This off-season, the Ottawa Redblacks front office has stayed busy signing a a big group of players. On the list of new players on the team is Jovon Durante, a former West Virginia and Florida Atlantic receiver. At the two schools he played NCAA football at he was able to catch a total 124 passes for 1,582 and 12 touchdowns, making a name for himself in his senior year catching 65 passes for 873 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Following his college career, he made a trip to Indianapolis where he participated in the NFL combine. When asked about the experience he comments, “My time at the combine was great. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and was for real one of the best opportunities a football player can get. Talking to NFL coaches and managers and all that was all stuff you dream of as a kid and to be able to go through and do it on the stage there in front of all of the media was an awesome opportunity.” At the combine, Jovon was able to participate in the majority of the drills running a 4.55 40 yard dash although he explains, “I’m not a 40 kind of guy. If you put me alone just to run like that, you won’t get my best time but if you put me up against someone fast with 4.30 speed I promise you will see me at my fastest, maybe even beat him.” Along with his 40 yard dash, Durante jumped a 31.5 inch vertical, 120 inch broad jump while running the 3 cone drill in 7 seconds as well as the 20 yard shuttle in 4.31 seconds.
His combine experience gave him a good look on whats to come in the future as the weekend of the combine he was able to talk to scouts, general managers and coaches from the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos and among the teams he met with he was able to get three different opportunities in NFL mini camps. Of the opportunities, he was first with the Philidelphia Eagles where he spent a rookie mini camp and then going to Seattle for training camp he says, “My (NFL) time in both places were awesome. To be able to be there in the NFL was truly a great experience for me and was a great learning experience for the future like whats next for me in the CFL with the Redblacks.” Durante also had a one day tryout with the Cleveland Browns which was his latest team to be with and he mentions, “At the tryout I had with the Browns, I actually did drills with Micah Wright who is with the Redblacks, so after getting to know him a small bit in Cleveland I reached out to him once I was signed by Ottawa and thats kind of how I first heard about the Redblacks because he signed there.”
Along with Wright, Jovon has been able to interact with other Redblacks players and staff, “When I signed with the Redblacks, just a while later I reached out to the general manager Marcel Desjardins to wish him a hapy new year and then he was checking in on me later to see how I’m doing and also another coach that did that was Suber (Ottawa Redblacks receiver coach) who contacted me.” Just like Micah Wright, Durante was able to cross paths with newly signed quarterback Taryn Christion in Seattle Jovon comments, “I did catch a few balls from him in the training camp their and I remember being in all of the quarterbacks ears to get an inside scoop so I’m sure he remembers me from that.”
As seen from his past, Durante is a very talented receiver and going into his next opportunity in Ottawa many are curious to see if he or others will be on the starting lineup, “I’m not in Ottawa to be on the practice squad, I’m coming there to make plays whether its on special teams or at receiver. I’m read to turn some heads… I feel like I’m a different bread from other receivers, going through the adversity I’ve gone through and the strength I have, I’m a diamond in the rough and I am set to bring some highlight tapes to Ottawa.”
Bringing highlight tapes to TD Place gives a lot of Ottawa Redblacks fans excitement and given the fact the team has the best fans in the league he mentions, “Ottawa can expect a lot of big plays and a different mentality than their used to seeing in a player. They will see a trend setter in me.”