Samson Ebukam is going to get the opportunity of a lifetime too. And with the same team.
The former Eastern Washington University All-America defensive end joined wide receiver Cooper Kupp as the highest-drafted duo in school history when the Los Angeles Rams picked him in the fourth round with the 125th pick overall in the National Football League Draft on Saturday (April 29) in Philadelphia, Pa. One day earlier, Kupp was drafted 69th overall when the Rams picked him in the third round.
Kupp is the second-highest draft choice in school history, and Ebukam equals running back Taiwan Jones for third. Jones was picked by Oakland in the 2011 NFL Draft and has been with the Raiders ever since.
Ebukam was part of a multi-team trade that enable the Rams to gain the 125th pick and select Ebukam, a 2013 graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Ore.
"When (Cooper) got picked by them I was like, 'Yeah, that's the perfect team,'" said Ebukam, who was drafted as an outside linebacker. "Then I thought to myself, what are the chances I get picked by the same team? And it just happened and I was like, 'Woah, Eagles really do stick together.' That's awesome."
"(Los Angeles) was my first visit too," he added of the hectic last month when he impressed scouts with his Pro Day workout at EWU on March 28. "I was just ecstatic. I had a gut feeling that it would be them to take me and I'm just blessed right now. I just can't wait to get to work."
The only other duo in school history to both be drafted came in 1987 when offensive tackle Ed Simmons was picked in the sixth round by Washington and Craig Richardson was chosen in the 11th round by Kansas City. Simmons went on to play 11 years as a "Hog" for the Redskins, helping them win the 1992 Super Bowl.
However, since 1994 when the draft was reduced to seven rounds, EWU has not had multiple choices. It's happened seven times by Big Sky Conference schools in 23 previous seasons since 1994, including a pair of Southern Utah Thunderbirds in 2016.
Kupp became the 17th player in school history to be drafted and Ebukam was the 18th, dating back to Dick Nearants in the 18th round in 1959 by Green Bay. Besides Roos and Kupp, EWU's next-highest choices were fourth-round choices Taiwan Jones as a running back by Oakland in 2011 (125th overall) and safety Matt Johnson by Dallas in 2012 (135th overall). Eastern's last draftee was offensive tackle Jake Rodgers in the seventh round by Atlanta in 2015.
"(Cooper) just grinds basically kind of like I did," said Ebukam. "We worked out sometimes and sometimes I'm just like 'Damn, this is the only person that I know on the team that can work as hard as me and not complain.' So yeah, he just doesn't complain."
An All-American in 2016, a Freshman All-American in 2013 and a three-time All-Big Sky selection, Ebukam had 24 sacks in his career to rank sixth in school history. He finished with 188 total tackles in 53 games (38 as a starter).
Congrats to my African brotha Samson on being drafted to the Rams 🙏🏾💯🙌🏾 #GoEags— Nzuzi Webster (@KillaZeus) April 29, 2017
That's 2 down!! congrats to a savage name samson!— Shaq Hill (@half_amazinggg) April 29, 2017
One of six Eagle co-captains for the 2016 season, he received second-team All-Big Sky honors in both 2014 and 2015, and first team accolades in 2016. In addition, four times he earned Big Sky All-Academic honors. He played in eight career playoff games and had 23 tackles with 4 1/2 sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. In his four seasons playing for Eastern, the Eagles won 41 games overall and were 28-4 in the Big Sky Conference.
Ebukam earned four All-America honors as a senior in 2016, including prestigious first team accolades from the American Football Coaches Association. He also earned third team accolades from Associated Press, STATS and Hero Sports.
He started all 14 games at "buck" defensive end, finishing with a team-high 9 1/2 sacks. He had totals of 71 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, eight quarterback hurries, two passes broken up and an interception.
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is also expected to be drafted or sign a free agent contract with an NFL team.
Kupp was a four-time All-American and two-time FCS Player of the Year for the Eagles. He was joined by Bourne at the NFL Combine in February, and they reunited in Cheney on March 28 with Ebukam at EWU's Pro Day testing. A third All-America wide receiver, Shaq Hill, also participated in Pro Day testing, as well as linebacker Miquiyah Zamora and quarterback Jordan West.
Kupp ran a 4.56 time in the 40-yard dash to improve his time of 4.62 at the Combine. He also improved his 3-cone drill to 6.53, which would have been the top time at the Combine. He had the ninth-fastest at the Combine at 6.75 seconds, while his 20-yard shuttle time of 4.08 was the fifth-best.
Bourne also improved his 40 time from 4.68 at the Combine to 4.53 at Pro Day, and his vertical jump by two inches to 36. He even hit double-figures in the bench press, lifting 225 pounds 10 times.
At just shy of 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 240 pounds, Ebukam had impressive Pro Day numbers to go along with his imposing size. His vertical jump of 39 inches, broad jump of 10'10" and 40 time of 4.45 were eye-opening. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times.
"It just shows the work that we put in, honestly," added Ebukam. "It's unfortunate that we didn't get to go to any championships, but all the work that we put in in the offseason is really paying off right now."
Following the end of his Eastern career, Ebukam and teammate Kendrick Bourne were selected to play in the NFL Players Association Bowl on Jan. 21, 2017, in Carson, Calif. Kupp played in the Senior Bowl.