Is 7 on 7 the next big thing for Canadian football? A look into what Philip Edworthy and former CFLer Keon Raymond have started in Canada

Over recent years we have seen a larger than expected growth from the game of football in Canada. With over 20 Canadians now on rosters in the NFL and over one hundred at the NCAA division one level, it is fantastic to see Canadian athletes getting opportunities around the world, at the highest of stages but there is a lot that went into getting to this point and as Canadians around the game of football there are ways that you can continue growing the game in Canada. One major factor in its growth already has been the recruiting. In the past it was extremely difficult for athletes to get an opportunity to play across the border being from Canada; University camps weren’t as popular and accessible as they are today, sending film was much more difficult and the biggest of them all is that the coaching style was very different than it is in today’s world. In Canada coaches were there to coach the fundamentals of the game of football. Of course that still is the one of the biggest parts of coaching but the new generation of coaches in Canada have also added to it. Bringing in the life aspect, the school aspect and the training that goes into being a world class athlete. We now have the technology to send film to University coaches with one click of a button which is great but what has changed a lot of lives hasn’t been the upload of HUDL, it has been coaching. A prime example of the new generation of coaches is Philip Edworthy from the Greator Toronto Area.

Edworthy and Sean Gaudon started MVP Football Academy in 2016, being just one of many football programs in Canada but one of the only ones at the time that offered what they did exactly. It begun as a football association, giving the younger athletes the best opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the game and improve as a football player, though shortly after starting MVP Football Academy in 2016 Philip Edworthy was introduced to University recruiting. “When I first started I wasn’t too familiar with recruiting.” Edworthy said, “When we started to get more involved with the athletes we went to more University camps and the first one we went to one of the players got an offer.” After a couple offers to division one schools and going to more University camps MVP Football Academy expanded into a 7 on 7 team, playing in 7 on 7 tournaments in the states and some in Canada when they came up. “It was an awesome way to get more exposure for the kids in recruiting and they are fun tournaments to be at as well.” explained coach Philip Edworthy, “We were having success with the recruiting aspect and got to meet a lot of people, building connections and even at a tournament in California we were able to meet with another Canadian team.”

Keon Raymond Is Keeping The Game Going - Calgary Stampeders
Keon Raymond’s ‘Big Time Players’ 7 on 7 teams

While at a 7 on 7 football tournament in California, Philip Edworthy met Keon Raymond, 10 year professional football defensive back who is mostly known as a two time Grey Cup Champion and two time west all-star as a part of the Calgary Stampeders defensive back field. Raymond, since retiring from the CFL in 2016 has begun his career as a football coach. Starting with his own 7 on 7 team in Calgary and now being a part of the Canadian wide 7 on 7 football league started by Philip Edoworthy of MVP Football Academy in Ontario. When talking about 7 on 7 football and his start in it he comments, “When I retired from football I knew I had to find something to do and I wanted to do something in football. Being in Calgary for as long as I was playing for the Stampeders I built a connection with the community. I saw their spring season that they play and then a fall season too, coming from the states we only have one season and having two tackle football seasons in one year is too much tackle, seeing how popular 7 on 7 teams are in the south and the impact it has in recruiting I started my own 7 on 7 team in Calgary.” Raymond’s 7 on 7 football team in Calgary, ‘The Big Time Players’ started just over three years ago, playing the majority of games in the Calgary area while participating in travel seasons across the border and now with MVP Football Academy’s newest innovation in Canada they will be a part of Canadian wide tournaments as well. In just a short period of time, Keon and Phillip James have each noticed a big impact that the 7 on 7 football game has on recruiting in Canada, Raymond says, “Its big. When you go to tournaments in the states it’s amazing what kind of exposure you have there. Coaches are either there in person or watching afterwards with film, instead of doing an extra tackle season like a lot of guys still do in Canada spending time in the gym, training and showcasing talent has gone a long way.”

Keon Raymond has now seen a number of his players get opportunities at the next level, soon Quarterback Danny McMullen will be a part of the list. The quarterback is ranked as Canadian football Chat’s number one quarterback in Alberta and as he preps for his next couple of seasons south of the border with Jesse Chinchar’s Clearwater Academy International Knights in Florida, Raymond looks back at everything the 7 on 7 game has done in McMullen’s journey and journeys of future Canadian athletes. “7 on 7 football should be bigger in Canada.” said Keon Raymond, and to back his opinion up MVP Football Academy’s Philip Edworthy states, “There are over 40 players that I’ve coached in just the span of a few years at MVP Football that have been given opportunities to play at the next level. Seeing the success I’ve had since just 2016, if more coaches follow my lead and the lead of many other great coaches in Canada we can have something special and soon we won’t have to go to the states to perform, the states could come to us.”

Argos ink veteran Keon Raymond to free agent deal - CFL.ca
Keon Raymond with the Stampeders
Former Stampeder Brings 7 On 7 Football To Chestermere - Strathmore Now
Keon Raymond with Kamar Jorden and Bo Levi Mitchell of the Calgary Stampeders at a 7 on 7 event in Calgary

Having University coaches from the NCAA Division one level coming to Canada for 7 on 7 tournaments is a big goal set by Edworthy and Raymond but until then they hope to grow the game of football in Canada, starting with what they are a part of most, the 7 on 7 game. “There hasn’t been a lot of skill position players that come out of Canada and excel but as of recent its become more popular to see them. The 7 on 7 game can be a big help in that progression as we continue to see Canadian skill position players get better and get opportunities south of the border.” Said Keon Raymond, but Keon Raymond is not the only professional athlete recognizing that there is talent in Canada. It has been something that CFL and NFL players have known for some time now but it is only now being recognized because of the amount of opportunities and examples out there. When talking about how the game has grown, Raymond remembered something that Colton Hunchak said to him at one of the 7 on 7 events that they were coaching at, “Colton was telling me how there wasn’t anything like this when he was these kids’ ages and seeing where Colton is now, being in the CFL without these organized 7 on 7 tournaments and the recruiting and coaching, you wonder where he would be with it all and he’s not the only one in Canada that you can think that with. There was a lot of talented guys that I played with in the CFL and now with what we are setting up we are only going to see brighter futures.”

Colton Hunchak, a Calgary native who played his University ball at York University in the OUA is now a member of the Calgary Stampeders, Keon Raymond’s former team and caught 16 passes for 231 yards in his rookie campaign in 2019, just one of many Canadians balling out at the next level and giving back to the younger generation. We are now in a point in time where we see 20 Canadians in the NFL, 6 going to this year’s NFL Combine and hundreds of Canadians having success at the division one level. It is truly a great thing to see for Canadian athletes and coaches, for Philip Edworthy though, he’s not surprised, “we all knew we had guys here that could compete at the next level, now we just have better opportunities and coaching to showcase it. Having professional athletes giving back to communities Canada-wide like what Keon does in Calgary and the University camps that coaches take their players to, everything factors into what we are seeing happen with players succeeding.”

To now begin the growth of 7 on 7 football in Canada, MVP Football Academy is hosting their first ever 7 on 7 football tournament in Toronto this May, followed by Keon Raymond’s Canada-wide tournament in June hosted in Calgary where the 7 on 7 Association of Canada will have the best 7 on 7 organizations like Jordan Linnen’s Game Ready team from Vancouver, BC and Bradley Black’s Recruit Ready team from Winnipeg. Its proven that there are a number of great athletes and coaches in Canada, the 7 on 7 format will only continue to demonstrate just that.

Former University of Ottawa running back Donald Shaw explores life as a strength and conditioning coach

Monday Morning Quarterback: Gee-Gees triumph over Ravens in 51st OUA Panda  Game — U SPORTS

Over recent years we have seen a large growth in the University of Ottawa football program. It has become something the school is proud of and with a number of former Gee Gees athletes now playing the sport professionally it has given athletes at the school hope to do the same. Being a professional football player, being able to get paid to play a children’s game is something many dream of and as for Donald Shaw, at the University of Ottawa he was just one major step away from the dream but found love in another field.

Photos: Gee-Gees 32, Ravens 10 in 2019 Panda Game, Oct. 5 | Ottawa Citizen

Growing up in Toronto, Shaw wasn’t always into sports, he says, “I was a big time gamer. I had a set up with a camera at home and that was what I did for fun.” but after trying out and making the team at his high school, Richview Collegiate Institute he built a connection with the game. He went on to earn the starting running back position in high school and going into his senior season he realized that there could be a future in the game. When talking about going to the next level he mentioned, “Getting school paid for through sports was something that I looked into as soon as it became possible and U-Ottawa was one of the schools that offered me for football. Being able to go there for school and play for such a great team was great.”

The team, the Ottawa Gee Gees which Donald Shaw played for did very well during his tenure there and falling back on some of his memories, one of the most memorable moments over his 4 seasons with the school was the Panda Game touchdown in 2019. October 5th, 2019 the University of Ottawa against the Carleton University Ravens at the CFL’s Ottawa REDBLACKS’ stadium, TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, the Gee Gees took down the Ravens 32-10 for the city bragging rights and Shaw was lucky enough to be one of the schools 4 scorers in the game. When looking back on the moment Donal Shaw had remembered, “The crowd was awesome. Everyone was just so ecstatic and to score in front of that many fans was special, especially with the group that we had. One of the best memories that I had at school would just be being in the locker room or being with my teammates because we all had that bond where all of our stresses were gone while we were together.”

The group that the Ottawa Gee Gees had in 2019 when they last beat the Ravens in the Panda Game at TD Place saw a group of players go the professional route, including defensive end Reshaan Davis who stayed in Ottawa getting drafted by the Ottawa Redblacks but unfortunately Shaw was not among the group drafted. Eventhough he hadn’t got drafted by a team in the CFL where he would have played football professionally, that didn’t count out a job in sports being in Shaw’s future. While at the University of Ottawa, Donald Shaw took Kinesiology and did an internship with Capital Strength in Ottawa, really falling in love with the strength and conditioning field, enough to eventually be a coach at Capital Strength.

Following the Kinesiology course at the University of Ottawa and the internship at Capital Strength, Shaw earned himself the certification to be a strength and conditioning coach, coaching young athletes in the Ottawa area to be stronger in their respective sports. Getting the certificate he said, “It was great. Now that I have been in it and actually doing work I have been able to see a lot of people, help get them better and of all I just want to be a positive influence on everyone that I coach.”

Being a positive influence like he hoped to be when he started is something that has brought him to being a bigger name in the community, having a nomination in the 2020 Faces Magazine Ottawa Awards. Getting that nomination he thankfully commented, “I am just happy to be where I am today, having the support in Ottawa that I have, I really wouldn’t be where I am without the support from everyone.”

2021 NFL Draft full of Canadian talent; future of Canadian football “extremely bright”

On the opening day of the 2020 NFL season, on Sunday September 13th, 2020 there were 1316 players that suited up and wore an NFL jersey. Adding on top of that number, with both of the games from Thursday night football between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans as well as the Monday night showdowns with both Denver, Tennessee and the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers there were a total 1504 players that stepped foot on an NFL field in week one. That marks 47 active players on each of the 32 rosters in the NFL, though there are also 6 healthy, or injury scratches each week and in 2020 due to Covid-19 the NFL allowed a maximum of 16 practice roster players, putting that into the sum, on September 13th for the first Sunday of the 2020 NFL season there were approximately 2208 players on NFL rosters, only 20 of those 2208 players were Canadian. If you want to do the math for that one, that would be a whopping 0.9% of the NFL. Not even one percent of the NFL is Canadian, but following a year where 7 were added to the list of Canadians in the big league, the time for Canadian football players seems to be right now and this year’s NFL and CFL Draft class is a perfect example of exactly that.

Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans Lock Arms in 'Moment of Unity' on  Opening Night
Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans in week one of the 2020 NFL season

Following the 2020 NFL Draft which was virtual due to Covid-19 we saw both Neville Gallimore of Ottawa and Chase Claypool of Abbotsford enter the big league. They were among 7 players that entered the NFL in 2020 and looking at the prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft there is a good chance there are more players to give Gallimore and Claypool some company as Canadian draft picks in the NFL. In the 2021 NFL Draft there will be 256 players added to the 32 teams, including on average 10-12 un-drafted signings from each team. If that is correct, there will be over 600 players introduced to the NFL lifestyle by the start of the 2021 NFL season, whether that be for training camp, a practice roster spot or even an active roster spot to play among the 47 players dressed every Sunday and inside those 600 athletes set to enter the NFL, expect 5 Canadians or more to be added to the NFL. Unlike past years where we are lucky to see one Canadian drafted or signed following the draft, this year’s draft will feature Canadian stars Chuba Hubbard, Josh Palmer, Alaric Jackson, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Jevon Holland and Benjamin St Juste who all have earned themselves an invite to the NFL combine and could be brought into the NFL come May. When asked about the number of Canadians invited this year, CFL Ottawa Redblacks scout Jean-Marc Edmé mentioned, “Its a great honour to see players from where I’m from getting these opportunities and I’m not surprised because of the amount of Canadian players that we see playing at each stage of football. There are a lot of players playing NCAA and before that prep school in the US and the combine, the NFL is just when they get that recognition and opportunity. This year we may see 4 or 5 players get drafted even after the combine and the process coming from Canada.”

Canada's Chase Claypool taking breakout rookie season in stride
Chase Claypool with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his rookie year

Josh Palmer, 6-foot-2 receiver from the University of Tennessee out of Brampton, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario native, Iowa Hawkeye offensive lineman Alaric Jackson and University of Minnesota, Montreal-born defensive back Benjamin St Juste each participated in this year’s Reeses Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. All three prospects put on a show at the all-star game, being coached by NFL coaches and placed on a platform for NFL scouts to see exactly what they can do playing alongside and against some of the best athletes in the 2021 draft class. Palmer even caught a touchdown pass from Texas A&M record breaking quarterback and future NFLer Kellen Mond, and following a season which cemented his NFL Draft stock Benjamin St Juste was able to make several plays, including a couple pass breakups against Alaric Jackson’s offence. At offensive tackle, Alaric Jackson wasn’t able to make too many plays in the big game, but made a good impression in the practices. All three of them improved their draft stock heavily and alongside studs running back Chuba Hubbard and Oregon’s Jevon Holland they could be a part of the next generation of Canadians in the NFL. When asked about this year’s NFL draft class, president of Football Canada, TSN’s Krown Gridiron Nation broadcaster and patron of the Jon Cornish trophy Jim Mullin said, “There are a lot of great Canadians available in this year’s draft and it is an example of what we have been working on here in Canada for the last decade-plus. Here in Canada we have always had professional outcomes, its just that it hasn’t always been in the NFL.” he went on to explain and make himself clear, “Before we had the odd player go state side but now with what has been built in the CFL and in the grass roots in Canada we are seeing it a lot more, this year we will see that.”

St-Juste showing he can tick all boxes at pro level - CFL.ca
Montreal native and Minnesota University defensive back Benjamin St Juste

As Mullin dissected this year’s NFL prospects which are from north of the border he picked out some of the superior athletes, starting with Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard which he said he’s “disappointed” in the draft stock that the NFL has him at right now. Hubbard led the NCAA in rushing in 2019 with 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns on 328 carries and was also able to catch 53 passes for an additional 479 yards and 3 touchdowns in his 3 seasons as the Cowboys’ starting running back. Mullin, when talking about him had mentioned, “The NFL reports coming out now for the draft have him going as late as day three which I don’t believe. He is a top tier talent and is a true talent coming from Canada, which is a big reason why he won the Jon Cornish in 2019 and if the right franchise can get him in the NFL he can showcase that there too.” Going behind Hubbard and why he was so successful with Oklahoma State, Jim Mullin believes he has “world class speed” and with all of that said, in addition to what Chuba Hubbard did in University, anybody who needs a running back, whether that be because of free agency or something else Chuba Hubbard is ready to make plays at the next level as early as today. Some teams that may be in on him would be the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills because of a need at the running back position or simply because he could make the team that much better with his explosiveness.

Hubbard honoured by Oilers during pre-game ceremony | Sherwood Park News
Chuba Hubbard at his hometown’s Edmonton Oilers game in 2019 following a phenomenal season which won him the Jon Cornish trophy

Alongside Hubbard, and another Canadian skill position player that we are set to see at the next level would be Brampton, Ontario’s very own Joshua Palmer. Palmer spent 4 seasons with the University of Tennessee, playing a key role on the offence with now NFL receivers Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, though one thing that Palmer was able to show more than the other Volunteers’ receivers over the span of his NCAA career was his consistency. Mullin said to me as I talked to him about Palmer, “He played extremely well at Tennessee and eventhough he’s dealt with inconsistency with his quarterbacks in University he has stayed a strong option on each down. He is a player who I’ve watched in person and met in person while working on our show with TSN and he’s a great personality, he has a lot of potential for his future.” Something, unlike Chuba Hubbard that helped raise Palmer’s draft stock was his participation at the 2021 NFL/NCAA Senior Bowl where, as mentioned previously he caught a touchdown pass from Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond but outside of the game itself he caught the eyes of a lot of NFL personalities throughout the week he was out there, including former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah.

Following the 2021 Reeses Senior Bowl Jeremiah has mentioned on NFL Network where he is now found on working on draft preparation and scouting along side Bucky Brooks, “He looked smooth and fluid in one-on-ones, he was able to get over the top of coverage and tracked the ball well.” And then added, “There wasn’t a lot of buzz about him coming into the week but I thought he was really consistent.” Consistency is something every team in the NFL hopes to have in a receiver and with Josh Palmer that is exactly what you’re going to get if you draft him. As of now, being over a month away until the NFL Draft, pending all of the combine results Josh Palmer looks to be a third round, fourth round pick in this year’s NFL Draft; anything else makes him a complete steal. Some of the best fits for Palmer and teams that he would excel with could be the New England Patriots where he can play next to fellow Canadian Nkeal Harry, the Cincinnati Bengals with A.J Green on the back half of his career, the Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions and the New York Jets. Each team named, and even others would be among some of Palmer’s top fits for this year’s draft pending free agency and everything ahead of the draft, but Palmer is a big player that can play anywhere.

Joshua Palmer (@Flowercitysown) | Twitter
Josh Palmer at a practice during Senior Bowl week

He can play anywhere and he can be successful anywhere as long as he is given a fair chance and passed to consistently to make plays at receiver but a player that can make an equal impact to Palmer in the NFL would be Alaric Jackson. Jackson has been on the top of every CFL Draft Prospect list since we got news that he was entering this year’s class and the Iowa Hawkeye offensive lineman has every reason to be one of the best Canadians on everybody’s scout sheets heading into the NFL Draft. Coming out of Windsor, Ontario, football is something that Alaric Jackson was put into at a young age, after seeing fellow Windsor natives Tyrone Crawford and Luke Wilson make their ways to the NFL and a number more going to the CFL it was then realized by Jackson that his future could include football. At first you start small, looking at the CFL but after going across the border to play high school football in Detroit, Jim Mullin says Jackson’s focus shifted, “He began more serious about football and being around the football culture state side you are always shown the NFL lifestyle and after going to Iowa he showed his dominance at the offensive line position and he has a lot of potential moving forward.” Mullin mentions, “He’s a quality pickup for anyone.”

Iowa OL Alaric Jackson is an athletic offensive lineman with a mean streak
Windsor native Alaric Jackson with Iowa

One last player talked about by Football Canada and TSN’s Jim Mullin in my interview with him was Amen Ogbongbemiga who played on the defensive side of the ball with Chuba Hubbard’s Oklahoma State Cowboys. Ogbongbemiga really broke out in 2019 as one of the best players on the Cowboys’ defence, making 100 tackles as an edge rusher having an additional 5 sacks on the year and then made just as big of an impact in the interior in the 2020 NCAA season. In 2020 as a inside linebacker with Oklahoma State Amen Ogbongbemiga made 76 tackles and 2.5 sacks, cementing his 2020 NFL Draft stock as one of the best available linebackers and as for the CFL Draft, if he isn’t drafted into the NFL he should be drafted within the first 3 picks. Mullin compares him to CFL all-stars and potential future hall-of-famers Alex Singleton and Solomon Ellimimian, though as of now another great example of what kind of player Amen is and could be at the next level could be Ottawa Redblacks’ linebacker Micah Awe or even NFL star Hasaon Reddick who, just like Ogbongbemiga is extremely versatile, having the ability to play linebacker and on the line all in the same series. What sticks out the most from Jim Mullin’s evaluation on Amen Ogbongbemiga was his description on his versatility and the way he adapts to the game, “He has the ability to make plays in the backfield but he also had sideline to sideline speed, making him one of the best Canadians available for the NFL and definitely the CFL.”

The three players talked about by Football Canada president Jim Mullin are all worth being talked about and even drafted into the NFL but those are just 3 of many Canadians available to CFL and NFL teams this year. There are three other players, in addition to Amen Ogbongbemiga, Josh Palmer and Chuba Hubbard that were invited to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Unfortunately it will all be done virtually this year in place of it being at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis but Canadians Jevon Holland, Alaric Jackson and Benjamin St Juste will all be added to the previous list of athletes going to perform for NFL scouts as well as a number of CFL scouts depending how their NFL drafts go. They will all run their 40 yard dash, and 20 yard shuttle run while doing a vertical jump, broad jump and the bench press. Each of the drills will be recorded and given proof that it is real, whether that be from a coach that was there or something else but the players also have another opportunity to showcase themselves at their school’s pro day.

Most division one and division two schools have a pro day, some are larger than others because of who is there or where they are but there are scouts watching every single pro day, therefore if you are a player that didn’t have the biggest 2020 NCAA season, you have the pro day to showcase what you can do athletically, a number of Canadian players that weren’t given a shot at this year’s combine will be in that exact position. To name a few, Virginia receiver Terrell Jana, Idaho quarterback Mike Beaudry, North Carolina State defensive lineman Daniel Joseph, Buffalo receiver Dominic Johnson, Cincinnati tight end Bruno Labelle, New Mexico offensive lineman Sage Doxtater and Central Michigan defensive lineman all fall into that category as well as a number of U-Sports athletes.

Eventhough there may not be any pro days for U-Sports schools for the athletes to showcase themselves to NFL scouts and CFL scouts, all of the best Canadian University players in this year’s Draft class are going to be participating in the CFL combine which like the NFL’s will be virtual. Those who are invited in this year’s CFL combine will all be following the same guidelines as the NFL combine participants and despite there being less U-Sports players in this year’s draft class there truly are some great athletes set to become professionals. Of them all and as you take a good look at some of the U-Sports athletes that may be able to sneak into the NFL as some un-drafted signees like we’ve seen in previous years and last year with the New York Giants receiver, tight end Rysen John out of Simon Fraser, Brown University’s Michael Hoecht from Ontario and Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Carter O’Donnell, some players that could make the jump this year would be Carleton’s Alain Cimankinda, Saskatchewan’s Nelson Lokombo, and Calgary’s Logan Bandy. The three players have been key factors for each of their respective schools and showcased what they could do against some future CFL stars, as for Alain Cimankinda and Lokombo they both demonstrated extreme versatility to play several different positions, Cimankinda at edge but also at outside linebacker or even in the interior and Lokombo being primarily a safety and cornerback but also bringing the versatility to blitz and play the run as a linebacker as well. As for offensive lineman Logan Bandy, he’s been a player that has been talked about a lot by the University of Calgary and talked about highly. With a number of Canadian offensive linemen now being found in the NFL like Laurent Duvernay Tardif, Dakoda Shepley, Carter O’Donnell and Brett Jones, Bandy may be able to join the group and so can fellow U-Sports offensive linemen Bryce Bell and Pier-Olivier Lestage, though Bandy may be the best available.

CFL Scouting Bureau - Five Favourites
Calgary’s Logan Bandy

Bandy, who may be the best offensive lineman available from the U-Sports level is only one of the many talented athletes from Canada and after Cimankinda and Lokombo, there are still some other football players that could make the NFL. They may not all have the best chance to be drafted into the NFL but do not be surprised if Dylan St Pierre, Grant McDonald, Nick Cross and Ben Hladik get opportunities at mini camps south of the border. They each have proven themselves and showcased themselves at the U-Sport stage and after seeing a number of U-Sports players signed to NFL teams following the draft last year, they deserve a look at least. Deserving a look, and potentially even more, Jean-Marc Edmé of the Ottawa Redblacks front office said, “All of those guys are being watched, the stars from U-Sports and some of the NCAA Canadians, their film is being watched throughly and I can see a lot of them getting an invite to mini camp because seeing what Canadians have done at the NFL, Laurent Duvernay Tardif and Anthony Auclair are two examples of it, American scouts are looking at Canadian guys and it will not surprise me if a lot of them get a mini camp invite or get drafted.”

Alain Cimankinda, Carleton University defensive end and 2021 CFL/NFL Draft prospect’s workout at Titan Performance

All in all, looking at the players coming from Canada who are all available going into this year’s NFL Draft, from the NCAA and U-Sports level it is clear that Canadian talent has improved heavily throughout the years and this 2021 class will not be the last one with multiple Canadian athletes going into the NFL. The future of Canadian athletes in football is extremely bright, with Chase Claypool, Nkeal Harry and Neville Gallimore being drafted into the NFL in recent years and now Josh Palmer, Jevon Holland, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Alaric Jackson, Benjamin St Juste and Chuba Hubbard all on the fringe of the NFL now there are some key examples set for younger athletes and coming within the next couple of years there will only be more. When talking about the group of successful athletes in this year’s draft and the big name athletes coming from Canada, Football Canada president Jim Mullin said, “Canadian players having success at all stages, U-Sports, Division one, CFL and the NFL even have a big impact and as a country it helps the game of football grow and helps us get more kids to play football growing up.” he explains, “We can now put guys like Chase Claypool, Gallimore, and John Metchie on posters to help kids visualize themselves at the next level and then you add the CFL in there Andrew Harris is a huge role model for Canadian athletes now that he’s won Most Outstanding Canadian in the Grey Cup.”

Jean-Marc Edmé: l'importance d'ouvrir les portes du sport professionnel à  la diversité | Le matin du Nord
Ottawa REDBLACKS scout Jean Marc Edme

To add to that theory, being able to put somebody on a poster or a t-shirt like a Chase Claypool or a John Metchie that will encourage the younger generation to play football and reach for the highest level of football, Jean-Marc Edmé had mentioned, “Its special for young athletes to see stars from where they are from. They are always looking for that one player that they can look up to and now with guys playing football from Canada at an extremely high level these kids have those players that will grow the game of football in the country.” He also said, “The game is growing a lot but its at where it is because of the grassroots programs we have in Canada, there are a lot of coaches sacrificing time and money to help the athletes and there are a lot of athletes to show that and there will be more in the future too.”

True freshman Akheem Mesidor is off to a strong start at West Virginia -  The Smoking Musket

Among the future athletes to come to these lists for NFL drafts is Alabama’s John Metchie, West Virginia’s Alonzo Addae and Akheem Mesidor, Maine’s Katley Joseph and Deshawn Stevens, Rutgers’ Patrice Rene, Wesley Bailey and Rene Konga, Penn State’s Jonathan Sutherland, Jesse Luketa and Christian Vellieux, and future stars Aaron Armitage and Brendon Barrow of Stanford, Albert Reese of Mississippi State as well as Penn State’s Malick Meiga and Ohio commit Callum Wither. Its well beyond obvious that there is Canadian talent on the rise now and within the next couple of years and the continuous growth of the game with help from the successful athletes and the CFL’s marketing tools it always makes American football fans and people around the world stop sleeping on Canada’s football players.

Chris Hogan, not the only one to go Lacrosse route; Dalton Crossan excited for “awesome opportunity” to play in PLL

Featured image taken by Matthew Perry

Just this past month it had been announced and released by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that NFL receiver Chris Hogan would pursue his Lacrosse career professionally in the Premier Lacrosse League. Hogan, a 32 year old receiver has spent almost 10 years in the NFL really establishing a good career for himself as an alternate receiver for many teams. He landed on rosters with the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers and most recently the New York Jets in the 2020 NFL season, hauling in a total 216 catches over the span of his career for 2,795 yards and 18 touchdowns. It wasn’t a surprise that Hogan decided to pursue a professional lacrosse career when he made the announcement with Schefter at ESPN mostly because of the time he spent around the game growing up and even at University at Penn State, but what may have surprised some people, mostly football fans was that he wasn’t the only one making the jump to the game of Lacrosse. 

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Alongside the two time super bowl champion receiver Chris Hogan, 26 year old running back out of the University of New Hampshire Dalton Crossan has also decided to pursue a professional career in Lacrosse. Crossan, who may not be as well known as Hogan or other players making the switch to Lacrosse moving forward, but he hopes to establish his name into the Premier Lacrosse League very soon. The former running back hasn’t played the game of football since his 2019 pre-season stint with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, before that he played in 44 games in his collegiate career, gaining an all-purpose 5,189 yards at New Hampshire and had two NFL opportunities with both the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately due to injuries that he suffered at all three professional teams he was gifted opportunities with, Crossan decided to leave the game of football. He says, “I love the game of football, I always have. My dream was always to play in the NFL but now where I am today my body doesn’t love the game as much as I do so I felt like I had to step away from football.” 

For Dalton Crossan, it wasn’t that hard to step away from the game of football as it is for some people, simply because he had a plan b in a different sport. After leaving Ottawa in 2019 following a 2019 CFL pre-season campaign which he got injured in, he made the decision to return to the game of Lacrosse, a sport which he loves equally to the game of football. “Both sports have always been very close to me,” Crossan said, “I played Lacrosse a lot growing up, I played at a high level, earning offers from big schools for Lacrosse like Michigan, Notre Dame and even Syracuse so even after pursuing my football career professionally I knew Lacrosse would always be there to fall back on.”

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Falling back onto the game of Lacrosse is something Crossan is extremely excited for, and being picked up off of waivers by the Chaos of the Premier Lacrosse League the whole idea of playing the sport again has become a reality. “I haven’t played in a while,” he told me in an interview, “Its been since high school, probably around 10 years now since I played Lacrosse and I’m not taking this opportunity lightly. I know that I’ll be playing with some of the best Lacrosse players in the world so I’ll have to adapt to the speed of the game but overall I feel very good, I have been working out a lot and doing more Lacrosse training that I’ve ever done so I’m just excited to be playing again.”

Stay tuned to hear more about when the Premier Lacrosse League will kickoff their 2021 season, and be sure to watch both Dalton Crossan and Chris Hogan when you get the chance!

JZ’s Scouting Reports defensive stars from January series, previewing Ottawa’s offensive talent

For the Future (5.1.20): Penn State Lands Their Quarterback, ESPN Updates  Rankings, and New Offers | Roar Lions Roar

In January, to kickstart the number one football platform for all levels in Ottawa, JZ Media wrote a new article for every week day of the month regarding the best defensive players in the nation’s capital. Adding to the mix of CFL and NFL related content already posted on jzmedia.ca as well as lilzbigr.blog, Jordan Zlomislic has been able to cover some of the top recruiting stories in Ottawa over the past couple of months and hopes to continue on that path moving forward. Next up, following write ups on the defensive players highlighted by JZ Media, there will be an article every single weekday from March 15th through March 26th to shine light on ten of the best offensive stars in the city of Ottawa. The list will headline some of the best quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and even maybe an offensive lineman or two. Launching this platform, Jordan Zlomislic hopes to bring that spotlight that has been missing in the city of Ottawa, bringing the city’s sports on top like how every athlete wants it to be and it all starts with the youth because as we all know, the youth is the future but before we can look on to the offensive side of the ball come March 15th we must be up to date with the city’s defensive stars.

Who was written about? 

Defensive backs: Shakespeare Louis, Nathan Casimir, Josh Baka, Etienne Hachokake, Denny Ferdinand

Shakespeare Louis, Robert Morris’ newest defensive superstar, “The Most Complete Defensive Player Out There”

Linebackers: Edwin Tara Kolenge, Maleek Ruseel, Matthew Michael Assivero, Darius Mckenzie, Josh Sowah

Edwin Tara Kolenge’s Top 8 Schools include Syracuse, Howard, Boston College, Nebraska, Indiana, West Virginia, Rutgers and Virginia Tech

Defensive linemen: Eben Dibula, Nate Martey, Elijah St John, Lliam Horrocks

Coach Jean Guillaume with defensive lineman and Bethune Cookman signee Even Dibula

To add to those previously written about from the previous recruiting classes, soon, starting March 15th Jordan Zlomislic and JZ Media will be releasing articles every week day for two weeks on some of the best offensive players from the nation’s capital. Some of these players could be signed by Universities or Colleges for the 2021 fall season or maybe a year or two away from their signing day, but no matter how old the players highlighted are, the main goal is to have their names out there. Often in the city of Ottawa and in the country of Canada in general, talented players who have the ability to play at a high level of football get over looked simply because of their position geographically. It has been an on going problem for years and there have been numerous coaches in the 613 region helping fight the problem, but as much of it falls onto the reputation of the coaches and players a large part of recruiting comes in the media as well. In the United States you see a number of media platforms continuously covering recruiting stories, always putting in a good word for the players in their respective region, though in Canada there is none of that. 

In a country which many believe is a hockey run country, there is very little sports media. No matter what level of sports, whether that be high school, all the way to the CFL, the marketing around Canada’s sports is and has been poor for many years. There is only very few major sports media companies in Canada and for the most part they only cover professional sports, as for the United States where ESPN, the country’s number one sports platform covers everything from high school all the way up to conversations that retired athletes have on podcasts. This is something that has hurt a lot of athletes in the past in recruiting because of the lack of publicity that Canada has in the game of football and even other sports like baseball and basketball, though bringing the youth of Jordan Zlomislic and the knowledge of sports minded people around him JZ Media hopes to be a part of a positive change in Canadain sports, mainly in football. 

Look back at all of JZ Media’s scouting reports on the city of Ottawa’s top defensive players at every position which are all linked to this article and stay tuned to learn about the city’s offensive super stars on the come up as well. Be a part of the change and learn about the future Canadian world-class athletes here at jzmedia.ca 

13 year professional return specialist, running back Stefan Logan to coach Lock Haven University running backs and special teams

Lock Haven University | AstroTurf

Following a 13 year career spent in both the CFL and NFL as a part of the B.C Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, Montreal Alouettes and the Ottawa Redblacks, running back, kickoff return specialist Stefan Logan has kicked off his life after football, most recently coaching the Lock Haven University Bald Eagles.

Logan, while hosting the “Less Talk Football” podcast now is the running backs and special teams coach for the Bald Eagles and having spent 13 years in both the NFL and CFL, gaining over an all-purpose 19,000 yards combined in both leagues he has a lot to share to the younger athletes coming up. Lock Haven is a division two NCAA school in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

When asked about the opportunity, in an interview from February Stefan Logan said, “I’m excited about it. As a professional athlete I learnt so much from so many people, it only makes sense to spread that knowledge to the next generation.”

Number one High School Football player in Canada, Edwin Tara Kolenge announces his Top 8 schools

Un Québécois sur le radar de plusieurs recruteurs du football universitaire  américain | Radio-Canada.ca

Over recent years we have seen an enormous growth in Canada through the game of football. Going into the 2000s very few people had the opportunity to play division one football coming from Canada and now being in a point in time in 2021 where it seems normal for kids to go to the states for school it is truly great to see how far the country and the football community has gotten just recently. As time goes by, it’s likely that we’ll see a continuous growth in the game and we will see more and more athletes pursue their careers south of the border but one thing that sticks out more now than it has in past years is also the fact that the talent is only getting better. The main reason why players are going to the next level more now than before is simply because they are better than the past generations. There are better coaches, better facilities and much better opportunities to be exposed to coaches and scouts from the next level, making everything about today’s generation of football in Canada better than it may have been in the 1990s or early 2000s. A perfect example of that in today’s generation would be Montreal’s Edwin Tara Kolenge.

Kolenge has made a name for himself in Florida as of late, though the Montreal product is a true Canadian athlete. He has watched athletes before him go on to the next level from exactly where he is from, Johari McGregor going to Clearwater Academy International, playing at the U-Sport level and even Christophe Mulumba going to Maine, now being able to call himself a professional with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, and it has shown him exactly what he wants to do when he is older. He has done several trainings in Montreal and even outside in Ottawa and in Ontario to get better coaching from well known Canadian coaches like Ottawa’s Coach Jean Guillaume. From training with well known people like Guillaume and several players that have played at high levels Edwin Tara Kolenge’s name started to spread across the border and he got offers from a 2019 season he played in Montreal. Since then he has played a full season in Florida with the Clearwater Academy International Knights and has racked up dozens of division one football scholarships, now being at the stage of his recruiting process where he has to choose some of the top schools that have offered him thus far so he can continue being recruited by them and schools higher up.

On Friday, February 26th Tara Kolenge released his top 8, going from Syracuse at 8, the University of Nebraska at 7, West Virginia at 6, Howard University at 5, Boston College at 4, Rutgers at 3, Indiana Hoosiers at 2 and Virginia Tech University at number one. When asked why he chose the schools to be on his top eight he simply replied,  “I picked these schools because they are the schools that recruited me the hardest. I met every single of their Head coach and they showed me a lot of love and interest. Also I liked the plan they had for me. They also cared for me as a person.” Truly as an athlete it is nice to know that the school has care for the person that is under all of the football equipment and as for Edwin, he chose the schools on his Top 8 because of that.

Also one thing from Edwin Tara Kolenge that makes him stick out more than other athletes is the fact that he is humble and he wants to achieve more. For some athletes out there, they get the big offers and then stop working because they think they’ve accomplished what they want to but Tara Kolenge isn’t like other athletes. He continues to push him self, setting new goals each year and not letting the recruiting excitement get the best of him. He says, “I’m excited!It’s a dream coming true. I always dreamed to play in the D1 college football, and my hard work paid off. I’ve a bright future and you will hear my name many times.” And as for his goals he commented, “My goal for 2021 as right now just getting better, faster, stronger and flexible. I want to help my team to be undefeated. I just want to be a better version of myself football wise, academically wise and social wise.”

13 year kickoff return specialist/running back Stefan Logan starts up career after football, launches “Less Talk Football” podcast

Stefan Logan, a name known by many football fans from the amazing career he established in the NFL and CFL is also becoming a name known by people across the globe thanks to a podcast he has launched. Podcasts are extremely popular in the world today, whether it is a show you can watch on YouTube or something you can listen to on Spotify people have been starting them right, left and centre. It is a great way to occupy yourself during your free time or even gives you something to listen to and watch in the background during a busy day, podcasts are a great way to learn about several different topics and recently in the sports world we have seen a number of athletes start their own podcasts, in the CFL Natey Adjei and Henoc Muamba started the trend and now continuing it as well as starting his own trend is former NFL and CFL kickoff/punt return specialist and running back Stefan Logan.

Logan spent 13 years in both the NFL and CFL between the B.C Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, Montreal Alouettes and most recently the Ottawa Redblacks, taking on responsibilities as a running back, and receiver but mostly as a return specialist. Over the span of his career he accumulated over 5,000 NFL kickoff return yards and one touchdown as well as almost 12,000 with 2,978 offensive yards and 11 touchdowns in his CFL career, really making his mark in both leagues as a offensive and special teams weapon. Playing until he was 38 years old, finishing his career in 2019 with the Ottawa Redblacks, Stefan Logan has a large platform built for himself on social media and just from word of mouth, a lot of people know Logan for what he was able to accomplish over his career but now starting his own podcast he hopes to be known as more than just an athlete.

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When I interviewed him regarding his podcast and why he started it he stated, “Athletes are known for what they do in their sport but we all have passions out side of sports. I played 13 years of pro football, in the NFL and in the CFL, I had a great career and I showed that I’m good at football but I’m great at other things too and so are other guys that I’ve played with.” Logan also commented, “Some people are surprised when athletes do things outside of sports, that football players can be artists or basketball players can be good with fashion but in reality we are just people and just like the normal person that works a 9-5 we have passions and talents outside of our primary jobs. One of my talents is talking, I like talking with people and telling stories so being able to start a podcast, something that I’ve wanted to do and have thought about for a little while now is awesome and I’m really happy to start it up.”

Stefan Logan-Ottawa RedBlacks Photo; Scott Grant

Among the athletes and teammates that Stefan Logan had over the span of a 13 year career is Nate Burleson. Burleson, like Logan had spent a long time in the NFL from his 2003 draft year to 2014 when he retired following a stint with the Cleveland Browns. In his respective career, Burleson played with the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns, catching 457 passes for a total 5,630 yards and 39 touchdowns while also returning kicks like Logan for 2,809 yards and 4 return touchdowns but what has connected him with Logan after their football careers has been his involvement in the sports media field. Following his playing career, Nate Burleson was able to stay around the game, being on air talking football with NFL Network and CBS, being a well known host on both “Good Morning Football” and “The NFL Today”. His experience on air, talking sports and being on different shows as well, Burleson has been able to help Stefan Logan start his podcast. Stefan Logan explained to me, “Nate has done a lot after his career, I was able to play with him in Detroit and I got to know him there to a point where I still talk to him and seeing what he’s done doing TV and media he was a perfect person to talk to when I had the idea to start something.”

Burleson, not only was a great person to talk to about the idea but also the perfect person to help start the podcast, Logan said, “I told him about the idea and we started thinking more about what I can do and we all know that I like to talk and I bring an energy to every conversation I’m a part of so talking with him and the wife, his wife as well helped us plan something and we came together on starting a podcast. He has been a big help for me starting this and just last week I was able to have him on and talk with me on the podcast which was great.”

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Nate Burleson is now among many people interviewed by Stefan Logan for his podcast which he has named “Less Talk Football” replacing the two Ls in football for the number 11 which he wore in the NFL with the Steelers and Lions, and he says every interview he has done for the podcast has been “very fun”. Stefan Logan had commented, “Its really been great to be able to build this platform. I’m obviously just starting out with it but seeing what it can be, I’m really going to take this serious and make my name known for podcasting and sports media, not just my football playing career.”

His name will be a household name in many places for the likes of his podcast like he was for his 13 year professional career. Watch the latest on Stefan Logan on his social media platforms and stay up to date with his podcast as he continues to do interviews leading up to the big postings of them all on https://prosportsextra.com/

“A good future doesn’t come without a great present” Fan Controlled Football League running back LaDarius Galloway taking advantage of FCFL opportunity

DULUTH, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY 13: LaDarius Galloway #37 of the Beasts misses a pass as James Gales Jr. #47 of the Zappers defends at Infinite Energy Arena on February 13, 2021 in Duluth, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Fan Controlled Football/Getty Images)

Just one week after Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy in Tampa Bay, Florida, capping off the NFL season the Fan Controlled Football League kicked off their inaugural season in Atlanta, Georgia. The new league, not known by many had a very successful opening weekend, having both of their games, back to back on Saturday, February 13th. They reached over 600,000 views in both of their games’ live stream on twitch, giving the players on each of the four teams an opportunity to play in front of thousands of people, mostly fans but scouts and coaches as well from the next level. One of the players that had that opportunity on Saturday and will have the opportunity to play in front of hundreds of thousands of fans and coaches moving forward in the Fan Controlled Football League is running back LaDarius Galloway. When talking about the Fan Controlled Football League and the time he’s spent in the league thus far Galloway mentioned, “Its a great league. I’m thankful for this opportunity to showcase my talents and get another chance at the next level.” He also said, “I’m taking advantage of this opportunity.”

Galloway, one of many players in the new league has had opportunities in other leagues, for Galloway he has been able to talk with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and play for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders but the FCFL still sticks out in many ways. “The people behind the league are what sticks out the most for me,” LaDarius Galloway said, “When we got here (the Atlanta FCFL bubble) Ray Austin (commissioner/former NFL DB) gave us a good welcome and just knowing that it took them almost 7 years to start this league it shows the commitment they have for this league and they really care about the players a part of it.”

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Caring about the players in the league, Ray Austin who was once a player in the same shoes as many of the players in the FCFL, having played in the NFL and XFL has built a platform where the players can be themselves. Behind the fact that the fans of the league are the ones calling the plays and drafting the players, the fans are also exposed to the personalities inside the helmets, and the people that the players in the FCFL really are. The league, hence the name “Fan Controlled Football League” is truly fan oriented and in a professional way, giving players the chance to interact with its fans and Galloway is a fan of the set up that the new league has as he told me, “On the field its like ‘The Yard’ in Madden 21. The players can wear their chosen name on the back of their jersey, the jerseys are all fan customized and the arena that we play in is super cool too but off of the field we are given the opportunity to show our real personality which in other leagues you may get in trouble for.” LaDarius Galloway also added to his thoughts, “I want to play at the highest level possible and being able to build a platform in the Fan Controlled Football League as a person and an athlete is awesome.”

As Galloway and other players look to play in the NFL or CFL in the near future, the players in the Fan Controlled Football League have to make plays now to be able to make plays in the NFL soon, something which LaDarius Galloway is extremely focused on. “A good future doesn’t come without a great present.” he said, “I’m focused on what I’m doing right now in the FCFL but I definitely want to play in the NFL soon.” Galloway, like many of the players in the FCFL deserve to play in the NFL or CFL and in 2019 he actually had the chance in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders. Playing in two pre-season games against both the Saskatchewan Roughriders and BC Lions, LaDarius Galloway was able to make a highlight tape on just 5 offensive touches where he gained over 70 yards on, similar to what he did at the University of Tennessee Martin. In his senior year at UTM Galloway touched the ball 164 times on offence, gaining an all-purpose 788 yards and getting in the end zone 7 times.

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Talking about getting an opportunity, Galloway told me why he should get an opportunity at the highest level, building off of my opinion, “I am a player that you can lean on when you need a big play. Just when you think you’re in doubt and you are in need of something, I can make a big play, whether that is running in a long touchdown or blocking for the quarterback in the backfield I can do it and I want too prove that I can.”

Week one of the Fan Controlled Football League now behind us; who to keep eyes on moving forward

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Over the years there have been a number of football leagues trying to start up and be played as a secondary league to the NFL but with the CFL around and now the XFL as well there will never be another secondary league but with three major leagues, the NFL, CFL and XFL there is still a large pool of talented free agents. The amount of talented football players still on the open market following the seasons of what you may call ‘the big three leagues’ in a normal year is unreal and they deserve an opportunity somewhere to possibly play in one of the bigger leagues. Yes there are arena football leagues and depending where you live there are semi professional football leagues as well but no alternative league outside of the CFL and XFL have ever created as much buzz as the Fan Controlled Football League from just 2 games on a Saturday night.

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The Fan Controlled Football League started up by former NFL and XFL defensive back Ray Austin has been all over social media for the last couple of months, gearing up for their inaugural season and to kickoff one week after the end of the NFL season following the Super Bowl they got a lot of viewers, likely more than they expected. Watching live were over 35,000 people during the second game, tuning into Johnny Manziel and his Zappers but on social media and through SportsCentre there have been hundreds of thousands of people that have seen something related to the Fan Controlled Football League over the last 24 hours. It is great to see the success that the league had publicity wise in their first night where they had their four teams play in two back to back games from 7:30 Eastern all the way until midnight on Twitch but it wasn’t just the league that had success, the players did as well.

In all of the leagues that have started outside of the major ones in the NFL, CFL and XFL each one of them have prioritized their players and them getting an opportunity but a lot of the time, opportunities don’t come, simply because the league doesn’t have a platform to create opportunities for players that want to play at a high level. Changing the look of things in a alternate league and hence the name of the league, the Fan Controlled Football League have prioritized its fans before anything else. Players, coaches and owners in the league all understand that without fans the league is nothing, and with fans the league grows and that is exactly what the people associated with the league, Ray Austin, Patrick Dees, Grant Cohen, and Sohrob Farudi who are at the top of the league have set it up so the fans that support the league not only cheer their respective teams on while the games are on but throughout the week leading up to a game the fans are a part of the front office and coaching staff. Every Wednesday during the season there are live drafts via Twitch where fans of their favourite teams vote on who to be on what team and then on game day fans have the chance to pick the plays for their team’s offence live during the game. Some things that we saw in the first week of the league being around, including the two games played last night was the connection that players may have to fans and the impact in can have. For instance when Johnny Manziel came to the league and had been franchise tagged by the Zappers and Bob Menry a number of people were choosing the Zappers as their team to be a part of and wanted to build around Johnny Manziel for game one. Or another one would be the way Andrew Jamiel has connected with fans through his success on the field and his interactions off of the field on social media. He has proven himself to be a reliable target for quarterbacks at every level of football and has a great personality that fans of the FCF have grown to like, making him a power up player, like an X-Factor in Madden but in real life.

The fans and player interactions have been amazing to see over the span of the last week leading up to last nights games and it is proven that some of the things that happened throughout the week between fans and players may have impacted the games as well, considering the fans do call the plays. They call the plays and given the two great one possession games that the FCF had last night the fans were calling the right plays, here is a list on who sticked out in last night’s games and some players that, if they continue to play like they did last night could just land themselves a contract at the next level whether that is the CFL or NFL.

Andrew Jamiel

Andrew Jamiel has been a stud since day one of the Fan Controlled Football League. He was featured on Donald De La Haye aka Deestroying‘s YouTube video when the news about the league first came out and fans have loved him ever since. He has been active on social media, building his reputation off of the field and last night he matched what he’s done off of the field with what he can do on it. As a power up player for the Glacier Boyz last night Jamiel caught a few passes but what really stuck out on his end was the two touchdowns he hauled in, one from David Pindell and the other from Deondre Francois. The two touchdowns helped the Glacier Boyz stay in the game last night, they weren’t enough to win the game but moving forward Jamiel will be able to win some games with other teams that he may be drafted to and even at the next level following the season.

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Checkout two articles of mine that feature Andrew Jamiel in them using the links provided, learn more about him and the Fan Controlled Football League: https://jzmedia.ca/2021/01/02/seeking-an-opportunity-reliable-receiver-andrew-jamiel-looks-to-create-a-spark-in-new-fan-controlled-football-league/

https://jzmedia.ca/2021/02/01/less-than-two-weeks-until-kickoff-the-fan-controlled-football-league-creates-a-buzz-on-social-media-we-need-leagues-like-this/

Quinton Flowers

Of all the performances in last night’s Fan Controlled Football League games, the most impressive would have to be Quinton Flowers. Flowers, playing against Johnny Manziel was given a big stage to play on. The buzz around the league thus far has been Johnny Football and Bob Menry‘s Zappers but beating the Zappers and putting up 48 points against them Flowers silenced the Zappers fans and made it clear that he can still sling it at the professional stage. It may not be a big league, though the talent he is going against are professional athletes just like himself, some have even had shots at the NFL, CFL or XFL. Flowers, before coming to the FCF has had opportunities in the NFL and XFL following his tremendous career at the University of South Florida. At South Florida he led the Bulls offence to two Birmingham Bowl Championship games, in both 2016 and 2017. They won both games, Flowers winning MVP in them both as well, his best year coming in 2016 where he threw for 2,812 yards and 24 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,530 yards and 18 scores. The numbers put up in 2016 and the similar ones in 2017 added to his totals where he now owns records at the school for career rushing, passing and total touchdowns in his collegiate career of three starting seasons.

Last night in one of his biggest moments in his football career post-university Flowers stood out and proved himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the Fan Controlled Football League. He showcased his arm as well as his legs which he used a combination of during his University days and even at the professional level with the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers. He made some big plays last night as well, beating Manziel’s Zappers 48-44, scoring touchdown after touchdown with his Beasts and whichever team takes him next week will be getting a hot quarterback ready for an opportunity at the next level.

Flowers’ rights as of 2018 are owned by the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers if he ever decides to come to Canada.

LaDarius Galloway

In the Fan Controlled Football League, with fans calling the plays there is more pass plays called than run plays, making the receivers the biggest factor in the games played, though last night in both games fans were able to notice the spark that a big run can give an offence. Among the running backs in the FCF and one that made an impact last night for the Beasts was LaDarius Galloway of University of Tennessee Martin. The 23 year old back out of UTM showed electric speed in last night’s game against the Zappers, helping establish the run game alongside dual threat quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Calen Campbell. Galloway is yet to have an NFL opportunity but in every opportunity he’s had, whether that was at the University level or even at the professional stage with the Calgary Stampeders in 2019 for the CFL pre-season he has showed off everything that he can do in the run game and in the pass game.

At Tennessee Martin University he played one season in 2018 where he gained a total 788 yards and scored 7 touchdowns on a combined 164 offensive touches and although it didn’t lead him to an opportunity in the NFL he was able to play two pre-season games with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and BC Lions where he showcased his speed every time he touched the ball, making a highlight tape off of just 5 plays where he gained just under 70 yards on the ground and through the air.

In his Fan Controlled Football League debut last night Galloway wasn’t able to get the 20 plus carries that some running backs would be used to in the NFL or CFL but with the occasional rush and catch out of the backfield he was really able to showcase what kind of player he is. Watch out for LaDarius Galloway moving forward in the FCF!

Best of the rest: QBs Jackson Edermann, David Pindell, and TJ Edwards Running backs Anthony Jones, Calen Campbell, receivers Treydonte Hill, KaVontae Turpin and defensive back Marquill Osborne