Former Hawthorn forward Emerson Jeka has signed with Essendon’s VFL side for the 2024 season.

The 22-year-old joins a slew of recent acquisitions for the Bombers’ VFL program, including fellow former AFL players Xavier O’Neill and Jackson Hately.

Jeka is keen to hit the ground running in the red and black next season.

“I’m going to have the opportunity to play my best football at Essendon and I’m really excited to be a part of what they’re bringing to the VFL program,” Jeka said.

“I’ve been to the NEC Hangar a few times, so I feel pretty familiar with the place and I’m really excited to use the facilities at my disposal.

“The club wants to drive high standards and make everyone better, and I think that’s going to allow me to get the best version of myself.”

Standing at 198cm, Jeka will bring a strong aerial presence to the Bombers’ roster and the versatility to play at both ends of the ground.

Originally from the Altona Junior Football Club and Maribyrnong College, Jeka was selected by Hawthorn with the ninth pick in the 2019 Rookie Draft, going on to play seven games at AFL level with the Hawks.

Jeka’s opportunities at AFL level stemmed from a solid 2021 campaign in the VFL, which saw him boot 23 goals from nine games in the reserves.

Utilised in multiple positions across his time with the Hawks, Jeka averaged over 14 disposals and six marks per game in 13 VFL appearances last season, proof of his ability to impact away from the scoreboard.