The National Football League (NFL) has recently announced the participants of its International Player Pathway (IPP) program Class of 2024. This year’s class features 11 athletes from around the world, including five specialists from England and Ireland, making it the first-ever group of specialists to be included in the program.
The IPP program was established in 2017 with the goal of providing elite international athletes with the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, enhance their skills, and work towards securing a spot on an NFL roster.
The 16 players in the IPP Class of 2024 hail from eight different countries, and the program represents a total of 16 players transitioning to the sport of American football. Of note are two Australian players, Patrick Murtagh and Jotham Russell. Murtagh, a returning player from the 2023 program, sustained a knee injury while with the Detroit Lions. Meanwhile, Russell, a rugby league player from Canberra via the Brisbane Broncos, is the latest Australian to be given a direct path towards their NFL dream.
The players will commence training in the United States at the IMG Academy in January. In March, they will have the opportunity to showcase their skills to NFL club scouts.
At the conclusion of training camp, the 16 IPP athletes will be eligible to occupy a 17th practice squad roster spot across any of the 32 teams. This new spot is an additional opportunity reserved for international players, thanks to a rule change that begins with the 2024 season and is applicable to athletes outside of the United States and Canada.
The NFL’s International Player Pathway program is part of a broader long-term commitment to accelerate global football development efforts and enable athletes of all ages to find, play and thrive in the sport.