Bay — as the only Ivy League players selected in this year’s draft. It marked the 46th time multiple Ivy Leaguers have been drafted but the first time since 2013, when the trio of JC Tretter (Cornell), Kyle Juszczyk (Harvard) and Mike Catapano (Princeton) were selected by Green Bay, Baltimore and Kansas City, respectively. Twelve former Ivy League players were on active NFL rosters last season with two of them, fullbacks Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers and James Develin of the New England Patriots, earning Pro Bowl status. READ MORE>