At the University of Northern Colorado, Komotay Koffie hoped head coach Ed McCaffrey would help improve his chances of making it to the NFL. He transferred from New Mexico State for one last season of college football, but that wasn’t the first time he hit the road to chase his dream.
“It doesn’t matter what I go through,” said Koffie, now 25. “I’m incredibly relentless.”
Fast forward to a warm afternoon in March. Koffie is now working tirelessly at Landow Performance to make his dream a reality.
“I don’t want to be that rookie that needs to adjust to the system,” Koffie said. “I want to be that rookie that’s like a veteran and can hit the ground running.”
But what you don’t see in the sunshine is a life’s journey that nearly never began.
“I did have some dark times,” Koffie said. “A lot of people don’t understand I’m not supposed to be here right now.”
In the early 1990s, civil war ravaged the African nation of Liberia. Rebel soldiers set fire to homes like that of Koffie’s grandfather, forcing his mother to flee for her life.
“My mom was pregnant (walking) on foot going country to country. They would be hiding in bushes from rebels who were trying to kill them for no reason,” Koffie said.
His mother Agnes eventually made it to Sierra Leone where she attempted to arrange immigration to America.
“They basically told her ‘Your son’s names are not on this list, it’s just your name,’” Koffie said. “The lady who was doing the interview fell in love with my brother because he was a couple months old. She said, ‘You know what, we’ll figure something out.’ It would have been terrifying for my mom to leave her sons behind and just leave us in war. We weren’t going to make it.”
They escaped the war, but Koffie realized to reach his goals, he’d need to keep moving.
At 15, he decided to leave home.
“Just saying ‘I’m going to go out on my own and chase this dream,’” Koffie said. “My mom she wasn’t happy with it, but she also understands.”
He traversed the United States from Rhode Island to Tennessee to New Mexico, and eventually to Colorado.
He was alone, but never without his mom’s support.
“For her to tell me at the end of the day ‘I’m proud of you son’ — it goes a long way for me,” Koffie said. “It makes everything easier for me.”
Now, his dream is within reach. And that charming younger brother is helping to ease another transition. He’s Colts defensive end Kwity Paye.
“I don’t care that’s (he’s) my little brother, I lean on him for every decision that I make throughout this process,” Koffie said. “It’s a blessing. How many prospects can say they’ve got somebody in the league who they can call up whenever they feel like and say, ‘How is it here?’ That’s why I feel like I’m the most ready prospect here, because there’s nothing you can throw at me that I’m not ready for.”
Komotay and Kwity have never played football together, but that could all change in the upcoming NFL Draft.
“To look in front of me or look to my right and see my brother (Kwity) right there on the field it would be like, wow. It’s so crazy because we always wanted to play on the same team,” Koffie said.
As cool as that moment would be, these two refugees will never forget where they came from. Gratitude defines them, survival drives them, and greatness is their reward.
“Somebody in my position shouldn’t be here,” Koffie said. “That’s the biggest thing (Kwity and I) talk about all the time, we want to use our platforms to inspire.... I’m so grateful to be here and have the opportunity to play this game.”