LEE’s SUMMIT, Mo. — That loud burst of noise you may have heard Thursday came from one happy Jackson County family.
Former Lee’s Summit Tiger Felix Anudike-Uzomah is the newest Kansas City Chief after he was selected with the 31st pick in the NFL Draft’s first round.
He’s enjoying a rare feat, being drafted in his hometown by his hometown NFL franchise.
Two terms that are anecdotally synonymous with Anudike-Uzomah — the view that he’s a hard worker and that he’s a late bloomer of sorts.
Anudike-Uzomah was the 2022 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year at Kansas State, starting at defensive tackle for two of his three seasons.
Now his loved ones in Lee’s Summit aren’t surprised to see him drafted high, and seeing him in a Chiefs jersey is a reward for years of busting his tail.
Thursday night turned into a party for Anudike-Uzomah, or “Fee” as he’s known around his high school. Video from a private party shows jubilation in a Lee’s Summit living room when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell read his name.
“I woke up and thought it was a dream. I’m not going to lie,” Anudike-Uzomah said Friday. Hours after he was drafted, he visited patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
The 6-foot-4 defensive end grew up cheering for his hometown Chiefs. Draft experts say Anudike-Uzomah is known for his quick first step and his tendency to terrorize other teams’ quarterbacks.
“To this moment, it’s surreal. I’m blessed by God every day. I’m blessed by the people around me who can share in this experience, too,” Anudike-Uzomah said.
Eric Thomas, Anudike-Uzomah’s head coach at Lee’s Summit High School, said Anudike-Uzomah thought he might become a Chief with that late first-round pick, provided he didn’t slip into the second round.
Anudike-Uzomah was a two-time first-team all-state performer at Lee’s Summit. Thomas said he was a late-bloomer, still playing on the team’s B team as a high school freshman, forcing him to work hard while he grew into his body.
“We were able to use him as an example of how hard you have to play the game. He’s a worker. He works on his craft. He’s going to get better. I think I saw a video where he told (Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnolo) on the phone, ‘I’m going to be your best pass rusher,'” Thomas said Friday.
Tyler Terrance, Felix’s former Lee’s Summit teammate, said it’s special that Anudike-Uzomah has become a Chief. Lee’s Summit High sits less than 20 minutes from Arrowhead Stadium.
“He loves Kansas City. He could have gone so many other places for college football, but he decided,” Terrance said. “Felix is a hometown kid. He’s all about family and being supportive. He’s a good friend. He’s always been home-centric”