Cowboys rookie UDFA edge player Azur Kamara’s path to the NFL has been a unique one, to say the least.
As the journey for most NFL prospects began with Pop Warner and watching the NFL on television, Azur Kamara’s journey began on the Ivory Coast amidst a civil war.
While most American boys grew up grumbling about running the trash to the curb, it was not uncommon for Kamara to be counted upon (along with his young siblings and cousins) to venture miles to collect water to bring back to the home; the backdrop was violence.
Food, water, and shelter were provided but never guaranteed.
Kamara’s mother always maintained multiple jobs, and did whatever was necessary to make ends meet, all the way down to sending Azur off to peddle her homemade baked goods.
When Azur was still grade school aged, he and his mother embarked on what he thought was trip to visit an Uncle in Guinea. Azur and his mother did visit family in Guinea, but Azur and his siblings were unexpectedly left behind with his uncle and cousins as his mother went alone to seek asylum in the United States.
Five long years passed with Azur and his siblings some 7,000 miles away from their mother. At long last, Azur and his siblings were permitted to join their mother in the US, and began their new life in Arizona. Azur arrived in the states unable to speak or comprehend any English at all. His integration into American schools was was rough, and he very understandably struggled initially.
Things eventually smoothed out in the classroom. As an incoming high school freshman, Kamara was obviously not yet fully grown at 6’0″/160, but still sported some of that incredible length that makes him such an intriguing prospect today. High school coaches noticed, and came calling. The staff at Phoenix Central coerced Kamara into giving football a shot, and he faced yet another totally new beginning. At the time Kamara had not really even seen much football played, let alone played any himself. He was a bare bones project, who needed to be taught from the absolute ground floor up. His size, and athleticism were undeniable. Kamara grew into his body and played EDGE and offensive tackle. He returned kicks and even placekicked. By the time 4 years had elapsed, Kamara had gone from a neophyte who needed to be shown how to get into a stance, to a 25.5 sack senior season. A three-star prospect, Kamara headed for Arizona Western College.
In two seasons as an edge at the JUCO level, Kamara racked up 29 TFL and 20.5 sacks and was recruited to finish out his college career at the University of Kansas.
Kamara did not light the world on fire in his time at Kansas (42 tackles, 5 sacks, 10.5 TFL in 19 games), but was still an All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2019. Not to be glossed over, he was also a Big-12 Academic Honor Roll student, which is incredible considering the way his time in the American school system began.
Though the production was lacked at Kansas, Kamara’s appeal has always been more about his tantalizing athletic toolbox. 6’3″/245 lbs, 35 inch arms and 10″ inch hands. That ridiculous length, coupled with his 4.59 speed give Kamara the tackling radius of a throw net, and that is one of the strongest attributes that stands out on tape. The guy can really go sideline to sideline and prevent guys from turning corners.
He played mostly as a Jack LB for Kansas, but when asked to rush you can see something there. He’s got some juice and initial get off which is encouraging, but he doesn’t seem to know how to use that incredible length, which is where you just have to hope a coach like Jim Tomsula and can apply the special herbs and spices here.
I don’t think Kamara can make the 53 in 2020, but he is a guy I’d be biting my nails over hoping he goes unclaimed and can be stashed on a practice squad. With a little added strength, and a few more techniques in the trick bag, Kamara could be a late bloomer who really becomes a useful player.
I was a big fan of Kamara just based on test numbers and tape.
After hearing his unique story, it’s impossible not to root for him a la Efe Obada.
Featured Image: Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Sports