ASHBURN, VA (WTKR)- When one thinks of Old Dominion alums who suit up for the Washington Commanders, Taylor Heinicke is likely the first one who comes to mind. However, another former Monarch graces the 2022 roster, one who has a comeback story of his own.
The organization brought Bunmi Rotimi home. The Alexandria native had been out of the NFL for about three years when Washington added him to its active roster last November. Now he's hitting the field in training camp, building off of some meaningful game experience.
"It was a nerve-racking situation, being out of the NFL for so long," Rotimi recalled. "Everybody here, they were very very welcoming. No one made getting adjusted here difficult at all."
Rotimi was signed by the Bears in 2018 as an undrafted rookie free agent, but was cut that July before training camp began. He would bounce around some other leagues, suiting up for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football in 2019, then played for the New York Guardians of the XFL the following season. Both leagues would fold. Last year, Washington gave him another NFL opportunity, signing him to the practice squad after final roster cuts and eventually adding him to the 53-man roster.
"You can always count on him," said linebacker Cole Holcomb. "I always know Bunmi's going to be good. I don't have to worry about him, I don't have to worry about him. I know what's going to happen because I know how he's going to play it."
Holcomb calls Rotimi a "very disciplined football player."
"I definitely belong," the former Monarch said. "I definitely can play in the NFL. I think that was kind of a question mark around me last year. This year I've just got to build off that impression and just earn my way."
Earning his way is nothing new to Rotimi. He fought his way to stardom at Old Dominion, beginning as a walk-on and climbing to become an All-Conference player. Now he's fighting to show that he belongs in the burgundy and gold.
"It humbled me," the defensive end said. "Coming up through Old Dominion was a grind being a walk-on, having to earn my way the same way I'm trying to earn my way right now."
One could argue there's no better place for him to learn. His fellow defensive line-mates include Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat, a great group of players from which to learn. He's taking advantage of the chance to soak it all in.
"It's one of the best situations I could ask for," he smiled. "Literally every single person on this D-line, they're all so talented and so good and I just watching them. I learn each and every day from honestly each and every one of their reps."
2021 saw Rotimi tally ten tackles and a sack. Those are things he can build on and he sees himself contributing once again this season.
"I love being here, I love playing here and I love being able to be in my hometown, home area, so just winning and being able to help these guys do that," he said of his hopes for the upcoming campaign.
Rotimi played at Old Dominion from 2013-2017, redshirting his true freshman campaign.