On Saturday, April 30th, Ottawa’s Very Own: Jesse Luketa became the fourth football player from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to get drafted by an NFL team. Selected with the 256th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, Luketa was joined by other Ottawa football players who were signed following the draft to NFL teams. The Penn State star was the only one from Ottawa that was drafted but Luiji Vilain, Patrice Rene and Deionte Knight also got calls from NFL teams.
Just after the draft wrapped up Vilain received a call from the Minnesota Vikings, and like Jesse Luketa with the Cardinals they got a steal, and a diamond in the rough with that contract. Vilain, like Luketa has the potential to be a big name pass rusher in the NFL coming off of a 10 sack season with Wake Forest a year ago. To go with Luiji Vilain’s call from the Vikings, both Patrice Rene and Deionte Knight, who both grew up in Ottawa received calls from NFL teams as well for mini camp invites.
Rene is headed off to the New York Giants for their mini camp following a collegiate career split between the University of North Carolina and Rutgers, while Deionte Knight has been invited to both the Washington Commanders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers mini camps. Knight’s journey was a different one than Luketa, Vilain and Rene though. He is receiving this NFL opportunity from a Canadian University at Western while the others are coming out of power 5 NCAA schools. He had 52 tackles and 10 sacks in 11 games, winning the Vanier Cup with the Western Mustangs last season.
These four players, each with different, and equally inspiring journeys taken are both testaments to the fact that the city of Ottawa truly is a football city. You can say what you want about it. Talk as much as you’d like about the hockey in Canada, but with 6 players from Ottawa now being seen on the NFL stage, and a lot more on deck, it is clear that Ottawa’s football takeover is at the best it’s ever been with so much more to come.
This Tuesday, May 3rd will be the 2022 CFL Draft where even more players from the capital will get professional football opportunities. Players like Katley Joseph, Khadeem Pierre, and J.P Cimankinda are expected to get drafted into the CFL on Tuesday, shining a light on even more talent coming out of the capital.