By: Jovillene Datu
25 year old athlete, Yoshito Omi, has aspirations to be the first ever Japanese football player to make it to the NFL. Earlier in October, Omi was invited to the NFL International Combine in London where players are handpicked to join the NFL International Player Pathway program. From there, players get a chance to show off their skills to NFL teams, with a chance to earn a spot in an NFL organization. Over the past few years, this program has gained traction and has produced multiple strong players such as Jordan Mailata (offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles), Isaac Alcaron (offensive guard for the Dallas Cowboys), Jakob Johnson (fullback for the New England Patriots), and others.
Yoshito Omi started catching the eye of fans and scouts in 2019 as a member of the IBM Big Blue, a team in the Japanese X League. In his 2019 campaign, Omi hauled in 33 catches for 544 yards and seven touchdowns in only seven games.
In 2020, Omi was also the captain of the Japanese national football team in a game against The Spring League All Star team in Dallas, Texas. In the end, Japan ended up losing 36-16, but it was a great experience for Yoshito to play against former NFL players with multiple NFL scouts watching.
Currently, there have been no football players from Japan that have made the NFL, however, running back Taku Lee was invited to the International Combine last year and was able to earn a spot on the Montreal Alouettes roster in the CFL.
The 6’0, 190-pound receiver is known for his quick bursts and ability to get open as one of his former coaches, Fred Armstrong was quoted, saying, “He runs great passing routes and is especially dangerous after the catch.”
There has yet to be an update on how well Yoshito Omi is performing in his current situation, but if he is able to find success, he will not only set forward a great path for him and other Japanese athletes, but also for many international football players that aspire to reach the NFL. Following the combine, Omi said, “I’m so proud of representing Japan. I could show Japanese kids that this is the way to the NFL and this is the dream way you should aim for.”