UDFA Mulumba Remains Hungry

Andy Mulumba spent Cutdown Saturday at a barbecue hosted by the family of the boy whose bike he rode to and from training camp. It's just the latest step on the journey of Mulumba, who grew in Congo and was the second pick of the CFL Draft.

Andy Mulumba came a long way for a family barbecue.

Mulumba was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and spent his first 12 years there. Poverty, not all-you-can-eat spreads in the dining hall, was a way of life. So was war. Real war, not the "trench warfare" that occurs when a 260-pound rookie like Mulumba tries to fight his way through 600 pounds of double-team blocks.

His family fled the war-torn nation and settled in Quebec. He eschewed the national pastime of hockey in favor of soccer. Finally, when he was 17, he gave football a try.

It was an instant fit.

Thus, even after what statistically was a ho-hum career at Eastern Michigan – he had one sack and seven tackles for losses as a senior – he was the second pick of the Canadian Football League Draft.

He turned down the sure thing for a shot at the big time. He had a predraft visit with the Green Bay Packers and chose the Packers after going undrafted, based in part on the team's history with undrafted rookie linebackers such as Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto and Dezman Moses.

On Saturday, rather than spending hour upon hour hoping his phone wouldn't ring with a "920" area code and "569" prefix, Mulumba spent the day with his good friend, Ben. Throughout training camp, Mulumba rode Ben's bike to and from practice. They became such good friends that Ben invited Mulumba to his house for a Saturday barbecue in honor of his 13th birthday.

When 5 p.m. came and went, it was no news is good news.

Let the party begin.

"Excited. There was a lot of joy from both of us," Mulumba said. "We were really happy. His family was happy for me."

"I was nervous all day," he added. "I didn't know what was going on, I didn't know the scenarios, what they were thinking upstairs. Good things happened and I'm glad I made the team."

While Mulumba kept focused on the next snap, the next meeting, the next practice throughout training camp, it became relatively clear early in camp that he would be the latest undrafted outside linebacker find. He spent much of the summer running with the second-unit defense ahead of Moses and sixth-round rookie Nate Palmer. He was a rock against the run and showed up as a pass rusher.

"I never really thought about it," Mulumba said. "I was just going day by day and doing my best on the practice field and do what I can to not make any mistakes. When it comes to games, do good and not make any mental errors and try to make plays."

Mulumba knows he can't exhale. He's made the final 53, but there's the 46-man gameday roster to focus on. And there's always some other hungry player on the street. Player acquisition and player evaluation never ends.

"There's always a sense of urgency every day. You can't relax, you can't take any days off," he said.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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