NFL: Mexican athlete was selected for the 2023 International Player Pathway Program


Héctor Zepeda participated in the NFL International Combine that was held in England last October and in which he competed with 37 other players from 13 countries.

Athletes who competed in the International Combine held in England.
© NFL MexicoAthletes who competed in the International Combine held in England.

The National Football League (NFL) announced that the Mexican Hector Zepeda He was one of the athletes selected to integrate the International Player Pathway (IPP) program by 2023.

Hector Zepeda He was selected after the International Combine held in England last October. He competed alongside 37 other players from 13 countries in the test event held at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in London.

Established in 2017, the IPP program aims to provide elite international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately work toward earning a spot on the NFL roster. Since its inception, 26 international players have been assigned to NFL rosters. Currently there
16 IPP athletes on NFL rosters, with three of them on their team’s active roster: Jordan Mailata (Australia – Philadelphia Eagles), Efe Obada (UK – Washington Commanders) and Jakob Johnson (Germany – Las Vegas Raiders) .

The players will begin training in the United States in January, for 10 weeks, and will have the opportunity to showcase their skills to NFL club scouts throughout March. The goal is for athletes to be selected for assignment to an NFL practice squad or sign as free agents for the upcoming season through the IPP program after the 2023 NFL Draft.

Picked at random, at least international players selected for the 2023 program will be hosted by one of the eight NFL divisions if they have not signed free agent contracts. Upon completion of training camp, each player will be eligible for a practice squad waiver as an international player with their assigned team. This grants the assigned team an additional member of the practice squad. Under certain parameters, players may also be added to the active player roster during the regular season.

“The The International Player Pathway program is an important part of our continued focus on growing the game globally and creating a path for international athletes to play in the NFL,” said Arturo Olivé, General Director of NFL Mexico. “We are delighted to see Héctor Zepeda represent Mexico in the International Player Pathway for 2023 and we look forward to seeing him compete for a future NFL roster spot.”

Who is Hector Zepeda?

Hector Zepeda was born and raised in Tijuana, Baja California, and is currently studying for his master’s degree in Monterrey. He has played football since he was 14 years old. He also played basketball and soccer, swam, and was an all-state shooting selection. During his senior year of high school he earned a scholarship to play in Sheep Tec Monterrey (one of the main universities in Mexico and current national champions). He was part of the IPP 2022.

Hector, 25 years old, is an offensive lineman; he has positional versatility across the Offensive Line having played tackle, guard and center positions.

Notable participants of the International Player Pathway program

Jakob Johnson (Germany, Las Vegas Raiders fullback). He signed with the Patriots’ active roster on September 21, 2019. Johnson appeared in four regular season games in 2019 with three starts and made his first rushing reception for five yards in Week 5. He remained with the Patriots for the season. 2020 and played all 16 games with 11 starts at fullback and scored his first touchdown in Week 2. The touchdown sack was the first regular season touchdown scored by an IPP program participant. Johnson re-signed with the Patriots for the 2021 season and played in all 17 games with six starts. He signed with the Las Vegas Raiders ahead of the 2022 season and has been a key contributor to his career game during his first season with the team.
Jordan Mailata (Australia, Philadelphia Eagles tackle). The Samoan-born Australian former professional rugby player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs was selected in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, becoming the youngest player on the Eagles roster. After spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons on injury reserve and the practice squad, Mailata had a breakout 2020 season with starts at both left and right tackle. Following the 2020 season, Mailata was named the starting left tackle and signed a four-year contract extension to remain with the Eagles. In 2021, Mailata started all 14 games he played in.
Efe Obada (United Kingdom, Washington Commanders Defensive End). In 2018, he became the first player in the NFL International Player Pathway program to make a 53-player roster and appear in his first regular-season game, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his one-off performance. sack and an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals. Obada joined the Bills as a free agent for the 2021 season. In 2021, Obada played in 10 games with one start, recording 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and one defensive pass. Obada signed with the Washington Commanders prior to the 2022 season and has recorded three sacks on the season to date.

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NFL: Mexican athlete was selected for the 2023 International Player Pathway Program