Written by Eric Jackson
Growing up in the tropical climate of Ghana in West Africa, he always was fond of soccer; his eventual love for football seemed unfathomable at the time.
This adoration for the game now is only obvious as his lifelong dream is finally becoming a reality.
Edmund Kugbila everyday receives praise from his supporters all over including family members overseas to hometown fans in Valdosta as he gears up for a very substantial business-trip.
Still high from a national championship victory, he makes no bones that he must dwindle these emotions to be ready not only physically but emotionally to be compeletely prepared for his upcoming job interview.
This interview is the NFL scouting combine held at Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, Ind.
“I really didn’t think things would pan out like this but at the same time I’ve wanted to go to the NFL since I was fifth grade. I’ve said I wanted to be a pro football player since I was a little kid. It’s a dream coming true right now. I got one shot and I got to take full advantage of it,” he said.
The annual event gives standout college football players the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of coaches, general managers, personnel directors and scouts.
Though the official combine invite list came out last week, Kugbila was expected to be on it after he pulled in the first invitation on Nov. 28.
He told the exciting news to his agent prior to informing his mother and the rest of the family face-to-face. He admits the blissful feelings that day were similar to winning the national championship in the remark that he “couldn’t believe it’s true.”
“It was emotional, so surreal. It was a great feeling, a lot of excitement. My mom knows how much I want to do this so she was very happy for me. Dream come true, God just answering my prayers.”
Kugbila hopes to be the next Blazer in the NFL since undrafted Minnesota Viking linebacker Larry Dean in 2011.
“Larry Dean is like my big brother,” he said. “If I need any questions answers, I can call him. I look up to Larry a lot; his mentality and how he works it’s crazy. Larry is Larry. He’s a great guy to look up to. I want to be able to represent Valdosta in the NFL one day.”
The right guard’s football dreams didn’t begin developing till Edmund and his family moved from The Motherland to the metro-Atlanta city, Lawrenceville when he was 10 years old.
The prospect admits he had a few discouraging moments on the gridiron when he started playing organized football in middle school, nevertheless support from close ones helped him refrain from quitting.
Soon he enrolled into nearby Central Gwinnett High to begin his trek to the NFL.
Largely due to his bulldogged work ethic, Kugbila was a model player during his four years as a Black Knight.
Former Central Gwinnett Head Coach and current Athletic Director & Head Football Coach at Dade County Bradley Warren is less than surprised that Edmund is in contention to play at the next level.
“I always enjoyed coaching him and he was pleasant to coach,” Warren said. “He was huge and had good size. He was real young and worked hard, just a great offensive lineman. He seemed to enjoy his work too. I’m excited for him, proud of him.”
The storied tradition that VSU garners grabbed Kugbila’s attention coming out of high school, then following an official visit to the Azalea city, it was a done deal from there. He was going to be Blazer.
He credits magnetic connections with then current Blazers and comforting vibes is a main component to his final decision.
His commitment would soon help reel in fellow Central Gwinnett grads defensive end Trokon Gaye and safety Lance Holder to join the “Black Swarm”.
Kugbila, a three-year starter, was able to make an impact as early as his freshman season as a reserve until his final game that ended in triumph and coined him a champion.
This past season, Kugbila was one of the five starting seniors on the offensive line who have moved on.
One of those five were NFL prospect Ryan Schraeder who failed to get inked on the official combine list but good friend Edmund believes that it won’t hinder him on his same pursuit to pros.
“I think he should have been on the list,” Kugbila said. “I don’t know what happen[ed] with the invite process in all that but Ryan is up here working. We’re both getting after it, trying to put VSU on the map. Ryan is a great athlete. He is probably one of the top in college football. I know Ryan is going to get a fair shot.”
Greg Reid, along with Schraeder and Kugbila, are forgoing this spring semester to solely focus their attention to their craft.
Reid still recovering from a torn ACL that happened during the final preseason scrimmage, will link up with his former teammate during combine weekend on Feb. 20-23.
“It’s great just to see him overcome from his injury he had. When Greg came we just took him into our family so I’m happy to see what he’s doing. I can’t wait to see him at the combine so I can’t talk to him again,” Kugbila said. “I know he’s going to do great, it’s Greg Reid.”
Reid is listed under Florida State on the invite list; The 2010 Chick-Fil-A defensive MVP has been stationed in North Miami getting ready for the combine with his management group, Worldwide Career Management.
Kugbila is currently in Atlanta honing his skills six days-a-week with his management group, Goldin Athletics Training Association.
He also has been training with other offensive linemen prospect University of Alabama’s D.J. Fluker.
“I was nervous at first,” he said. “I’m not really nervous, just anxious to get over there to show these guys what I can do.”
Kugbila will make his way back to Titletown for VSU’s Pro Day on March 18.