Athletic University of Miami tight end David Njoku's lack of experience doesn't scare him away from the reality that he will soon be playing against elite defensive talent.
If NFL teams are looking for a rare talent with an incredible combination of athleticism and strength, they should look no further than University of Miami tight end David Njoku.
While his college stats won't jump off the charts, primarily due to him only having nine career starts as a Hurricane, his athleticism sure will. It was on display at the 2017 NFL Combine as he was one of the top performers at his position: 11-foot-1 broad jump, 37.5-inch vertical and posted 21 reps on the bench press.
At only 20 years old, he is just three years removed from winning the New Balance Nationals Outdoor high jump national championship as a high school senior.
Initially recruited by Miami as a receiver, coaches quickly saw his potential as a pass-catching tight end and Njoku transitioned as a redshirt freshman.
"I was never scared," Njoku said. "It was different, for sure, because that was the only offensive position besides O-line that I didn't play in high school. Tight end, I felt was like a bigger receiver. Sometimes I've gotta get in the mud with the blocking, but I don't mind that. I'm looking forward to it."
In his first year ever playing the position, he totaled 21 receptions for 362 yards and a touchdown. Njoku would follow it with a 43 receptions for 698 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016.
Even after a monster year, the explosive athlete knows he is still new to the position and has a lot of learning to do if he wants to be successful in the NFL.
"Like I said, first off, I didn't perfect anything," Njoku said. "I'm trying to better myself in every aspect with blocking and even speed, strength, route running or my hands. I don't think I did anything to perfect anything, so I'm still working. If I continue to work, that'll take me a long way."
Njoku added: "Being a receiving tight end – and blocking as an overall tight end – you've gotta learn to perfect every route to your best ability. That's what I'm trying to do with my sticks and my cuts and everything, just trying to better myself overall."
With his lack of experience, many didn't understand why he made the leap and decided to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft that features one of the best tight end classes in recent memory.
But the confident Njoku didn't let the stacked tight end class sway his decision as he thinks he is the best of the bunch.
"That's also what made me declare: people telling me to stay because of the big tight end class," Njoku said. "I love competition. I was the national high jump champion in high school at like 220 pounds. The next jumper was 30 pounds lighter. I love competing, so once people told me to stay, that made me want to declare even more because I want to go against the greats."