ANDERSON, IND. — Daniel Adongo listened to his gut. That resulted in a transoceanic flight, his first visit to the United States and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
At the beginning of the week, Adongo, a world-class rugby player, was in Johannesburg, South Africa. Saturday morning, he was reporting to Anderson University as a 6-5, 257-pound outside linebacker with the Colts.
Adongo admitted his exposure to the NFL is limited to occasionally watching the Super Bowl or a conference championship game.
“I’m pretty much starting from scratch,” he said. “But I’m a quick learner.”
Linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald described Adongo as a “clean canvas.”
Adongo said the Colts first expressed an interest three or four weeks ago via email.
“To get an email from a National Football League team, you definitely know they’re not kidding,” he said.
Agreeing to his rookie contract was just the first step for Adongo. Next came getting from Johannesburg to Indianapolis. That meant a 16-hour flight from South Africa to Atlanta, followed by a short connection to Indianapolis Tuesday.
Then came introductions to team personnel and a crash course on the rules and intricacies of the NFL, including how to put on a uniform.
“He tried to put on his helmet and he was struggling with it,” said linebacker Bjoern Werner, the team’s first-round draft pick. “It’s like, wow, you got the chance to come to an NFL camp and (you’ve) never played football.
“That’s something special.”
Adongo’s raw talent caught the personnel staff’s eye. Once he’s able to acclimate himself to his new surroundings — and new sport — he expects his rugby traits to be an asset. Initially, he’ll be used as a pass rusher.
“A lot of stuff I was doing in rugby correlates,” he said. “A lot of tackling. A lot of aggression. A lot of physicality.”
What does he bring to the Colts?
“Servitude, loyalty, aggression, physicality and being a team man,” he said. “Being the person I am, I went with my gut feeling. If something feels right, I’m not going to dodge (it) or second-guess myself.
“Rugby is always going to be there. To have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity felt right to me.”