"All roads lead to Rome."
Not all roads lead to the NFL, however. There are many paths to professional football and Raiders FB Jamize Olawale certainly found one, albeit a roundabout route.
Olawale grew up in San Francisco and tried to make a name for himself as a high school football player at Long Beach Poly High School. The school has produced numerous pro athletes in various sports and entertainers and has been used in several TV and film productions.
"I've played football since I was eight," Olawale said. "I went to Long Beach Poly which has the most players in the NFL out of any other high school. You learn from a young age the tradition. I had to go to a junior college out of high school because I didn't play my senior year. From there, North Texas came and got me and played there. God led me to the NFL."
The Dallas Cowboys signed Olawale as an undrafted free agent May 14, 2012, and added him to their practice squad a day after cutting him at the end of training camp.
The 6'-1", 240-pounder got a taste of the Silver and Black last year, joining the team December 4, 2012, as the Raiders plucked him from Dallas' practice squad. He is finishing up his first training camp with the Raiders.
Listed as a fullback/running back, Olawale is a consummate team player willing to play any position in the best interests of his squad.
"Whatever they need me to play. When I played Pop Warner, I played running back," Olawale said. "I first played fullback in high school, but it wasn't my main position until college."
Olawale is part of a unique position group which includes a high draft choice feature back and a converted wide receiver. "It's very laid back, the vets, [Darren] McFadden and Marcel [Reece] take control and teach the younger guys what to do and give advice and tips," Olawale said. "Coach [Kelly] Skip [Skipper] makes everything easier. He tells you what you have to do and it's up to you to go out and execute."
The 24-year-old doesn't speak of competition for roster spots during the grind of training camp. His view of things is a bit more long-range and focused on team goals.
"It's like all the other 31 teams, the best will rise to the top. We have to keep fighting, keep making plays and getting better as a team," Olawale said. "I feel it's more of a team progression rather than the individual position groups. It's the same across the league; there's competition every day."
Olawale played in three games for the Raiders last season and has been involved in quite a bit of action during the first two preseason games this year. He hasn't been concerned about his specific role, but rather his contributions.
"I haven't sat down and thought about it. I'm going to give it my all every play, trying to have a role on this team and help this team become great," Olawale said. "I just need to make plays just like any other position." All roads may not lead to the NFL, but Olawale found one that did. Now he is hoping to earn his place and contribute to the Raiders success.