On Sunday, the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers faced off in what ended up being a 16-16 tie. Although most of the game was sloppy and uninspiring, there were a few plays that gave the fans something to cheer for. One of Detroit’s best moments from the afternoon was a 42-yard touchdown run by former XFL safety Godwin Igwebuike.
Yes, you read that correctly. Until the beginning of this season, Igwebuike only took snaps on the defensive side of the ball. The last time he played on offense was at Pickerington North High School in Ohio, all the way back in 2013. Igwebuike became a safety at Northwestern University, where over four years (2014-2017), he recorded 324 total tackles, 31 pass deflections, 7 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries.
Igwebuike was not selected in the 2018 NFL draft, but signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent. He ended up on their practice squad, and was only elevated to the active roster once before being waived. He spent the rest of 2018 with the San Francisco 49ers, and split his time in 2019 between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.
Late in 2019, Igwebuike was selected in the XFL’s supplemental draft. He went on to play for the Seattle Dragons during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Through 5 games, he recorded 21 tackles, 2 pass deflections, and an interception.
Godwin was out of football for the rest of 2020, and signed a reserve/futures deal with the Lions at the beginning of 2021. Once training camp started a few months later, head coach Dan Campbell moved Igwebuike over to running back. Even though that move didn’t increase his chances of making the final roster, he performed well enough to defy the odds. Igwebuike has been low on the depth chart all season, sitting behind players such as D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. However, with Williams out due to an injury, someone needed to step up.
Before Sunday’s game, Igwebuike only had 3 carries for 18 yards on the ground, all of which came against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 8. His 42-yard touchdown run was the longest by a Lions player since 2011, and longest on the road since Barry Sanders had a 51-yard score in 1997.
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