Following his selection to the Baltimore Ravens during the NFL Draft, Odafe Oweh, who is generally known by Penn State fans as Jayson Oweh, made a surprising announcement during a virtual press conference that he would altogether ditch the name “Jayson” (middle name) and go by his legal first name “Odafe’ as he begins his career in the National Football League.
He was reported to have said during the press conference that, “People were having trouble pronouncing Odafe, so I went to Jayson my earlier years. But I don’t care anymore; you’re going to have to learn how to pronounce it.”
According to The Baltimore Sun, Oweh’s decision was not a rash one. A recently published feature story on Oweh probed into the roots of the edge rusher’s first name. The rookie is of Nigerian descent and now has increased appreciation for his heritage during his time at Penn State which ultimately led to the name change.
“As I got to college, I really found myself,” Oweh said, via The Sun. “I really understood that I’ve always loved to be Nigerian. I’ve always loved to be African … I started really embracing my African culture as I got older. I understood it was good to be different. It was good to have culture.”
Oweh’s first name has roots in the Urhobo tribe in Delta State which is primarily dominant in the Southwest region of Nigeria.
Oweh’s parents are natives of Nigeria who were later educated in London. They relocated to New Jersey in the 1990s, where their children were born. For Oweh, reclaiming his name at the NFL draft is also the fulfillment of a prophecy. Odafe means “a wealthy individual.”
Tania Oweh, Odafe’s mother, told The Baltimore Sun that, “Usually when Nigerians name kids, it’s either something that’s being projected on a kid or something that is indicative of the current situation. Obviously, this was more a projection, like, ‘You’re going to be a wealthy man.’ Wealth, not just monetarily but holistically. And that was the proclamation on him.”
Oweh’s selection to Baltimore Ravens came four selections after the Ravens added Rashod Bateman, another Big Ten product in Minnesota. Oweh ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and logged an 11-2 broad jump on Pro Day, which turned many heads for a 6-foot-5, 257-pounder.
A first-year Penn State starter in 2020, Oweh earned All-Big Ten designation as a redshirt sophomore despite missing the final two games because of injury.