Recently in the sports headlines was a high school football game which was featured on ESPN between both the well known IMG Academy from Bradenton, Florida and newly founded Bishop Sycamore out of Ohio. The game it self wasn’t too interesting, IMG Academy who fields dozens of division one athletes per season beat Bishop Sycamore 58-0 and for those that watched on ESPN it became unwatchable at some points because of the beating IMG put on Bishop Sycamore but the reason why the game was put into the headlines was because of some uncertainty whether Bishop Sycamore has a real football program or not. The team doesn’t play out of a certain school in Ohio and was started up as a post-graduate football academy where athletes from the age of 17 through 19 can continue to play football after high school and pursue the opportunity to play at the University level which is quite normal across the united states. IMG Academy even plays against a number of programs similar to what Bishop Sycamore was created as, the academy just had a lot of issues to it outside of the fact that people thought it was a made up school. The head coach that coached the team, Roy Johnson has since been fired by the program director Andre Peterson because of some problems from his past that came out after the game was played. Many began posting about the team being a “scam” which led to people worldwide doing research on coaches and players from the program and it came out that, according to multiple reports he has a DUI charge and has been exposed by multiple players from the program that have since moved on from the team regarding on campus problems.
On the Bishop Sycamore roster this season, and someone that played in the game on ESPN against IMG Academy is Jonathan Mambila. Mambila is a Congolese-born, Canadian-raised defensive back for the football team. After moving from the Congo to Ottawa, Canada at 5 years old and then making his way to Montreal not too long afterwards he found himself on the football field. He played football at Dalbé-Viau in Montreal throughout his entire high school career and played alongside a number of great athletes including top Canadian player Edwin Tara-Kolenge who recently committed to Boston College as a linebacker and is on the Dick Butkus watch list this season. Mambila told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic in an interview, “I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level. After high school I didn’t have the opportunities I wanted so I looked at other schools and academies to go to. Bishop Sycamore was where I decided to go.” The versatile defensive back who is also able to play on the offensive side of the ball, even serving as the team’s backup quarterback from his past experience at the position is the only Canadian on the team but is among a list of top players from their respective cities or even countries, playing with players from France and London, England even.
As boarding football program, Bishop Sycamore has some of the best athletes from cities around the United States and also other countries as mentioned. Mambila talks about his team, “We have players from everywhere, and we have the best of the best really.” he continued, “There are guys with division one offers, and are real players. We are all 17, 18, 19 years old just working on getting the opportunity to play at the highest level possible.” Bishop Sycamore players Teldrin Foster, Jeremy Naborne and Adrian Brown headline the list with offers from big name programs like Ohio State, TCU, Tennessee, Michigan, Syracuse and Oregon State. As for the Canadian, Mambila is still exploring his opportunities as he is a part of the 2022 recruiting class and sits with zero offers at the division one level. When asked about his future he quotes, “I don’t know what I am doing right now. I would like to play division one but I don’t have the offers so I will probably go the JUCO route but football does have to come to an end at some point too so I would like to get a degree no matter what. I want to be an engineer later on after football and I need to go to school for that to make a better life for my future family.”
As for football, the 6-foot, 190 pound defensive back’s 2021 season with Bishop Sycamore looks to be out of the picture as the following games on their schedule have been postponed. He explained, “Right now we don’t have any football on our schedule. After everything happened our games were postponed and we don’t know too much about what the rest of the season looks like. We are just getting all of our information from the coaches right now.”
To sum up Zlomislic’s interview with Mambila, Bishop Sycamore’s sole Canadian had said, “Its disappointing.” regarding the situation they are in and the game against IMG Academy, “We didn’t show who we are in that game. We are actually a really good team, we’ve got some of the best players and we want it bad but we’ve been put in a bad situation as a team.”
A full story on what has happened and the truth behind the program at Bishop Sycamore is expected to come out in a documentary format with the likes of Kevin Hart, Michael Straham, LeBron James and Rich Paul. Right now each of them are battling for the rights of the story and will be a large project when it comes time to put in the work.