University of Virginia left tackle Oday Aboushi looks to be the highest-rated Muslim football player available in this Aprilâ€™s NFL Draft. Aboushi started every game for Virginia each of the last three seasons. A 6-6, 310-pound junior from Staten Island, N.Y., Aboushi is the son of Palestinian immigrants. The family still speaks some Arabic at home.
He spoke with VirginiaSports.com last August about the challenges of balancing his duties as a Muslim with the rigors of Division I college football. â€œI try to get all the prayers in,â€ he told VirginiaSports.com. â€œI do Friday prayers when I can, when weâ€™re not traveling.â€
Aboushi also has fasted during Ramadan, both in high school, and in college. â€œSome days are tougher than other ones,â€ Aboushi told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. â€œItâ€™s about knowing the feeling of hunger, and being grateful you know where your next meal is coming from.â€
In 2011, Aboushi received the honor of being invited to a State Department reception for Muslim athletes, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Among the other attendees was boxer Amir Khan, Denver Nuggets basketball player Kenneth Faried, and former offensive lineman Ephraim Salaam who observed Ramadan for all 13 seasons he played in the NFL. â€œThere are plenty of people whoâ€™ve done it before me,â€ he told VirginiaSports.com afterward. â€œIt was tough but doable.â€
NFLDraftScout.com ranks Oday as the 102nd best prospect overall in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft, and writes:
â€œNaturally large man with good overall weight distribution. Experienced at both left and right tackle. Shows at least adequate initial quickness off the snap. Gets a strong initial punch onto the defender and possesses the heavy hands to latch on and control his opponent. Extremely physical and aggressive player. Looks to dominate his target and will pancake or drive him deep downfield whenever he can. Rolls his hips into contact and keeps his legs churning to knock defenders off the ball. Good effort blocking at the second level. Solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Voted a team captain in 2012. Mentally tough individualâ€¦â€
The 2013 NFL Draft will take place April 25th through April 27th.