“It means the world to me.” Redblacks’ RJ Harris on helping the next generation of athletes

In 2015 R.J Harris became a professional athlete. The 6-foot, 195 pound Maryland raised receiver had a tremendous collegiate career at University of New Hampshire, racking up over 5,000 all purpose yards and 40 touchdowns in 49 games played, including 1,551 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns as a senior in 2014 which gathered a lot of interest of NFL teams. He ended up latching onto a roster spot with the New Orleans Saints out of University in 2015 and came back in 2016 after a stint with the Atlanta Falcons as well. Unfortunately neither of those teams had Harris in their long term plans, but one team that did was the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks. After originally being signed by the Toronto Argonauts in Canada, then both the B.C Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Ottawa Redblacks were able to see what R.J Harris could do for them in 2017. He ended up having quite the success out of the gate, playing alongside CFL all-stars Diontae Spencer, Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson at receiver, Harris caught 49 passes for 697 yards and two scores as a rookie and continued to have a similar role with the organization for the 2019 and 2021 CFL seasons as well. Going into what will be his fourth season in the CFL, Harris has over 2,000 yards receiving to his name in 44 regular season games, and is in for a big year on the field with the Ottawa Redblacks, but 2022 is not only going to go down as a big year on the field for Harris.

Off of the football field, R.J Harris has become a father of three, two girls and one boy with his fiance, and has established a name for himself as a coach and personal trainer in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. In his hometown he has been able to put on training sessions and privately train young football players. It is something that he has been wanting to do for some time now, and has finally been able to get to it over the past couple of years. “I’ve always been around the game in the offseason,” he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “in college I was involved, and I always try and find a small group of kids to work with and pass knowledge on. I know when I was younger I always took it as a big deal to be around the guys at the next level so I wanted to be that and more. I give these kids an opportunity, they can pick my brain and its even more than just football, grades and stuff outside of football is very important as well and I try and make that known. Being a pillar on and off the field is something I hope to be for a lot of kids coming up.”

These training sessions that he holds began in 2020, and he was originally going to have a big football camp in April of 2020 where a number of his teammates and close friends from football would help coach a large group of young athletes and hold an event for people to gather for. Unfortunately due to the coronavirus pandemic Harris wasn’t able to hold the event, but it didn’t take long for him to get into coaching anyways. He started RJ Harris Skill Development where he began to play the role of a coach in a number of young athletes’ lives, and eventually grew his trainings to be more and more. Talking about the opportunity to coach the next generation of athletes, Harris said, “It means the world, the kids nowadays are the future. They are going to be taking over. I want them to know what to expect. I didn’t have a true mentor that guided me, and it made my past a bit more difficult, and I want to be able to be that mentor for some kids and prepare them for some things that they will come across so they come up on top. 

Recently, Harris was able to take a group of kids he coaches on a University visit to Georgetown University.

When asked about having the chance to do something like that, which can ultimately change a young athlete’s life, R.J Harris said to Jordan Zlomislic, “Exposure equals expansion, getting them out before high school, a lot of them are younger, they’re in middle school and if I can show them the opportunities younger, it lights a fire in them to work more. Give them that exposure, and then put it in their head of what is possible, and show them how to get there on and off the field. They were in awh at these visits and it was truly awesome to see. I want to help them on and off of the football field and these are all opportunities to showcase what is possible, playing and even off of the football field around the game.

R.J Harris will be continuing his coaching whenever he gets the chance to. During his off-seasons he looks to capitalize on each and every opportunity he has, and what he does, with his intentions of helping athletes, will only grow bigger and bigger.

“I feel the best I’ve ever felt.” CFL Draft prospect Jonathan Edouard trains with Ryan Clark’s DB Precision

This year’s CFL Draft seems to be filled with great Canadian talent. It is truly a testament to the growth in football across the country, and most importantly the growth of talent, coaching and interest in football in Canada. Two sets of brothers in both Tre and Tyrell Ford as well as Tyson and Jalen Philpot, alongside players like Deionte Knight, Tyrell Richards, Enock Makonzo, Daniel Adeboboye, Samuel Emilus, Zack Pelehos and Noah Zerr demonstrate the talent found in this year’s CFL Draft extremely well, and it goes on top of John Metchie, Jesse Luketa, Luiji Vilain and Patrice Rene that make their ways to the NFL from Canada as well. One player often forgotten in talks around the 2022 CFL Draft though would have to be American defensive back Jonathan Edouard.

Now people may look at that sentence and question whether or not he should even be in the draft. The CFL Draft is typically for Canadians only. When you take a glance at the draft prospects this year, the vast majority were born and raised in Canada and played University in Canada. Jonathan Edouard on the other hand was born and raised in Orlando, Florida in the United States. The reason why he is in the 2022 CFL Draft is because he has played a part of his University career at Carleton University in Ottawa, and has really shown out in each and every opportunity possible with the Ravens.

Edouard played the role of a lockdown corner and a special teams demon over his career at Carleton following the time he spent at Henderson State University at the division two level. He impressed a number of individuals over that time, and has had his eyes on the CFL since he came to Canada. When he came to Ottawa, first attending Carleton University and playing for the Ravens, he knew he was a trailblazer. The first of his kind, and hopefully the first of many Americans that choose to play University football in Canada for a better education and a path to the CFL. When talking about the CFL Regional Combine which he attended in March in Quebec he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “I didn’t get the numbers I would have liked to get, but what I did get was an experience of a lifetime.” explaining, “It was dreams to reality for me being at the CFL Combine. I’m an American, I did not grow up in Canada, I have no family there, and I came there with no friends, I’m a guy from Orlando, Florida at the CFL Combine, I’m a trailblazer. The first to do it. It felt great to be there after having my eyes on this opportunity when I got there.” Edouard’s final numbers at the regional combine included a 40 yard dash time of 4.58, 36.50 vertical jump, 6.82 3 cone time and a 4.30 shuttle time. Right out of the gate that day though, weighing in at just 161 pounds, a lot seemed off with Edouard.

As a player that plays physical and has weighed in much higher than that before, it didn’t seem right when Edouard weighed in at just 161 pounds, and it would give you the question whether or not he was 100% at the Combine.

He was 100% healthy. Nothing was wrong with him from the injury point of view, but while in Ottawa he was struggling to eat right and workout consistently like he once did. He wasn’t on schedule preparing for the Combine which set himself off from weighing in well and performing to his highest potential, but with all eyes now on CFL training camp he has fixed his situation. Right after finishing the CFL Combine in March, Jonathan Edouard jumped on a plane to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he is now training with former NFL defensive back Ryan Clark with his DB Precision at Traction Sports. “Its amazing,” Edouard said about the opportunity he has in front of him, “I’ve known Ryan Clark for five years. He’s a friend of mine. He’s big bro, a mentor. I’ve come to train here a couple of times, and it’s awesome to be able to have the opportunity to train at his facility and soak up game from him and the other guys around me.”

Training with Edouard at the Traction Sports facility in Baton Rouge are a number of NFL defensive backs including NFL safety Landon Collins who he has built a good relationship with now, even staying at his house while training.

While training there, he has put on over 13 pounds of muscle, and claims to feel the best he’s ever felt in his life. He said, “I feel great.” in depth, “In the past when I’ve come here to train I have worked too hard and usually came out hurting somewhere. I’m now a few weeks into the training and I feel great everywhere. I feel the fastest I’ve ever felt. I am stronger than ever, and most importantly I feel like I’m ready to ball out.”

The NFL Draft is this weekend, and at 26 years old Jonathan Edouard may be a long shot to be drafted or sign an undrafted contract into the league, but he feels like he can play at that level. Training with some of the best defensive backs in the NFL as well, and looking up to par with them, there’s no saying he wouldn’t be a good pickup by an NFL team, and there should be no questions asked in CFL buildings on CFL Draft night next Tuesday. Edouard is a stud, and he has worked hard every single step of the way, he will continue to work hard and prove his worth at the next level as well.

“This is where we are supposed to be.” Patrice Rene and Luiji Vilain of Ottawa take next step to the NFL

Since they were in middle school they have been working hard to get to this point in their football careers and most importantly their lives. Now, Ottawa-raised football players Patrice Rene and Luiji Vilain get the chance to hear their names called into the NFL this week. Many people ask both of them what it feels like to be in this situation but ultimately Rene says, “This is where we are supposed to be.” during a workout prior to the 2022 NFL Draft which kicks off this Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada, Rene told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “This is the next step of the process.” in detail, “this is what we’ve been working for for so long. People think ‘how does it feel’ well it feels crazy but really its meant to be. This is where we are supposed to be. This is what we worked hard for to do, it is just the next step of the process. We started here (Gridiron Academy) went to high school, from high school we went to college and from college we are going to the league. It’s all written.”

Rene, after first attending St. Peter’s Catholic High School in Orleans for high school and playing there as well as the East Ottawa Generals, Orleans Bengals and the Gridiron Academy 7 on 7 teams went to high school in Alexandria, Virginia at Episcopal School. Following in his footsteps one year later was Luiji Vilain who played North Gloucester Giants and Cumberland Panthers for club ball while attending Lester B Pearson High School in Ottawa and training with Gridiron Academy. The move to the United States for high school was a good move and will go down as “the best decision” made by Patrice Rene as it gathered a lot of interest for the two of them, and others to play at the post secondary level, and more specifically the power 5 level.

For University the two started their careers at Michigan (Luiji Vilain) and North Carolina (Patrice Rene). Out of the gate Rene starred as a defensive back for the Tarheels. Playing as a true freshman and having success early on it looked like it could have been an easy road to the NFL from the University of North Carolina, but things took a turn in 2019 when he tore his ACL, sidelining him for a full season. Just as he got back to 100% and could play once again the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans for his football career. With facilities shut down and a shortened 2020 season nothing seemed normal for Rene’s recovery and return to the football field which then took him to the 2021 season that he spent with the Rutgers Scarlett Knights. Using his last year of eligibility in the NCAA he was able to appear in 5 games and made a total 8 tackles for the Scarlett Knights. The numbers may not be flashy, but showing glimpses of greatness each and every time he stepped on the field throughout the season, and continuing to prove himself, he solidified his spot in the NFL Draft and could be looked at as a late draft pick on Saturday for a team in need of a lock down cornerback.

As for Luiji Vilain, he has a similar story coming out of Ottawa. When Rene talked about being in the NFL Draft he chimed in on the conversation saying, “Ever since we started working out with Vic from Gridiron Academy we knew we were going to be here, its just a matter of keep working.”

Out of high school Vilain was a highly recruited 4-star defensive end. He had 30 plus college offers and it seemed as if every school in the country wanted their hands on him, including the Alabama Crimson Tide. He ended up committing to the Michigan Wolverines, where he would spend the next four years. Over his time as a Wolverine he was able to play alongside a number of great players, and really learn from some of the best in football, but unfortunately he did not see a lot of time on the field. Fighting injuries and playing behind two highly touted NFL Draft prospects Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye he was only able to play in 12 games at Michigan, making 11 total tackles, one sack and forced one fumble. Like Rene, the numbers were not flashy, but Vilain kept working and gathered a lot of interest once he hit the transfer portal last year. He found a new home with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and did not look back when he landed. Vilain made a total 10 sacks on the year as a grad transfer and shook the entire ACC, even having two sacks on Kenny Pickett in the ACC Championship game.

It took time for Vilain to shine, but the 2021 season spent with the Demon Deacons proved that all good things come with time. The time is now for Vilain and Rene.

Watch a workout video and vlog filmed by JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic of both Patrice Rene and Luiji Vilain as they prepare to be NFL players in a YouTube video above, and hear them talk about their journey, as well as the position they are in today as NFL Draft prospects from Ottawa.

The talent from Ottawa is only getting better. With Patrice Rene, Luiji Vilain, and Jesse Luketa solidifying their spots in this year’s NFL Draft, and Katley Joseph, J.P Cimankinda and Deionte Knight making their ways to the CFL in the CFL Draft on May 3rd, the proof is in the pudding.

Ottawa’s Katley Joseph takes next steps to become a professional football player

On April 4th, Ottawa born and raised defensive back Katley Joseph made a trip down to Maine University for the first time since he had torn his meniscus in August of 2021. The purpose of the trip was to showcase his talents to professional teams from the NFL, CFL, XFL and USFL at the Maine University Pro Day as he is back healthy, and better than ever, taking his next steps to become a professional football player.

He was among three Canadians taking part in the Black Bears’ Pro Day this year, being alongside both Shaquille St Lot and Deshawn Stevens. For Joseph, the Pro Day wasn’t all that flashy. His name didn’t break headlines for running a record breaking 40 yard dash, or for jumping out of the gym, but he did put himself on the map. After taking part in the 2022 Maine University Pro Day, performing in front of professional scouts, his name is now known across every single building in the professional football world.

Joseph has worked his entire life to get to this point, and is focused on one thing, and one thing only right now; playing football.

The Pro Day, and all of these off-season activities look cool on TV and it is a great way to get exposure if you perform well at them, however one thing that these activities are not, is football. Joseph has been sidelined the past two seasons at Maine, so when he hits a field for the first time as a professional athlete in May, it will also be the first time that he plays in a game since 2019. In 2020 he opted out of the COVID-19 filled NCAA season, and in 2021 he suffered a torn meniscus which took him out of contention for the Black Bears. Graduating from University on May 8th, Joseph briefly considered going back for the eligibility he has left in University, but at 23 years old he is ready to be a professional athlete now.

On the football side of things, he performed extremely well in the few defensive back specific drills at the Maine University Pro Day, and it all goes to show what he’s been working in since he last hit the field back in 2019. Having worked hard each and every day for the last two years and more to be not only the best defensive back of his abilities, but to be the best man possible off of the football field as well, Joseph is ready to prove what he can do on and off of the field as a professional football player.

Right now he is looked at to be a sleeper in the 2022 CFL Draft, but those that know Joseph and have watched him play before know that he is a first round talent, and could beat out all of the other defensive backs in this year’s Draft. He was a true freshman All-American in 2018, and put everything he did as a freshman on repeat for his sophomore campaign. If he had played the last two years, he may be looked at as an NFL Draft prospect alongside fellow Black Bear Andre Miller.

From the outside looking in, the journey Joseph has taken to get to this point in his football career may seem different, dating back to his time at St Matthew’s Catholic High School in Ottawa to right now. But that is because it is different, and each and every difference he has overcome has only made him better in football and outside of it.

Psychletes hold first event in San Diego, California “It was amazing”

On April 3rd at Helix High School in San Diego, California West Virginia punter Tyler Sumpter and Idaho wide receiver Mekhi Stevenson held their first event for their company, Psychletes. It was a football camp on paper, and a number of young football players were there putting in some work on the football field, but at the end of the day, this event will go down as a life changing retreat for many young individuals. The camp consisted of positional football drills for quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, defensive backs and specialists, 1 on 1 battles and a 7 on 7 competition, but where the camp made its biggest impact, and will bring athletes back to Sumpter and Stevenson’s company for the future was the connection period at the end. Sponsor of the camp, Chris Bailey of FanView said, “It was amazing.” explaining the situation, “you saw all of the kids play football, they were doing drills and stuff, it was like you were at a football practice, but at the end of all of the football stuff, they gathered in a circle and were able to talk about themselves as people and not just football players. Katie, who was there as a sports psychologist, asked all of the kids what they are interested in outside of football, and everyone raised their hands, a lot of them mentioned arts, like theater, and singing, music. It was nice to see that, and see the kids have an opportunity to talk, and be appreciated for more than just football.”

Bailey’s takeaways from the first Psychletes perfectly represent why Tyler Sumpter started Psychletes and is a true testament as to why it will become a successful platform in the future. The name of the platform, “Psychletes” was created with the words “psychology” and “athletes” with the goal of showing that athletes are more than just athletes. Just because they play sports, and are great at sports, doesn’t mean they don’t do anything else, or that they aren’t great at other things. Psychletes will be the platform for growth for athletes, where athletes can come and not only grow their name, image and likenesses in their respective sports but show that they are more just an athlete and put a spotlight on some of their skills outside of their sports. The first two psychletes, and the founders of psychletes are perfect examples of people that will grow with the platform. Tyler Sumpter graduated from Troy University in Psychology, and has learnt a lot about people, and the human mind as a whole while playing football at a high level, playing division one football and making a name for himself as a creative mind off of the field with his content as a videographer and video editor. Similar to Sumpter, Mekhi Stevenson also has found his niche in the content industry, having launched “Overly Competitive Productions” in San Diego while also being an artistic mind in music, and creative director playing wide receiver at both UNLV and Idaho. 

Psychletes has been created with a purpose, and it will be successful. The proof is in the results of their first event, which both Sumpter and Stevenson are extremely happy about. It may not have been on the same levels as a Nike Open, or a Rivals camp, but for their first event, the Psychletes camp in San Diego on April 3rd left a positive impact like it was meant to, and it opened doors for a lot of athletes. “It was fun,” Sumpter told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “it was a bad day in San Diego, the sun wasn’t out, but we made it a good day.” Mekhi Stevenson explained, “It was the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. Usually when you go to camps and stuff you see college scouts, and a lot of coaches recruiting and stuff but ours was different. You had the football drills, and it was a football camp, but it was also a retreat. Instead of college scouts recruiting for new talent, there were actually companies there scouting kids to be a part of their companies.” He talked more about the event, “The main goal of it was to have kids understand psychletes, to understand what we are about, and to be a part of it long term. We did a lot of different things at this one, but the ones that we will do in the future will be bigger. We are just getting started. We want to help the kids and we’re going to change the game. Kids at this camp, some didn’t even have a college offer yet, but came away with a brand endorsement deal.”

West Virginia Punter Tyler Sumpter launches company: Psychletes, “It will be the most impactful company in sports”

– JZ MEDIA

The first event for Psychletes was a success. Sumpter and Stevenson are well on their way to build a big company and a full blown platform for athletes of all levels. What will have a big impact on the growth of psychletes and the vision moving forward though will be their next events. Some would say that you have to start with a bang to be successful, or to have a bright future, but really it is about patience. Psychletes’ first event was about starting. About getting the vision across and to have room to grow, and expand. What they will be doing in the future though, there will be no room to grow. It will be perfect. Stevenson talked about the plans for future Psychletes events, “Psychletes is a one stop shop for athletes, so that’s what we’re going to make the camps, and they’re going to be retreats, not just camps. You’ll have two or three days worth of things, from concerts, to mental health seminars, brand development opportunities to the opportunity to meet with pros of all different kinds of fields to the football camp itself, it’ll be game changing.” Sumpter adds his excitement to the future of Psychletes, “I want it to be hype, but also helpful. There are alot of different camps and stuff that generate hype for all these guys to go to, but they don’t really benefit from being there. These Psychletes events are going to do that.” 

After the very first Psychletes event, not only did the founders and partners of the platform come out successful, but so did some of the first campers. The football players that attended the first Psychletes came out having a great time, and excited for more. 3 star 2023 receiver out of Santa Fe Christian, Zack Marshall had an amazing time at the camp, he told Jordan Zlomislic, “It was a blast.” and explained, “it brought all of us together again, and we’re a very tight knit group so it is always great to see everyone and compete, but it also went in deeper than just competing on the field which made it that much better of a day.”  A friend of Marshall’s and a quarterback from Granite Hills High School Parlan “Hollywood” Sanders was able to explain and elaborate more on what made the camp an enjoyable experience for him as well, “it opened my eyes to opportunities outside of football too.” he said, “at the end of the camp and once we finished the football drills and one on ones we were able to talk to eachother and talk about mental health a little bit which was good but also just the conversation that football is not our entire life, and that there is more to us than just football was great.” At the camp, some players even got to get their hands on opportunities outside of football. With companies like Grind Gear, Just Cash and Fan View in attendance, players actually were able to get a real brand endorsement at this very first Psychletes event. Jackson Daniels is among the players that came out with a deal. “I’ve never been in that position before,” is what he said about it, “it felt good. Like Parlan said, it opened my eyes to the possibility of more things like this, because now I know I can do a lot more than just play football.” 

Daniels’ teammate at Helix School, fellow receiver Randy Evans Jr added some final words regarding the event and the future of Psychletes which he and everyone affiliated with Psychletes is extremely excited for. “The camp was great. It was competitive, alive, and it brought out more than just our skills on the field but our personalities and interests too.” Evans Jr capped off the interview, “talking about myself outside of football was a very cool part of the event, and knowing the plans that they have with it, I’m excited for the next event, and the next opportunities I can have with Psychletes.” 

Psychletes has an extremely bright future, and with plans of changing the game in so many levels and ways for athletes, it can only get the sports world excited for what’s to come. With plans of doing more events and creating a virtual platform for athletes, all I can say as a part of the Psychletes family with JZ Media is stay tuned, and get your popcorn ready. It’s about to be a movie. 

Ottawa Redblacks fan favourite defensive back Sherrod Baltimore announces first ever “Sherrod Baltimore Family & Friends Day”

On May 8th Sherrod Baltimore will have his first ever “Sherrod Baltimore Family and Friends Day” at TD Place in Ottawa. After spending the past 5 years in Ottawa, playing with the CFL’s Redblacks since 2017 Baltimore has established a big name for himself in the city, and around the the entire country of Canada really. Not only as a star defensive back, making a number of plays on the field but as a super star human being, playing a large role in the city of Ottawa as a mentor to young athletes, and an overall face of the franchise for the Ottawa Redblacks.

He has already done so much in the community, and has taken part in a number of events around the nation’s capital, now he’s creating an event of his own to give back in his own way as well.

The event, on May 8th will be a football camp for kids from age 6 through 18 where young athletes will be able to get coached up by a number of Ottawa Redblacks players and friends of Baltimore. It will be a great football opportunity for the kids at the camp, but also a perfect opportunity off of the football field, being able to get mentorship and learn from Baltimore and other Redblacks players.

Registration is open now, and can be done by clicking the image below:

Ottawa Redblacks add two American defensive backs to secondary

After going 3-15 in 2019 and 3-11 in 2021, the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks have used the past few months to re-build the roster and improve for the upcoming 2022 CFL season. Beginning with the hiring of general manager Shawn Burke, and signings of key players Jeremiah Masoli, Kwaku Boateng, Darvin Adams, William Powell, Ucambre Williams as well as others, the Ottawa Redblacks already look better on paper, and are only continuing to improve.

This week, adding to their roster, the Ottawa Redblacks signed American defensive backs Marloshawn Franklin Jr, and Vince Calhoun. Franklin Jr, a Detroit, Michigan native played his collegiate career at both Mesa Community College and University of California. In 22 games with the California Golden Bears he made a total 60 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, one sack and nine pass breakups. The now 25 year old has spent time in the CFL already with the B.C Lions and has also been in the fan controlled football league as well as the European League of Football. He is also a creative director for his company called Relentless Sacrifices and the owner of Consult with Relentless. As a football player, and a business man Marloshawn Franklin Jr will come to Ottawa with an opportunity to crack a roster spot, and potentially make an impact in an already stacked defensive backfield filled with Sherrod Baltimore, Abdul Kanneh, Randall Evans, Money Hunter, Patrick Levels, Trumaine Washington and Justin Howell.

As for defensive back Vincent Calhoun, the Eastern Michigan University product made a major impact in each of his 4 seasons with the Eagles, having made 341 total tackles over his career there alongside 11 pass breakups, 7 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 3 sacks. After going undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft and going the past two years without a substantial opportunity, Calhoun will look to make his way onto the Redblacks roster in 2022.

These signings of these two defensive backs is just a small chunk of what the Redblacks have been able to accomplish thus far this off-season, and should make all of R-Nation excited for what is to come.

Athletic Excellence Meets Digital Innovation: Malcom Lee’s Showtime NFT set to make impact in sports

NFTs are an interesting topic. It is a popular one right now because of how much money has been involved with it, but it is still a questionable topic as well. Not everyone is educated on it, and it is hard for many to completely understand, and that is a main reason as to why you have yet to see athletes join the NFT space. There simply aren’t a lot of athletes already in the space, at least from the outsiders perspective, to be able to help more athletes succeed in it. 

An in depth look at Showtime NFT on Twitter

With that being said though, there are going to be a number of CFL players entering the NFT space very soon, and ready to succeed in the space, all thanks to Calgary Stampeders’ defensive back Malcom Lee’s start-up, Showtime NFT. Showtime NFT is an NFT community started by athletes (Malcom Lee), for athletes. He plans on using the platform to the advantage of athletes, and to help those around him win off the field, but this didn’t all just happen overnight for him to figure out this concept. “I got into NFTs and Crypto two years ago. I didn’t know much about it.” he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “It was during the pandemic, and one of my friends knew about it and was into it so I bought an NFT, I thought it was cool and I liked the interaction idea to it and how it can grow in value and I looked at it as a way we can grow our brands as athletes.”

Lee mentioned that NFTs can be a “power shift” for athletes, and more specifically the CFL, the league he plays in with the Calgary Stampeders. 

After growing up in British Columbia, going to school in Burnaby at St Thomas More and being put into football by his father Orville Lee who starred in the CFL with the Ottawa Rough Riders, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger Cats, Malcom Lee went on to play at the University of Nevada before transferring to the University of British Columbia where he made a name for himself as a defensive back. He was drafted in the 2019 CFL Draft by Calgary at 46th overall, but only reported to the team in August of 2021 after he played across the border, pursuing his NFL dreams. 

He’s been on a number of different football teams and in a number of different locker rooms with a lot of teammates. Last season in 2021 was the first time he was able to talk to his teammates about NFTs and Crypto Currencies. It was easy for him to talk about it because of the passion he has for the topic, but not everyone understood the concept like him. “It was tough,” Lee said, “only a few guys really understood it all, but it was cool to converse with them and talk with my teammates about the industry. I saw a lot of potential in more athletes being a part of the NFT community, and I want to see more athletes in the NFT space. It can be very beneficial on so many levels.”

After talking with teammates last season about NFTs and the whole concept behind them and other forms of crypto currencies, Malcom Lee launched “Showtime NFT” which is a platform where athletic excellence meets digital innovation. The idea came up when he realized that the majority of athletes are unaware of the topic, and the impact NFTs can have on their career. Showtime NFT is to raise awareness around the fact that NFTs can be a major part in athletes’ brands and can only grow moving into the future. Through his platform he will help athletes get the introduction they need to the NFT space and get started with NFTs, creating, selling and buying them. As mentioned, he sees this being a big part in the future of athletics, and it can definitely help the growth of the CFL, the league that Lee plays in. 

“It goes deeper than just the NFTs.” he explains, “An NFT creates a community. It expands a brand. And athletes are a brand, and they have fan bases which can be built bigger, and better through selling an NFT. It allows fans to directly communicate with them, and get exclusive opportunities that only are given to people who buy the NFTs. It can be a big part in branding and marketing football players and other athletes. We do it already with physical football trading cards. The NFTs are similar to that, but allow for more personal connections, strengthening the relationship between fans and players.”

Showtime NFT has been online for a few months now, since late 2021, and is bound to grow bigger with a number of athletes already involved and in the process of getting into the NFT space. One thing that Lee, and his platform, Showtime NFT gives the voice back to the athletes. Allowing the athletes to tell their stories and connect with their fans in a genuine and authentic way. JZ Media’s vision of telling athletes stories, and being the media source for the athlete has so much synergy, and gives the opportunity for Showtime NFT athletes to work with JZ Media to tell their story, while they build their brands through their NFTs and more. 

It’s showtime.

West Virginia Punter Tyler Sumpter launches company: Psychletes, “It will be the most impactful company in sports”

In 2021 Tyler Sumpter was in his second season at his dream school, West Virginia University. After spending four years at Troy University, punting and kicking, the opportunity came up to be a Mountaineer. Sumpter played the 2020 and 2021 seasons with West Virginia University where he played in 21 total games and mainly punted for the team. During the 2021 season at West Virginia though, he didn’t limit himself to just punting.. At West Virginia, Sumpter explored his love for videography and content creation. He filmed training sessions and created highlight videos for his teammates during the 2021 season at West Virginia and opened doors for himself off the football field. Now, in 2022 he is ready to launch what could be the biggest company in sports with “Psychletes”. 

Psychletes will be “the platform for growth” and a go to platform for all athletes when it comes to building their personal brands. The company will offer all kinds of services for athletes to grow their names, images and likeness in the public eye while also helping athletes explore their interests outside of sports and prepare for life. Another large focus of Psychletes, and Tyler Sumpter comes in the mental side of sports. Not only does he want to create a platform where athletes can grow as brands and people, but Sumpter also has the goal of creating a platform where athletes can come together and talk about their mental health.  

Sump Did It; West Virginia punter Tyler Sumpter is making a name for himself beyond the football field – JZ MEDIA

The name of the company, “Psychletes” comes from a combination of the word’s “psychology” and “athletes.” As a Psychology graduate of Troy University, an athlete himself, and someone very instilled into the sports community, Tyler Sumpter is set to do something with Psychletes that has never been done by anyone else in sports. 

“I see it being a one-of-a-kind company. It will really be a one stop shop for athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, business owners, and anyone else.” he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic who will be telling stories and creating content for Psychletes, “If an athlete wants a highlight tape, we can make it. If they want an edit, we can do it. They want to do a photoshoot; we can do it. If someone wants to do a training video, we can do it. Heck, if they want to start their own company and need a logo, a website, merch, a podcast, even a documentary or a short movie, Psychletes can do it and that is what makes it so big. There is really no limit as to how big we can do this, really because we are going to do anything and everything for athletes to grow their brands on and off the field. It has never been done before. There is no example, or blueprint to follow. I can say we are going to be like Barstool Sports, or the Gary Vee of athletes and sports, but I see it being so much more than that, I don’t want to limit what we’re about to do.” 

With experience in the videography and content creation field, Sumpter’s focus on building athlete’s brands comes through content, and media, however the vision of Psychletes goes past just content. As he mentioned, he looks for Psychletes to be a go to company and platform for athletes to grow, learn and get work done.  

 It will be a company that will bring the best out of all athletes, from all sports and from all levels of their sport. From high school basketball players to Olympic gold medalist swimmers, Psychletes will be the place for all athletes to grow and connect as one community. The goal is to help athletes, and since this has never been done before, in this fashion, the future of Psychletes is unknown, but it is unknown for the good. With the right people on board, and the right mindsets, Psychletes can very well be the biggest company in sports soon.  

The thing is though, the right people are on board and the right mindsets are there with Psychletes, so it is no longer “it can be big,” it is more of “it will be big.” A part of Psychletes, alongside Tyler Sumpter will be Mekhi Stevenson, an NCAA football player like Sumpter.  

On the football field, Stevenson is a wide receiver at the University of Idaho, and former UNLV Rebel originally from San Diego, California. Over the span of his career, the 6-foot, 189-pound wideout has caught 81 passes for 933 yards and seven scores over 46 games with Idaho and UNLV, but off the football field he has established a name for himself as a videographer, director, company owner and all-around creative genius. Both Mekhi Stevenson and Tyler Sumpter met through a mutual friend, knowing that they had similar skill sets and that they had similar backgrounds, being football players in the content creating industry, but they did not know that they would connect and click the way they did. After just one conversation, and many more after that, Sumpter and Stevenson were invested in each other. They were ready to work together and use their strengths to make an impact in sports. Being a part of Psychletes, “I want to create content that carries a message and tells a story,” Stevenson said, “studying cinema at school I learnt so much about the power of video and I gained as much knowledge as possible about making movies, and film, then adding my competitiveness into the mix I started Overly Competitive Productions where I use my skills and everything I know to one day change the world with content.” 

A lot of people can look at Sumpter, what he does with “SumpDidIt” filming and making highlight videos and Stevenson with his company “Overly Competitive Productions” and compare them to other content creators with ease, however you cannot. The two main individuals behind Psychletes are simply different. Whether that be because of their creativity, passion, or overall goal and vision with the company, it is obvious, after talking with the two individuals, that Psychletes will take over the sports industry. It should not be a matter of “will it be big?” but it should be more of a question like, “what part of Psychletes will make the biggest impact to make the company big?” because of how much they are invested into doing with this platform in the works.  To officially launch the company, and the platform, both Tyler Sumpter and Mekhi Stevenson have released their first ever Psychletes podcast to get into more detail as to who they are and what Psychletes is all about. In the words of founder, CEO Tyler Sumpter himself, “it will be the most impactful company in sports.”

On Sunday, April 3rd, just after Sumpter’s pro day at West Virginia on Tuesday, Stevenson and Sumpter are putting on their first Psychletes event, it will be a retreat and a football camp for high school athletes. To be a part of it and be at the event email TeamOCP.LLC@gmail.com. Being a part of this event will only help you in the long run to become a better player on and off of the football field.

Ottawa to the pros; a look in at some of Ottawa’s top football players going to the pros this year

Every year it seems as if the number of Ottawa football players going to the next level just continues to grow. The football community in Ottawa is in uncharted waters right now. They have never been in the position that they are in right now. In fact, they haven’t even really been close to this before. For many, it is something that they have dreamt of, but having the kind of talent that they have in the city now, as well as the coaching and exposure is something new, and it’s only going to grow moving into the future.

Over the past few years we have seen Eli Ankou and Neville Gallimore compete in the NFL as well as Jackson Bennett, Dan Basambombo, Michael O’Connor, Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and other CFL players from the city make it to the professional stage, however this year may be a record year for the nation’s capital. Not everyone will be first round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas like we may like to see later down the road, however there is a real shot that we see more than one Ottawa-raised player drafted into the NFL this year.

One player that is a sure fire NFL talent would be linebacker and edge rusher Jesse Luketa. Luketa, from South Ottawa originally, an alumnus of St Patrick’s High School in Ottawa has played the last 4 seasons at Penn State in the Big 10. Last season as a senior he made 53 tackles, a sack and scored a touchdown on a pick six. The season earned himself a spot in the NFL Combine and at the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Despite getting hurt at the NFL Combine in early March, his performance at the Senior Bowl in February will have a significant impact on his NFL Draft stock. He dominated throughout the week and eventually had two sacks in the game. With his Penn State pro day on March 24th, he has the potential of being as high as a 3rd round pick if he performs well and has good interviews.

Outside of Luketa, who is almost guaranteed to be drafted in the NFL Draft this April, Luiji Vilain also has a good shot of making his way into the NFL. His collegiate career hasn’t been one bit flashy, having suffered injuries while at Michigan, but after having a productive 2021 season at Wake Forest, there is an NFL opportunity looming for Vilain. He made 34 tackles, 9 sacks, forced two fumbles, recovered one fumble and registered 3 QB hits over his final collegiate season, and his only at Wake Forest. Vilain also went on to compete at the College Gridiron Showcase in Texas in front of a number of NFL scouts. What really will determine his spot in the NFL would be his pro day on March 30th at Wake Forest. Depending on his performance there, in a deep defensive draft, he may be able to find his way into the Draft or get an undrafted free agent contract.

There is also Rutgers defensive back Patrice Rene, Maine defensive back Katley Joseph and Louisiana Tech offensive lineman Chris Fournier who have NCAA experience behind them, and are in this year’s NFL Draft. They each have a shot at making it in the NFL but do have the CFL to back onto if the NFL does not workout for them.

Alongside them is Liam Dobson who played on the offensive line at Maine and most recently suited up at Texas State. Dobson has already signed a contract in the USFL with the New Orleans Breakers, but is still eligible to sign with an NFL team if the interest is there.

There are also a number of USports players with the opportunity to play in the NFL if there is interest. From Ottawa (grew up in Barhaven) would be Deionte Knight, defensive end at Western. He won the 2021 J.P Metras Trophy, leading Canada with 7.5 sacks at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds. Knight played in front of NFL scouts at the East-West Shrine Game in January and recently performed at the University of Buffalo pro day. He is looked at as a top prospect in the 2022 CFL Draft, but if he is signed into the NFL, it wouldn’t be the first time they go out and get a USports defensive lineman.