Danny Ezechukwu moved to Austin in the spring after his wife got a job with Oracle. He's been working odd jobs around town while he looks for full-time employment.
One of those odd jobs was helping Shannon McCormick prepare for some home remodeling.
"We realized we had a whole bunch of stuff that we had to get packed up quickly," McCormick said. "So, we went to TaskRabbit and found somebody who said they were good at moving and packing."
TaskRabbit allows users to post moving and handyman requests; freelancers pick up jobs as they're available. That's how McCormick connected with Ezechukwu.
"We were just making small talk" while moving a bookshelf, McCormick said. "His wife is from Atlanta. My wife is from Atlanta. His wife had gotten a job here in high tech. I work in tech."
McCormick eventually asked Ezechukwu what he did for a living. The response surprised him.
"He's like, ‘I'm doing this for the time being, but I just signed with the Philadelphia Eagles,'" McCormick laughed. "And I was like, 'Oh, OK, man. That's awesome!'"
The NFL officially lists Ezechukwu as 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. He started three years as a linebacker and defensive end for Purdue. He earned an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team last season and has made the Academic All-Big Ten team twice. He earned his degree in industrial management in 2017 and was working on a graduate degree.
Impressive credentials, but far from a sure thing in pro football, so he moved with his wife and son from Indiana to Austin.
"She got a job down here and I was onboard immediately," Ezechukwu said. "She fell in love with it, moved down here. And after OTAs [offseason workouts] finished, I was on a plane."
Since then, he's been spending as much time as he can with the family, working out and doing what he calls his side hustle.
"I've been trying to fill my time constructively," he said. "[I] got a few jobs. It actually pays pretty decent. You get to meet some cool people, get to make some change, you get to help some people, so I was like, why not?"
But as of this morning, he's onto something that could pay a whole lot more: trying to make the best team in the NFL, the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
"Sometimes I gotta remind myself these guys just won the Super Bowl, you know, so how lucky am I?" he said. "Out of all the guys that got sent to different teams, you know, I get to go to the Super Bowl champions. And I get to see the way they do things up there. And being there firsthand and spending some time up there during minicamps, I can definitely understand why they were such a successful organization last year."
It looks like the Eagles are set up for success again this season. Most of Philadelphia's starters are returning. They're in the enviable position of having two good quarterbacks, former first-round pick Carson Wentz and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. They are loaded at Ezechukwu's position, too.
"There's a lot of good guys up there," Ezechukwu said. "Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Mike Bennett just came on the roster, you know, Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan. There's a whole bunch of guys in that room. So, it's awesome to just sit back, be quiet, learn from them and soak it all in."
This is a team that will be difficult for some late-round draft picks to make, let alone an undrafted free agent. But Ezechukwu is taking it a day at a time – starting today when he'll report to training camp.
"It's a blessing to be on the roster as of right now, but everybody knows that NFL teams don't take 90 players into a season," he said "My goal is to make the 53-man roster."