On Wednesday November 17th 2021 a press release was sent out to media covering the 2022 Cajun All-Star Bowl which is set to be played in Beaumont Texas on February 12th. The press release included the trail blazing news that J.P Cimankinda is invited to play in their 2022 all-star game. J.P Cimankinda, who plays running back for the University of Ottawa and had a tremendous 2021 campaign with the Gee Gees is the first Canadian player invited to the game, but is expected to be one of 16 playing in Beaumont come February.
Cimankinda, in just 6 regular season games this year, on 76 carries ran for 426 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry on the season and 99.5 yards per game with over 10 offensive touches. In addition to his regular season totals, in the two post season games, J.P Cimankinda, who could be the best power back in Canada ran for 221 yards and a score on 44 carries while also catching one pass for two yards over the two games. He averaged 5 yards per carry, and helped lead the University of Ottawa to their first playoff victory since the 2014 season.
In last week’s press release, executive director of the Cajun All-Star Bowl Bryan Beasley had wrote the following:
[Houston, TX] – The Cajun AllStar Bowl’s Scouting department is proud to announce its first pick of the 16 Canadian players to play in the Cajun Bowl. Yesterday the staff sent its invitation to University of Ottawa running back number 5 JP Cimankinda.
Compared to being the Canadian Version of NFL’s Derrick Henry, JP shows great size & explosiveness out of the back field. He knows how to always find his way upfield and has great field vision that plays a part in his ability to manipulate and stay elusive to defenders. He’s also a punishing running back, which makes him fun to watch.
This news for J.P Cimankinda comes as major news for the football community in Ottawa, after playing at all levels of football in the nation’s capital and being a part of a large football family in Ottawa, J.P is known by many across Ottawa. If he is able to play in the 2022 Cajun All-Star Bowl, in which he will play against a number of NCAA athletes in front of NFL scouts and have success doing so, it will open the eyes of other athletes from the 613 to work harder and eventually get to the stage of life Cimankinda is at, where the work begins to pay off.
Fellow Ottawa-raised athlete, and another football player that was helped by 2020 Brian Kilrea award winner Coach Jean Guillaume, Jesse Luketa also received an invite to an all-star game, the famous Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. It is clear that football in Ottawa is on the rise. With athletes like Cimankinda, and Luketa succeeding, getting opportunities to play in big events like the Cajun Bowl and Senior Bowl, there will only be more opportunities for the future athletes of Ottawa as more people continue to step up in the city to create change for the football culture.
Stay tuned for more on the 2022 Cajun All-Star Bowl as more Canadians, and maybe more Ottawa-raised athletes get their opportunity to play in it.