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Adongo Follows Conviction to Anderson

Posted Jul 27, 2013

About three weeks ago, rugby star Daniel Adongo got an email from the Indianapolis Colts inquiring about his interest in playing linebacker. The 23-year-old never had been to the United States. Now, he is in training camp at Anderson University.



ANDERSON – Some people follow convictions that have led them across the globe.

 

It is no stretch to say that about Colts outside linebacker Daniel Adongo.  In fact, it very much is reality.

 

About three weeks ago, Adongo was contacted by the Colts.  It got his attention.

 

“If you get an email from a team, you definitely know they’re not kidding,” said Adongo.  “I was in South Africa.  We started discussing a few things on email.  We had emails here and there.

 

“When everything transpired, everything happened so quickly.  I took everything in and signed on the dotted line.”

 

With that, Adongo changed from NPC rugby to NFL football, from loose forward to outside linebacker, from his native land to the United States – where he never had been previously.  

 

Adongo flew 16 hours from Johannesburg to Atlanta, waited two hours (what better way to get acquainted with a new country?) then flew to Indianapolis, arriving last Tuesday.

 

“Being the person that I am, I went with my gut feeling,” said Adongo.  “If something feels right, I’m not going to doubt myself.  I’m going to go for it immediately.  Rugby is always going to be big.  This feels right to me.”

 

Part of “feeling right” for a football player is getting the proper pads.  Getting fitted correctly for a helmet was a new experience.  There will be many for Adongo.

 

“Everything is going to be pretty new to me,” smiled Adongo in a small swarm of reporters upon reaching camp.

 

Adongo is the first Kenyan national to try this transition.  There are other foreign-born players like him in the NFL, even one in Colts camp – Bjoern Werner.

 

Werner, the club’s top draft pick, played prep ball in Connecticut after growing up in Germany.  The Berlin native then attended Florida State.

 

Werner has worked all spring with the club.  He will be watching Adongo practice on Sunday, his sixth day on American soil.

 

“Yes, definitely.  I like to see the national players doing good.  I’m one of them,” said Werner.  “There’s only a few guys.  You want the sport to grow.  More countries are joining and coming over.

 

“We have great coaches and coaches on the field like Robert Mathis and Cory Redding.  They did it with me.  It’s good the whole team approach of working together and having one goal.  He’s (Adongo) in a good organization.”

 

In April, Werner was one of 10 foreign-born players drafted by NFL teams.  He joined Ziggy Ansah (Ghana, Detroit, 5th overall), Star Lotulelei (Tonga, Carolina, 14th), Menelik Watson (England, Oakland, 42nd), Margus Hunt (Estonia, Cincinnati, 53rd), Sio Moore (Liberia, Oakland, 66th), Edmund Kugbila (Ghana, Carolina, 108th), Trevardo Williams (Jamaica, Houston, 124th), Jesse Williams (Australia, Seattle, 137th) and Stansly Maponga (Zimbabwe, Atlanta, 153rd).

 

Adongo, 6-5, 257, recently played for the Southern Kings of Super 15 Rugby, the highest level of pro rugby in the world.  

 

Prior to that, Adongo was a 2012 Varsity Cup performer for the University of Pretoria Tuks.  In 2011, Adongo had a brief stay with the Vodacom Blue Bulls before joining the New Zealand ITM Cup team Counties Manukau.

 

Adongo graduated from Strathmore High School (Nairobi, Kenya) in 2006 and attended the University of South Africa the following year.  He also attended the Sharks Academy, a rugby academy accredited by South African Rugby, and made his senior debut in the 2010 Vodacom Cup.  In addition, Adongo played for the Kenya Harlequins junior team before going on to play for Kenya’s U-18 and U-19 national teams.

 

Paths to NFL training camps are diverse.  Adongo’s is one a bit more traveled in today’s NFL.

 

“It came as a shock.  I’m pretty much starting from scratch, but I’m a quick learner,” said Adongo.  “I really appreciate the chance that I’ve got.  I want to be the best I can be for the team.” 

 

Adongo says he has seen a few videos of Colts games and watched the NFL like others in South Africa, “the Super Bowl, the conference (championship) games.” 

 

Adongo says it will be important for those around him to be patient while he adapts from rugby to football.  That includes himself as he experiences the learning curve, though he does see parallels between the two sports.

 

“There’s a lot of things that are similar, similar positions,” said Adongo.  “Defensively, where I’m going to be playing as an outside linebacker a lot of things correlate – a lot of tackling, a lot of aggression, a lot of physicality.

 

“It’s something I want to do.  I want to do it pretty well.  Coming into this league as a pass-rusher, I think that’s my job.  My main focus is making sure I’m good at what I do and good at what I do in the system.  I have to make sure I’m up and ready to go when the time comes.”


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