Tuesday, July 23, 2024

John Daka sings for Ravens, becomes first Zambian to play in the NFL


Lusaka born John Daka has made history by becoming the first Zambian to play in the National Football League in the USA when he signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

Daka finished fourth all-time at James Maddison University in sacks with 27.5, and also finished with 47.5 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles.

The Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native earned STATS FCS First Team All-American and AP Second Team All-American.

Writing on Twitter, Daka said, “Zambian people are a big family , it’s an honor to represent such great people.”

He also confirmed that he was born in Lusaka before migrating to the USA.

“Yes i was born in Lusaka for everyone asking,” he tweeted.

Daka put together an outstanding season as a senior in 2019.

He racked up 28 tackles for loss and led the FCS with 16.5 sacks.

Daka says he had an idea he would be joining the Ravens before the draft was even over.

“I knew they were very high on me so after like the 6th or 7th round, I had indication that I would rather just go to the Ravens…than go to a team that I am not really a fit for,” said Daka, who’s a native of Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

“So I just feel like I’m a perfect fit for the Ravens. I did have a good amount of calls during and after the draft but I knew I was going to the Ravens probably once round seven started.”

Just two years ago, Daka departed Bridgeforth Stadium uncertain whether he would play there again following the final home game of his sophomore season in 2017.

Off-the-field circumstances, the specifics of which Daka declined to disclose other than to say they involved “just stuff I couldn’t really control,” had left him so disillusioned he considered giving up the sport.

“There were times when I didn’t even want to play college football anymore,” the record-setting defensive end said Tuesday in a telephone interview with the Washington Post revealing that he also thought strongly about transferring.

“I lost confidence in myself. I didn’t think I was good enough, so I think that’s the biggest barrier I’ve been through in my life personally. Even my family didn’t really know too much about what was going on because I didn’t want them to have that burden. The only people who on the daily knew what was going on were my teammates. They’re the reason why I’m here right now.”

Thanks in large part to their encouragement, Daka decided to remain with the Dukes.
Two years later, on a team that is two wins from the national championship, the senior defensive end holds JMU’s season record for sacks.

For Daka, that routine began in high school at Wise in Upper Marlboro, Md., where he was a first-team All-Met selection in 2015 after helping the undefeated Pumas win the 4A state championship. He also set the single-season record for sacks at Wise as a senior despite skipping football as a freshman to focus on basketball.

Daka, who is 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, said he decided to concentrate on football because of his height disadvantage in basketball.

His relatively diminutive stature in part limited the football scholarship offers he received — until, that is, he began accumulating highlight-reel sacks, catching the attention of schools that initially had shown only passing interest.

By then, Daka had committed to James Madison and wasn’t about to spurn the program that had made his recruitment a priority rather than an afterthought.


  1. Yaaba! It took me time to understand the correlation between sings (as in singing) and the NFL!? Thought the guy is singing before games actually start!? LT, you are the best LOL

  2. These are the diasporans I like. Unlike those whose only achievement is to criticize their own country here day in and out. I am talking the likes of spaka, tarinyo, spiderly and a few other cockroaches. They sit all day on their huge backsides being supported by foreign governments instead of working hard like this young man. Look how proud he is to br from the great city of lusaka . I am told by my Team that in fact we met him as a kid when we visited Zambia community in Maryland with late MC Sata. I can’t remember as this was ages ago. Congrats young man and please maintain good values. I follow the NFL and there seems to be a lot of misbehaviour by players. Stay focussed because the ladies especially the whlte ones will now be after you. I know this because with success I have…

  3. CONTINUED :experienced it too when I travel abroad. Especially Russian women who are always after me. Even when they see my wedding ring they persist. Chalo ichi kaya. Kz

  4. Well done John Daka! It is indeed good to see progressive youths like this representing Zambia in a country full of bad influence for youngsters his age. Too many just like to party hard when they should be working hard. Wishing you all the best mufana wanga. Hope you stay fit, be smart and save that money – you’ll need it in future because NFL will definately chew on you and spit you out like a bubble gum when you’re unable to deliver.

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