Ten years ago, no one could have imagined that former Duke defensive end Victor Dimukeje would be preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. Back then, he just began playing football in eighth grade after moving to the U.S. from Nigeria when he was 8 years old.
Coming from Nigeria, soccer was Dimukeje’s sport of choice as a kid. However, after a coach persuaded him and his parents to try football, Dimukeje hasn’t looked back.
He started high school at New Town High School in Owings Mills, Md. with a strong freshman season. However, shortly after, he was recruited by Boys’ Latin.
“Boys’ Latin is a huge academic school and it’s mostly known for lacrosse,” Dimukeje said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 29. “They wanted me to play football for them and I took the opportunity and ran with it.”
Still new to football at Boys’ Latin, it took Dimukeje some time to learn the nuances of the game. With the help of his coaches, Dimukeje’s understanding of the game grew – and he was also helped by watching his hometown Baltimore Ravens as a kid.
When he was in middle school, the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, in Super Bowl XLVII. As a defensive lineman, he had plenty of talented Ravens to admire growing up, including Pro Bowlers Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.
“[The Ravens] had a lot of good pass rushers that played for Baltimore at the time,” he said. “So, I definitely watched a lot of them and took something from each of them.”
As Dimukeje’s understanding of the game evolved at Boys’ Latin, he developed into a three-star recruit coming out of high school, according to 247Sports. He had numerous offers coming out of high school, but he chose Duke because of the school’s academics and the culture of the football program.
“Boys’ Latin paved the way for me to end up at a school like Duke and it paid dividends for me,” he said.
Arriving at Duke in 2017 to play for widely respected head coach David Cutcliffe, Dimukeje started every game in his four years — a sign of his toughness and durability. Dimukeje showed his evolution as a player during his time as a Blue Devil as well.
Dimukeje combined for 5.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss from 2017-2018. However, Dimukeje combined for 16 sacks and 17.5 tackles for losses from 2019-2020 and was disruptive both against the run and pass.
“I’d say [during] my time at Duke I improved each and every year I was there,” Dimukeje said. “That’s one thing that I’m happy and satisfied about, now that I’m leaving.”
With the NFL Draft on April 29, the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Dimukeje is ranked as the No. 13 defensive end in the class by Walter Football. He’s projected to be a mid-round draft selection, with his name being called on Day Two or Three.
Now ready to embark on his next chapter toward the NFL, Dimukeje is well aware he represents two areas: Baltimore and his birth country of Nigeria. The connection between Nigeria and the NFL has become more pronounced in recent years with Nigerian-born players finding success in the league.
Dimukeje has one simple message for young kids that has helped guide his journey and brought him great success so far.
“Just going through this process, the biggest thing I want to leave people with is just to inspire the kids in Baltimore and Nigeria — really anywhere — that no matter where you come from you can end up wherever you put your mind to,” Dimukeje said.
For more from Dimukeje, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Duke Athletics