Through writing these 5 pieces on Ottawa’s best defensive backs, I personally have learnt more about the talent that the city has at the position and there’s no better way to conclude the list than write about if not the most underrated player at his position, Denny Ferdinand. On the list I created, I recognized that I have written about players that most people know about, players that have played in the states and have already created a name for themselves in the city of Ottawa. Though, the last two players, both Etienne Hachokake and Denny Ferdinand are players who have the ability to play at a high level but either have more work to do to get there, or haven’t gotten enough looks.
As for Denny Ferdinand, it’s proven that he is a stud on the field, standing at 5 foot, 11 inches and 170 pounds he is an averaged sized american football defensive back but he doesn’t play like an average defensive back. Since starting to play football at 7 years old with the Kanata Knights in NCAFA, Ferdinand has been a defensive playmaker. With the Knights he was able to win two defensive MVP awards as well as a coaches choice MVP award. He played with the Kanata Knights until he was 17 years old, although while playing in NCAFA, the National Capital Amateur Football Association he was able to play for other teams as well, where he had the opportunity to play against more competition. Other teams he played for consisted of both the Myers Riders in OVFL and Ottawa Sooners of the OPFL. With the two teams, he was able to play against the best players in the province of Ontario. Future teammate of Denny Ferdinand, and one that played OVFL himself, Alain Cimankinda had commented, “OVFL was big. In Ottawa if you played OVFL you were one of the best in the city simply because of who you were playing against. You would have guys around the province, and if you won you would play against teams around the country. It was all around a great league to play in.” After the time he spent in OVFL with the Myers Riders, at 14 years old he started up shop with the newly added Ottawa Sooners of the new OPFL. He ended up playing with his brother, Kaseem Ferdinand until he was 17 in the OPFL, and with the Sooners he was able to make a large impact, having nearly 40 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 4 total touchdowns in his most recent season where he was also named defensive MVP for the team.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, Ferdinand hasn’t been able to play since he was 17, last year with the Kanata Knights but that past season signified exactly what kind of player he is and so has all of the training he’s done in the past year. In the 2019 NCAFA season, he made well over 30 tackles, intercepted 13 passes and scored 2 touchdowns, proving exactly what kind of player he can be and what he’s capable of in the future.
For the future, Denny Ferdinand, like all football players, wants to play at a high level, hoping to make it to the CFL or NFL level someday soon and for him he’s just getting closer. Just this past October, Denny, alongside his brother Kassem committed to the Carleton University in Ottawa. The Carleton Ravens, over time have done a tremendous job recruiting and this year with this signing, it shows that they’ve continued to excel in the field.
With that being said, with Denny Ferdinand now being placed onto the Ravens’ defense, the city of Ottawa and the country of Canada will be exposed to the exact player that he is. Like mentioned earlier, he is an average sized defensive back, standing at 5’11, 170 pounds but he doesn’t play like an average defensive back. Throughout his life he’s played both sides of the ball and on top of that he’s played special teams. He has shown tremendous understanding of the game of football, and his athletic ability lets him play everywhere on the field to show it. He runs a 4.60 40 yard dash and on film he demonstrates that he knows exactly how to use his speed. Whether it is on a kick, or interception return he has great vision and can flip the field easily, he can use his speed in coverage and understands when he has an advantage on the receiver while knowing what to do if he doesn’t. All in all, his football I.Q and athletic ability is something special which you don’t see often with the same player. It allows him to do everything you need him to as a defensive back. Going into coverage, playing safety, playing in the flat, attacking the run, following the ball, going into blitz or even in Ferdinand’s case go on the offensive side of the ball, if you ask him, he will do it. When asked about his play on the field he had said himself, “What sets me aside from other defensive backs is simply that I am a wide receiver playing defensive back.” The quote may be short, though it is true. While playing the defensive back position, he is able to stay side by side with a receiver, running with him, almost running the route for him and when the ball is thrown he has ball skills like no other which helps him win the 50/50 ball, giving him an advantage on the receivers.
For a coach, it is shown that Denny Ferdinand is a great add to any team and can easily become an asset on any team he suits up for. Having the ability to play all over the field is truly amazing but what tops it off is the success he has doing so. You often have a player on the defense that can play safety, defensive back, and halfback while also volunteering to play on offense as well, though Denny has proven to be able to do it all successfully. When asked about what he thought of Denny at first sight, well known High School coach Jean Sorphia Guillaume from Ottawa had commented, “I was shocked. To see him out there, doing one on ones and training with the guys I coach, he is a hell of an athlete.” He later said, “When I saw him first I thought to myself, ‘he shouldn’t be here’ Denny and his brother (Kaseem) should both be playing at the highest level possible for his age group.” When Jean Guillaume had talked more about Denny he had said, “He is very dynamic. You can see it on his film alone, he knows how to play in all positions, defensive back is one but he has the ability to play at both strong safety and free safety as well. That is a dream for any coach, to see that not only is he very coachable but he knows how to use what he learns at each spot on the field.” Talking more about being coachable, Guillaume says, “You can say ‘yes coach’ as long as you want, and I’ve seen it before where someone says ‘yes coach’ but what I say or what another coach had said goes right through them and they don’t use it but with (Denny) it is clear that he understands what coaches are telling him, he knows a lot about the game and it shows on film because of how much he understands that every second of every game is important.”
He also had pointed out, “Knowing what I know, having coached in Florida before I have seen a lot of great dbs and by far (Denny) is on the list and just seeing that he will be playing in the CIS with the Ravens I know they got a steal with him. This is a player that, without a doubt should be playing in the states so I think he will show that with Carleton and they’re getting a dog in him.”
In all, Denny Ferdinand, just from watching him on the field at Sooners and Kanata Knights and to see him continuously get better training with former CFL wide receiver Eddie “Downtown” Brown, it is clear that he is a special player. He has so many skills that some don’t have and has proven to be an impact player on every team he has been on and I’m sure he will do the same at the next level.