Ottawa twins Joshua and Jeremie Catulusi look to bring “The Strong Side” to the next level

As of recently, there has been a lot more athletes making it to the next level in football from Ottawa. You can see Ottawa-raised athletes at every single level of football, from high school all the way through the NFL, the capital of Canada is represented extremely well in the game of football, and will only continue to grow across the world. A major reason why I say that, is because of the talent that hasn’t even been touched yet from the city of Ottawa. Yes, we’ve all heard of Eli Ankou, Neville Gallimore, Jesse Luketa, Kurleigh Gittens Jr and Luiji Vilain from Ottawa because of their status as professional athletes, or because of their performances at the division one level, but there are players that are in high school, or even in University that are yet to get their praise, and there are plenty of players exactly like that. Two players, who are class of 2022 or 2023 (2022 but are to re-class) defensive backs from Ottawa fit that description extremely well. Both Joshua and Jeremie Catulusi are two of the best defensive backs that have came through the city of Ottawa, and there’s not a lot of people that know about them just yet, but its just a matter of time before they are talked about around Canada, and even across the border as well.

Both of the Catulusi twins starred this past season with NCAFA’s Nepean Broncos in their undefeated 10-0 season which ended in a loss in North York against the undefeated Essex Ravens in the first ever Ontario Provincial Championship. Coached by Scott Boxall, the Broncos were by far the best team in the city of Ottawa, having won the city Championship in a one sided 28-8 victory over the Cumberland Panthers, but a lot of the team’s success wouldn’t have come without the defensive play, led by Joshua and Jeremie. Joshua played cornerback, while Jeremie served as a half back on the same side of the football field. They called their side of the field, “The Strong Side” and they showed exactly why it is the strong side throughout the entire season.

In the 10 games played, Joshua Catulusi, who stands at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds was targeted at 15 times, breaking up 10 of the passes and allowed just three catches. On top of that he caused a disruption for opposing offences, making double digit tackles on the season, and 2 tackles for loss. From the stats, you may think he is just a lockdown corner, and he is a lockdown corner back, but he also has a very good football I.Q and is able to use his mental part of the game to make plays as well. After training with the twins over the summer, Ottawa’s Coach Jean Guillaume was able to watch some of the Nepean Broncos games in the fall, he talked about how Joshua’s smarts can help a defence, “he plays very smart. He is able to make decisions mid play, which is crucial as a defensive back and is something as a coach is beautiful to see. I remember there was a play where they threw a screen pass on his side of the field and instead of going into coverage, as he saw the play develop he bursted through his block and made the play, and not only did he make the play, but he finished it.” Guillaume explained, “a lot of DBs can read plays or set themselves up to make a play, but Joshua has the physicality to finish the play as well. He plays with heart and is a physical DB, something that offences don’t like. I was proud to see how he played this year, and how he was able to use his techniques and apply them to game time situations.”

Along with his lockdown ability, ability to read and finish plays, Joshua Catulusi is known to bring intensity to any defence he is on. He talks up a game with the opposing receivers, hypes up his teammates around him and all around brings positive energy to the teams he is on, something he’s done since he first stepped on a football field at 11 years old with the Bell Warriors. When asked about the energy he brings to a defence he said, “I bring excitement. When I step on the field I am hype and I want to make sure the people around me are too. I love to compete, my passion is incomparable. I remember there was one practice I was so hyped, I don’t remember why but I was barking at the receivers, and the team loved it, they fed off my energy. I like to scare my opposing receiver and quarterback before the play starts, make sure I stand out and then when it comes time for the play to start thats when I like to prove myself. My goal when I play is to prove myself every single play and make sure I turn up the team around me.”

As for Jeremie Catulusi, at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds he lined up mainly at half back this fall with the Nepean Broncos, making his presence felt on “The Strong Side” he led the entire city of Ottawa in turnovers. With his height, he towers over the majority of opposing receivers, and becomes a threat to quarterbacks the second he steps foot on the field, and if you go back to when he first started to play football, he’s always had a height advantage. Starting to play football at 11 years old with NCAFA’s Bell Warriors with his brother, playing a few seasons there as well as with the Ottawa Sooners in the OPFL, Jeremie over the years has been good with facing competition. He said in an interview with JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “Playing city ball was a good warm up for me. It got me introduced to football and I had fun learning about all of the different positions I can play, but when I started to play more competitively, with the Sooners I felt like I was competing more and having more to play for and as soon as I adjusted myself to that competition I’ve been on the top of my game. Since then I’ve been really working hard and I know I have gotten a lot better.”

Getting better, Jeremie Catulusi has developed into a lockdown defensive back himself, like his brother Joshua. He considers himself a ballhawk, and so does Coach Jean Guillaume who spent time with him during the off-season and has watched him play a number of times. Guillaume emphasized, “his side, with Joshua is on lockdown. He has great length as a defensive back, something that you don’t see often. He is a prototype defensive play maker and you can see that no matter the receiver he is up against, he can win the 1 on 1 battle.” Talking about Jeremie’s size and athleticism, Guillaume also told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “the game is always changing. We have receivers now that are tall and run the fastest on the team, and you’re going to need DBs to cover them. These Megatron receivers, who have size and speed need to be stopped some how, and both J.R and Joshua are proving that they can lineup against those receivers.”

Someone else that spent time with the Catulusi’s like Guillaume was Sherrod Baltimore, defensive back for the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks. Baltimore attended some of the trainings that Guillaume put on with the Catulusi twins in Ottawa and helped coach them up on some techniques. From what he saw of them at training and on film from the 2021 fall season that they played he said, regarding Jeremie Catulusi, “He has great size for a DB. Tall, lanky (long wingspan). Great ball skills, does a good job tracking the ball in the air. Has good footwork, and hips.” As for Joshua he said, “He’s physical. Has decent ball skills, good footwork, moves his hips well and really has good awareness on the field to make a play.”

Jeremie, in addition to what he can do as a defensive back, locking down receivers and making plays on the football as a ball hawk, also has a special skill set on special teams. Since he was young he’s been returning kickoffs and punts, having been the fastest on all of the teams he’s played on, and he continues to serve as a returner, but he’s also accomplished a lot on kickoff team and even blocking on the kickoff return team which its shown on film. Jeremie said, “Special teams is where I thrive. My favourite thing to do in football is return kicks and punts, and really every team I’m on, offence, defence or special teams I will make sure I’m the best on it, no matter my role on it.”

In the fall 2021 season with the Nepean Broncos, it happened twice where Jeremie would play on the kickoff team, as the ball was kicked the minimum 10 yards, he would run and catch the onside kick. Once over a few players on the return team, and the other all alone in space. Those two plays, and more are available to see on his season highlight reel made by JZ Media and it really displays his ability to do it all as a player, something he and his brother will be asked to do at the next level, and that is exactly the plan. Both Jeremie and Joshua have the goal to play at the highest level of football that they can, and no mater what level that is, what team they land with or what the coaches decide for them, they will prove exactly why they deserve it, like they have already.

When asked about the goal moving forward, Joshua Catulusi said, “I want to play at the highest level there is. I know I can play there, I just need the opportunity. This off-season will be big for me, I will be working very hard on perfecting my craft and will make sure that I am the best player possible. I have division one dreams, but no matter who gets me, I know I’m going to be a blessing to their defence.”

Jeremie Catulusi added to the conversation, “I will play at the next level, and I’ll do whatever it takes to lock it down there too. I know I’m big for a DB, so I’m going to work on being versatile and get strong to play other positions like linebacker and even on offence at tight end or receiver. I’ll do whatever I can to be at the top, I know I can play there.”

“They play with confidence. They have size, something you can’t teach, they have the heart, and they play physical. Both J.R and Joshua will play at a high level, and I’m going to help with the process to get there.” Coach Jean Guillaume said, “I will support them with what they want to do, and go about it how they’d like because it is there future. Right now they are looking to play prep school and then play division one football, we will check the boxes because they belong at the next level.”

Ottawa’s Tunde Adeleke and Jackson Bennett to represent 613 in 108th Grey Cup with Hamilton Tiger Cats

On Sunday December 12th, at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, Ontario, the biggest game in Canadian football will be played between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. After a full 2020 calendar year without football, the 108th Grey Cup will finally be played, and will be played with a hint of Ottawa football. Set to suit up in Black and Yellow is Jackson Bennett and Tunde Adeleke, representing the city of Ottawa on the big stage for the second consecutive CFL season.

Tiger-Cats running back Jackson Bennett was born and raised on the east side of Ottawa, having went to Sir Wilfred Laurier Secondary School, and played Cumberland Panthers Football while training with Joey Kwasniewski and Titan Performance. He stayed local, played for the University of Ottawa where he lined up as a defensive back and linebacker for 3 of the 4 seasons he spent with the program. Over 23 games played for the Garnet and Grey, Bennett made 89 solo tackles, 1 sack, intercepted three passes, including one pick six and returned kicks, 2 for touchdowns. The NFL’s New York Giants had him try out in the spring of 2018 after he was drafted by the Tiger-Cats in the 2nd round of the 2018 CFL Draft. Unfortunately he did not make it into the NFL, but has been showcasing his athleticism in every opportunity in the CFL since. Bennett was drafted as a defensive back and linebacker for the Tiger-Cats, where he made 3 defensive tackles, 8 special teams tackles, and a sack in his rookie year in the CFL but slowly transitioned into an offensive role, returning 7 kicks for 155 yards in the 2018 CFL season, then getting 37 offensive touches in 2019 which he turned into 219 yards and a score. The same year, Bennett still made 10 tackles and forced a fumble on special teams, and now for the 2021 CFL season as a running back and contributor on special teams he had 102 yards of offence on 22 touches and made 4 special teams tackles.

Defensive back Tunde Adeleke, who almost put the game on ice on Sunday against the Argonauts with his interception which was later called back as an incompletion, also lived in the Ottawa area growing up. He was born in Nigeria, and moved to Canada during his childhood where he went on to attend St Francis Xavier High School in the nation’s capital, then made his way to Carleton University in Ottawa. As a Carleton Raven, Adeleke made a splash on both the defensive side of the ball and on special teams as a returner, returning a 129 yard missed field goal for a score in his time with the Ravens. He was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in the third round of the 2017 CFL Draft and played two seasons with the Stampeders. In 30 games with Calgary, Adeleke made 45 tackles on defence, 2 sacks, forced two fumbles, scored one touchdown and then made an additional 24 special teams tackles. Adeleke was then signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats where he has been a star for back to back seasons. A part of the 2019 defence which went to the Grey Cup he made 52 tackles and 2 interceptions, being named a CFL All-Star, and this season he made 44 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions in just 14 games, being named an All-Star once again. In the playoff run, thus far Adeleke has made 14 tackles over the two games and is ready to perform at home for the Grey Cup against Winnipeg.

The Grey Cup will be played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton at 6:00 on Sunday December 12th. Watch both Adeleke and Bennett represent their home town in the big game on TSN.

The start of a new era; Montreal’s Edwin Wilson Tara-Kolenge puts on Boston College Eagles jersey for first time

On Saturday, during his official visit at Boston College, after committing to play for the Eagles back in June, 7 months later Edwin Wilson Tara-Kolenge put on a Boston College football jersey for the first time. Tara-Kolenge, who is a Montreal, Quebec-raised linebacker has spent the past two years in the United States, 2020 in Florida with the Clearwater Academy International Knights, coached by the well known Jesse Chinchar and this year at The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut. This year at Loomis Chaffee, Tara-Kolenge played in 10 games, making 86 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and forced 9 turnovers, 5 fumbles and 4 interceptions, including a pick six.

He has always lived up to the hype on the football field, and deserves all of the success coming his way as he goes into the next stop in his journey, at Boston College because of all of what he does off of the field. Tara-Kolenge has worked extremely hard to get to where he is athletically, but he’s also been a great student as well, putting emphasis on the term “student athlete”.

You now get your first looks at 6-foot-3, 225 pound linebacker Edwin Wilson Tara-Kolenge in a Boston College uniform, but it will be a picture you will get used to seeing over the next 3 or 4 years as he is ready to take over the world as a football player.

Ottawa brothers Alex and Luiji Vilain set to play in championship games across the border on Saturday

In today’s day and age, you can turn on the television on Sunday to watch your weekly dose of NFL football and do so seeing Canadian players playing regularly. During the 2021-22 NFL season we have already seen Canadians Chase Claypool, Chuba Hubbard, Jevon Holland, Benjamin St Juste, Christian Covington, Tevaughn Campbell and Joshua Palmer each make large impacts for their respective NFL teams alongside other Canadians and that trend will only continue through the remainder of the season.

With 6 weeks of NFL regular season football left in the year, expect to see a lot more Canadians making plays on the big stage, but not only this year but moving forward as well. In the 2022 NFL Draft, which is expected to take place at the end of April 2022 we are going to see even more Canadians enter the NFL including a number of players from the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Among the Ottawa-raised players eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft is Wake Forest’s Luiji Vilain who is to play in the ACC Championship on Saturday with the Demon Deacons as they kickoff against the Pitt Panthers.

Vilain is originally from the east-end of Ottawa where he began playing football and trained with Victor Tedondo at Gridiron Academy. He starred at a young age on the football field, opening the opportunity to take his talents across the border, eventually playing football and attending school at Episcopal High School in Virginia alongside other Gridiron Academy members Patrice Rene, Jonathan Sutherland, and Chris Fournier who are all eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft as well. Luiji Vilain made a name for himself at Episcopal like the other Ottawa athletes that came there with him. He was listed as a 4-star recruit, was selected to play in the 2017 Under Armour All-American game and was ranked as the third overall player in the entire state of Virginia by 247Sports. Those acknowledgements led to a number of division one offers, including one from Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines where Vilain went from the 2017 season through the 2020 season. Unfortunately things didn’t work out perfectly for him at Michigan, having suffered injuries throughout his career with the Wolverines, but he received his degree from Michigan University in 2021 and entered the transfer portal, becoming a Wake Forest Demon Deacon in late January.

Over the 2021 season with Wake Forest, Vilain has had a breakout campaign. Starting the season with a 2 tackle performance against Old Dominion, then beginning a streak of 4 consecutive games with a sack, making 3 sacks since, in the 12 games he played with Wake Forest he has been a part of 8 sacks while making a total 31 tackles, forcing and recovering a fumble and breaking up a pass. The 6-foot-4, 252 pound edge rusher will be playing in the 2021 ACC Championship on Saturday December 4th against the Pittsburgh University Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Both teams finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and are each ranked in the top 25, Wake Forest at 10 and Pitt at 15, making it a must watch game for all football fans, however for family of Luiji Vilain it may not be easy to watch the entire game.

The ACC Championship game will start at 8:00 eastern, and will be televised, so access to the game shouldn’t be a problem, but the 8:00 start time will be mid-way through the Clearwater Academy International vs IMG Academy Florida independent State Championship which starts at 7:00. For most people, that sounds like a random high school football game in Florida, but for the Vilain family it is a very big game, just like the ACC Championship, because Luiji Vilain’s younger brother Alex Vilain will be playing wide receiver on Saturday for the Clearwater Academy International Knights.

Alex Vilain is in his senior season at Clearwater Academy International in Florida, and after starting his football journey in Ottawa with the Cumberland Panthers, North Gloucester Giants and St. Matthew High School Tigers, being coached by Coach Jean Guillaume and trained by Iseah Montgiraud of Limitless Era, Vilain has 160 yards and two touchdowns to his name over the two regular seasons he’s played in Florida. At 6-foot-1,185 pounds, Alex Vilain sticks out with his speed, route running and ability to use his body against the opposing defensive back. He is able to go up and get the 50/50 ball, something that he will be expected to do at the next level, but before then he will have to play his final high school football game on Saturday.

He and his Clearwater Academy International Knights, who feature a list of Canadian athletes on the roster, including Alabama commit Isaiah Hastings, will be kicking off at 7:00 against IMG Academy’s white team in the Florida Independent State Championship. The game will be available to watch live on YouTube, so tune into Alex Vilain and the CAI Knights while you get ready to watch big brother Luiji Vilain and Wake Forest.

Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Kenny Stafford’s 2021 CFL season highlight reel

After being signed by the Ottawa Redblacks mid way through the 2021 CFL season, 31 year old veteran CFL receiver Kenny Stafford caught 17 passes for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Watch his 2021 CFL season highlights below:

Looking back at the Ottawa Redblacks 2021 CFL season; who led the passing attack?

The 2021 CFL season didn’t quite go as planned for the Ottawa Redblacks. Going into the season, the Redblacks, like every other team in the CFL had all eyes on playing the Grey Cup in Hamilton on December 12th. Instead, they went 3 and 11 and will not play again until the 2022 CFL season, finishing their 2021 season on November 19th in Montreal, but even though they didn’t make it far, the Ottawa Redblacks were able to find some key pieces for the 2022 CFL season and beyond.

Among those pieces, and leading the pack for the Redblacks during the back half of the 2021 CFL season is Caleb Evans. The 23 year old rookie quarterback came into his first professional game on September 28th against the Edmonton Elks at TD Place where he put the entire league on notice, throwing for 191 yards, running for an additional 59 yards and scoring three touchdowns through the air in what was the Redblacks second of three wins on the season. He then went on to complete 108 of 182 passing attempts in 7 starts for 1,279 yards with a 5:9 touchdown to interception ratio and 345 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Evans finished the 2021 CFL season strong, going back to back starts without throwing an interception to close out the season and winning the season finale against the Montreal Alouettes with 229 yards of offence, 2 rushing touchdowns and two 2-point conversions to receiver RJ Harris but he wasn’t able to accomplish everything he did on his own.

There were a number of players on the Ottawa Redblacks offence that helped Caleb Evans and other quarterbacks Matt Nichols, Dominique Davis and Devlin Hodges put points on the board during the 2021 CFL season. Up front, on the offensive line, although there were struggles, giving up a league lead 53 sacks on the season, all of the positives that came out of the 2021 season would not be possible without offensive lineman Mark Korte. Korte missed just one of the 14 games during the 2021 CFL season and played nearly every single position on the Ottawa Redblacks offensive line over the span of the season. With 48 games under his belt over the three seasons he’s been with the Redblacks, there is no doubt that he is a must re-sign player for the Ottawa Redblacks this off-season as he is a pending free agent alongside other proven lineman Nolan MacMillan.

From the backfield, standing right next to the quarterback before every play is the running back. For the Ottawa Redblacks, there wasn’t one running back that made a huge impact for the team in the running game, simply because the offensive line was never 100% healthy and the Redblacks rarely were in situations to run the ball consistently, so the running backs were often put in the position to pass block and go out to catch the ball as a receiver. Over the 2021 season the Redblacks saw Timothy Flanders, Justin Davis and De’Lance Turner start games for the team, and of all of the running backs it is Flanders that made the largest impact in the passing attack. It wasn’t because he caught 100 passes or anything crazy like that, but because Timothy Flanders consistently provided his pass blocking abilities to the Redblacks offence, which, in a year where the offensive line struggled came in to play a big role in the offence. Flanders also caught for 168 yards and a touchdown in the games he played, including a 39 yard screen pass on the final drive of the 2021 CFL season which set up the game winning score against the Alouettes.

Then at receiver, there wasn’t just one player that helped Evans and the Ottawa Redblacks quarterbacks, but it was more of the entire receiving core that did so.

R.J Harris, in his third season as an Ottawa Redblacks receiver took on more of a primary role in the Redblacks offence, leading the pack with 595 receiving yards on 46 catches. He also added two 2-point conversion catches in the season finale to his totals. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Davis, after setting the record at Auburn University for most receptions in a collegiate career with 178 caught a team lead 55 passes for 589 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davis also had 43 rushing yards and 481 return yards, giving him 1,113 yards all-purpose as a rookie, awarding him the Redblacks rookie of the year award. Canadian receiver Nate Behar, from Carleton University in Ottawa had his biggest season of his CFL career, having a career high 38 catches for 439 receiving yards. Behar now has 81 catches for 865 yards and a score in his 61 games in the CFL over the 4 seasons he’s played with both Edmonton and Ottawa.

Kenny Stafford, who came in mid way through the 2021 CFL season by the Ottawa Redblacks, although he’s not talked about heavily made a large impact in the Redblacks offence. He, a 31 year old, 8 season CFL veteran brought a much needed veteran presence to the Ottawa offence, and not only did he help lead the group with the players around him, but he excelled with them as well. He wasn’t thrown the ball a lot as if he was the number one target in the offence, but when targeted he was efficient, catching 17 passes for 242 yards and 3 scores in the 8 games he played with the Redblacks.

The four leading receivers for the Ottawa Redblacks combined for a total 156 catches, 1,865 yards, 5 touchdowns and two 2-point conversions. They aren’t flashy numbers by any means, but the group made a big enough impact to help rookie quarterback Caleb Evans develop and grow into the quarterback we will see in 2022.

When the Ottawa Redblacks are back in 2022, the offence could look very different though, Stafford, Harris and Behar are all pending free agents. Ryan Davis, and Jordan Smallwood are under contract though, two receivers that spent their rookie CFL seasons with Ottawa in 2021, and the Redblacks are expected to go after a number one receiver in free agency. If the three pending free agents are extended, both Smallwood and Davis remain in the nation’s capital and the Redblacks bring in a number one receiver as well as a ratio breaking Canadian receiver, the Ottawa Redblacks offence could be one of the best in the CFL with dual threat quarterback Caleb Evans.

Those ifs will only be answered with time though, the CFL’s 2021 season will officially wrap up on December 12th in Hamilton with the 108th Grey Cup. After that it will be the off-season, an off-season full of big decisions for the Ottawa Redblacks. Stay tuned.

John Metchie headlines group of Canadians making plays down south with game winning catch in Iron Bowl

Prior to the 2021 NCAA Football season, ESPN’s Mel Kiper named Alabama Crimson Tide receiver John Metchie, who is originally from Brampton, Ontario the 21st best player in the 2022 NFL Draft class and with the regular season officially wrapped up for the NCAA, Metchie was able to live up tp the hype. Over the 2021 regular season the Canadian caught 90 passes for 1,045 yards and 7 touchdowns, and he finished the year off strong on Saturday in the 86th annual Iron Bowl between the Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers.

Against Auburn Metchie caught 13 passes, a career high for 150 yards. While he did not score a touchdown on the outing, he did indeed catch two 2-point conversions in overtime, including the game winning 2-point score on an incredible bang route which has been seen across the internet already, but he’s not the only Canadian getting praise on the south side of the Canada-USA border.

Among the Canadians that made their respective impacts in the final week of regular season NCAA football was Ottawa defensive end Luiji Vilain who made 4 tackles and 2 sacks for Wake Forest in a win over Boston College, putting them into the ACC Championship against Pittsburgh. Vilain has 31 tackles and 7 sacks on the season. North Carolina State defensive tackle Daniel Joseph made 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks in their 34-30 win over UNC, giving him 36 tackles, 6 sacks and a forced fumble in his senior season. Akeem Mesidor, Ottawa-native for the West Virginia Mountaineers made 5 tackles and a sack in his final regular season game of his sophomore season in which he had a total 4.5 sacks, putting himself in 10 sacks over his two seasons with WVU coming out of Clearwater Academy International in Florida. Running back Chase Brown, originally from London, Ontario ran for 112 yards and a score on 14 carries with Illinois on Saturday, giving him 1,005 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. With 142 receiving yards also to his name, in the 10 games played in 2021 Brown has averaged 114.7 yards. His brother Sydney Brown also made quite the impact for Illinois, making 6 tackles in the season finale and a total 69 tackles, sack, two forced fumbles and three pass deflections over the season.

Also making a difference for his team was Jesse Luketa, the Ottawa-native is set to play in the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl and is on the Dick Butkus Award watchlist for what he’s done with Penn State. During his senior season Luketa made 52 tackles, a sack and had one pick six, of those stats 4 tackles and 2 tackles for loss came in Saturday’s regular season finale.

There are other Canadians that have made big plays of their own over the 2021 regular season who will be talked about once the season is officially wrapped up, bowl games included, but now is the time to look forward to NCAA bowl season!

Next weekend there will be conference championships, and followed by that will be the bowl games, where you’ll be able to see more Canadian content.

“Its different.” former football player Darnell Thompson goes into detail with his brand, “Zero Dollars”

When you put your clothes on in the morning, is there a reason for why you chose the clothes that you did?

Sure, a lot of the time the clothes that you put on in the morning are for something specific, like work, a date, or maybe a family get together and you can’t necessarily go all out with your outfit, but there is typically a reason why you are wearing what you are wearing. Whether its a Spongebob Squarepants tee shirt because you loved the TV show growing up, a shirt with a message you live by, a Dez Bryant jersey because he’s the reason why you love football or maybe its just a simple white shirt you are wearing because it has your friend’s company logo on it, there was something behind your decision to wear your outfit on every day, at least there should have been.

Nowadays, in society many people are just wearing clothes to “fit in”, to “be cool” or “for a trend”. Companies like Champion, Supreme, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Stussy and A Breathing Ape have made a lot of money off of teenagers and young adults in this specific area, which in consideration is extremely sad, but with companies like Zero Dollars now on the horizon, things are subject to change in the fashion industry.

Zero Dollars is a clothing brand owned by former professional football player Darnell Thompson.

Thompson, who is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina went to three high schools in North Carolina, Wakefield High School, Millbrook High School and Wakefield High School. He played both football and basketball growing up, but mainly starred as a football player, in which he went onto play at the collegiate level as. In 2014 he played at Highland Community College in Kansas where he made 13 tackles, 1 sack and recovered two fumbles before committing to play at Colarado State University, a decision he made over a number of other NCAA division one programs like Appalachian State, Buffalo, Fresno State and Purdue. At Colorado State, with the Rams, Darnell Thompson played in 31 games over 3 seasons where he made a total 66 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and had two pass deflections. Unfortunately Thompson did not get drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. He found himself going the entire 2018 NFL season without an opportunity to play football and was the signed by the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders where he spent time in 2019.

He later got released by the Stampeders and says he’s been “hitting and running ever since.”

By that, Thompson is referring to the work he has done surrounding his company, Zero Dollars which is based off of the message, “It Takes Zero Dollars To Be Yourself.”

When asked about the message, and his company, Darnell Thompson told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “Its a really authentic quote.” and continued, “I feel like there’s a lot of quotes out there that are made up but if you say it takes zero dollars to be yourself, it really does take nothing to just be you in the world that we live in, so when I created it I was actually working in a hostpital and I remember I called my friend at like 3-o’clock in the morning and was like, ‘I’m going to trademark that quote’ and I did. It took me like a year to get through the whole process of it getting trademarked but it really just came up to me because my whole idea with it was the authentic part and being real to yourself in the society we live in.”

More on his decision on the certain quote, he told Zlomislic, “When I was a kid I was diagnosed with crohns disease and I was in the hospital a lot, and when you’re in the hospital, there are a lot of sick kids around you that have very little left to live but still have pure joy. They could be dying, maybe have a day or two left to live but at the end of the day they are happy, its a part of their personality to be joyful and when you have joy, nothing can take that away.” Thompson explained, “that taught me that even at your lowest times, being yourself can make a difference, and in my life I had my most fun, met the best people when I had nothing in my life.” he said, “It really showed me that you don’t really need money. Yes you need it to live but money isn’t needed for you to be you. Money should never change you. If money changes someone around me, I don’t want to be around them because they are fake.”

Putting the quote “It Takes Zero Dollars To Be Yourself.” and a logo inspired by the art work of Jean-Michael Basquiat on quality clothing, Darnell Thompson is giving people a reason to wear his clothing. When people put on their Zero Dollars clothes in the morning and have it on throughout the day, they can be themselves, and look good doing so. Among the people wearing Zero Dollars thus far include NFL players Michael Gallup of the Dallas Cowboys, Reece Fountain of the Kansas City Chiefs and Richie James of the San Fransisco 49ers as well as NBA player of the Indiana Pacers Myles Turner. The vision, and the message has touched many people with these star athletes wearing the brand on the big stage. For Thompson, it means a lot to him to see that, to see the support for Zero Dollars.

“It feels good.” Thompson said when asked about people wearing his brand, “To have the support means a lot because there are a lot of people out there that say that they’ll support you, but never do so those that do, when I see it and I see them wearing my company it feels so good.”

From his time spent playing football to today where he has built himself a clothing brand, Darnell Thompson has always succeeded and gave reason for people to keep eyes on him. There shouldn’t be a reason to look away from what he is doing with “Zero Dollars”, as everything he is doing with his company is for the good. The goal of spreading a powerful message and delivering top quality clothing to those around the world shouldn’t be something taken lightly by people around the world. Instead of going with a trend, or going with some clothing items that help you fit in, stick out and wear Zero Dollars’ “It Takes Zero Dollars To Be Yourself” clothing.

For more on Darnell Thompson and his clothing brand visit the links below:

Ottawa Redblacks’ Grey Cup win reaches 5 year anniversary

5 years ago today the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks beat the Calgary Stampeders in the 104th Grey Cup. Henry Burris and the Redblacks, after going 2-16 in their first year of existence made their way to the Grey Cup with an 8-9-1 regular season record against the 15-2-1 Calgary Stampeders.

The historic game ended in overtime at BMO Field in Toronto, with the Redblacks finishing on top 39-33 from a beautiful Ernest Jackson overtime score.

To reminisce and re-watch the 104th Grey Cup click the YouTube link below!