On Friday December 17th the 2021-2022 NCAA bowl season kicked off with Coastal Carolina and Northern Illinois in the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida at Exploria Stadium. The game was just one of forty four scheduled through the National Championship on Monday January 10th. Each of the bowl games signify excellence and reward the teams on a great season, in which they have won 6 or more games.
Some of the teams that have been rewarded with a bowl game have a lot of talent on their rosters, including some Canadian talent. In the first bowl game of the NCAA’s bowl season, Coastal Carolina’s hybrid linebacker/safety Enock Makonzo, originally from Lachine, Quebec made 10 tackles and 2 tackles for loss in their 47-41 win over Northern Illinois.
Makonzo wasn’t the only Canadian to appear in a bowl game though, there were a number of others to make an appearance including West Virginia’s Canadian trio on defence. The West Virginia Mountaineers had Akheem Mesidor, Deshawn Stevens and Alonzo Addae representing Canada in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. Addae, who was drafted in the second round of the 2021 CFL Draft by the Ottawa Redblacks made four tackles in the game while Mesidor made two of his own. West Virginia ended up losing the game to Minnesota 18-6, but it was a good way to close out the 2021 NCAA season and move on to the future for each of the three Canadians.
The Chick Fil-A Peach Bowl between the Pittsburgh Panthers and Michigan State Spartans also featured Canadian pass catcher Jared Wayne. A product of Peterborough, Ontario, Wayne caught one of Pitt’s 3 touchdowns in their loss to MSU.
On New Year’s Eve, the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl featured four Canadians, all from the nation’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario. Rutgers University had defensive back Patrice Rene, nose tackle Rene Konga and pass rusher Wesley Bailey on their sideline while Wake Forest had pass rusher Luiji Vilain on theirs. Vilain had a breakout senior campaign in 2021, recording 9 sacks on the season, leading the Deamon Deacons. He and Wake Forest came away with the win, finishing the game with a 38-10 final score. Although he didn’t record any stats in the game, and neither did both Patrice Rene and Rene Konga, Wesley Bailey did, making 3 tackles and deflecting a pass.
Also from the nation’s capital are Penn State’s Christian Veilleux, Jesse Luketa and Jonathan Sutherland who were featured alongside other Canadians Malick Meiga and Theo Johnson against Arkansas in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. Arkansas came up on top at the end of the game, winning 24-10, but Luketa shined as he goes into the Reese’s Senior Bowl in February, making 9 tackles, including one for a loss in his final game with the Nittany Lions, Sutherland made 5 tackles from safety and Veilleux made an appearance, completing one pass for 3 yards and running for a 13 yard gain. Sutherland is to return to Penn State for 2022 and Veilleux will look to get a larger role in the offence.
Ole Miss’ Deane Leonard and Tavius Robinson featured in the All-State Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day as well. Edge rusher Tavius Robinson didn’t record any stats on the night, however Leonard was able to make 2 tackles and deflect two passes against Baylor. Baylor won the game 21-7, but it may have been the last look that NFL scouts got of both Leonard and Robinson as they both are draft eligible.
There are just two bowl games left on tap for football fans, including the national championship on Monday January 10th between Alabama and Georgia. Canadian receiver John Metchie is still out for Alabama with a torn ACL therefore there will not be any Canadians in the big game.