USA: Maponga eyes NFL return with Pittsburgh Steelers

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By Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWE-BORN American football star Stansly Maponga could be set for a return to the National Football League (NFL) after being reportedly invited for a try-out by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Maponga made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean to feature in the NFL after being  drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

The 32 year-old defensive lineman is currently on the books of the Orlando Guardians in the XFL, a professional American football minor league consisting of eight teams located across the United States in mid-sized to major markets.

Maponga played in 10 games for the Orlando Guardians during the 2023 season, where he racked up 2.5 sacks on 22 tackles.

In addition, he posted 19 pressures over those games.

After his impressive performances in the XFL Maponga, could be set for a return to the more lucrative NFL following the invitation for a trial stint by the Steelers, according to a report by XFL Analyst.

According to the report, multiple teams are interested in Maponga with the Steelers being the team that will host him for a try-out first.

The Harare-born star is scheduled to have another workout with the Detroit Lions in the hope of being offered a contract.

Maponga  is not new to NFL teams after his breakthrough in 2013 with the Falcons when he was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Zimbabwe-born star is a product of Texas Christian University (TCU), where he played for the Horned Frogs for four seasons from 2009 to 2013.

After leaving the Falcons in 2015, he joined the New York Giants, where he would remain with the team through the 2017 season.

In 2018, he would bounce from there to the Denver Broncos but never ended up playing a game for the Broncos.

After that, he would head to the XFL in 2020 to join the Seattle Dragons. In 2021, he joined the CFL and the Ottawa Redblacks. Maponga took the 2022 season off before joining the XFL and the Guardians.

As it stands in his NFL career, he has plenty of experience, but only one sack in 2014 with the Falcons. He has played in 26 NFL games overall and at 32 is now trying to get back into the NFL.

Maponga grew up in Zimbabwe playing rugby before relocating to the United States at age nine, where he was a standout in high school and college.

He had a strong collegiate career, starting 34 of 36 games at Texas Christian University where he had 15,5 sacks in his career, helping them win the Rose Bowl in 2011 and being named First Team All-Big 12 in 2012.

Maponga’s NFL breakthrough however came when he was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.