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Volume 26 No. 181
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NFL's U.K. Academy Begins Recruiting First Class Of Prospects

NFL officials in the U.K. are in the midst of "recruiting what will wind up being an 80-player crop of 16-18 year olds," who will make up the first class of players at the league's academy launching in the U.K. later this year, according to Albert Breer of THE MMQB. The league received "over a thousand applicants" in the 48 hours after announcing the academy. NFL U.K. Managing Dir Allistair Kirkwood said, "We believe there's unbelievable athletic talent here. Most of these people aren't playing the sport at all because there wasn't a pathway." The NFL is "centering the program" in Tottenham, and sees it as a way of "giving back to the area" as a 10-year relationship with EPL club Tottenham Hotspur begins. The league "made an eight-figure investment" in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is "fully equipped" for football. The NFL has "bolstered" the academy with "player ambassadors in three categories." One is "made up of stars with viral appeal," such as Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr., while another is "comprised of guys with U.K. ties" such as Panthers DE Efe Obada. The third category will be "alumni capable of going overseas during the football season," such as Jerry Rice. The plan for the academy itself is to "start this year with some intrasquad scrimmages, and next year play against club teams across Europe, with a goal to eventually play games" against U.S. high schools (SI.com, 5/13).