Skyline Sports Global, JZ Media to release documentary series on Ottawa’s Alain Cimankinda

The city of Ottawa has always been a hotspot for talent. We’ve always seen people come out of Ottawa and be successful in a number of different fields, though it is only recently that we’ve seen success happen through the game of football. Sports has been a big thing for not only the city of Ottawa but the country of Canada for some time now, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding hockey, lacrosse, soccer, basketball and even baseball but as time starts to go by the game of football is continuing to evolve into something larger than life in Canada, most specifically in Ottawa. Over just the span of 5 years we have seen exactly what some had talked about come to fruition. Canada will never be as high up in the game of football as the United States and Canadian athletes have grown to respect that, though they haven’t come to peace with the fact that Canadian athletes aren’t given the same amount of opportunity as Americans. Players across the United States are given the most exposure in the world, getting talked about in the media and having scouts at games from the division one level is just a regular week for most athletes in states like Florida, Texas, Louisiana or California, but is something that athletes in Ottawa dream of. Thanks to players like Eli Ankou, Neville Gallimore, Alex Mateas and even players from the past like Jesse Palmer who have set the tone for Ottawa athletes, the city has been recognized a little more over the last while for the football being played in it, though the best is yet to come. The city is continuously getting looked at more and more for the football being played in Ottawa, from the youth football to the Ottawa Redblacks at the professional level, everything is being looked at and is improving daily. A great example of that is Ottawa’s very own Alain Cimankinda.

Alain Cimankinda is likely one of the best athletes that the city of Ottawa has seen over the past few years. He has shown it at every stage of football, from youth football all the way to the University level and come spring Cimankinda will be able to begin his professional career, showcasing his talent at the CFL level though it wasn’t easy for him to get to this point. To become a professional athlete and a very successful person off of the field Cimankinda has had to go through a lot of adversity and moving forward with his football career he hopes to show the world that if he can be where he is today, as a professional athlete, you can tackle your own obstacles as well. Doing so, Alain Cimankinda has teamed up with a group of sports enthusiasts and content creators in Ottawa to work on his very own documentary series. The documentary series will document what he’s gone through to get to where he is today, his prep for the CFL Draft this spring as well as a day in the life style documentary where Cimankinda’s audience will have the chance to see what the star defensive lineman does off of the field, his trainings, what he eats on a daily basis, his entrepreneurial life and the people that he talks to the most.

In all, the main goal of the documentary series is to inspire others. Alain Cimankinda went through a lot to get to where he is and he continues to break the barriers in his way of success on and off of the field; something he hopes others can do as well. The man behind the vision to start the documentary project, Ronny Musikitele, a sports enthusiast and owner Skyline Sports Global where he does his part to bring athletes of all stages, youth, university and pro to the highest level possible. Musikitele has been a big supporter of Alain Cimankinda since he was in youth league; being aware of the talent and athletic abilities that run in the Cimankinda family, starting with Alain’s older brothers and of course ending with Alain and his younger brother J.P Cimankinda who is signed to play with the University of Ottawa Gee Gees in 2021. He has seen Alain grow from the outside looking in and as he has watched him grow not only as an athlete but as a person he has been keen on bringing the Alain Cimankinda story to more people outside of just Ottawa. The best way to do so and the way that Musikitele and Cimankinda both agreed upon was a documentary series, when asked about the project which is almost in the works pending Covid-19 restrictions Musikitele had said, “I met Alain when I was young, I was actually close with his cousin when I was around 7 or 8 years old which kind of exposed me to him and his family. As a sports fan and one that played sports growing up my first thought of Alain and his brothers was like ‘wow these guys are beasts’ simply because they were always bigger than other kids their age and with the athletic ability that they all had you knew that one of them would be a big name one day.”

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Establishing his name first at Guelph University, almost breaking records at the U Sport level it is looking like Alain Cimankinda will be the big name of the family. A part of the spreading of the name ‘Alain Cimankinda’ Ronny Musikitele is working on having his name known in the media, not only for football but also for the person Alain is, starting with this documentary series. Ronny added, “Its a beautiful thing what he is doing off of the field. He is a world class athlete, becoming a professional in the CFL and to see that he has a lot going on off of the field as well, being an entrepreneur and a positive influence on social media its great to see. My goal with Skyline (Sports Global, Musikitele’s company) is to help athletes and seeing that Alain is doing that too, while being an athlete I felt like he was the perfect example for what I am trying to accomplish and if enough people see what he is doing, a lot of people can be impacted by his vision.”

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Alain Cimankinda’s vision has always been simple. In every stage of life he has been in; whether it was when he was in elementary school and playing youth football, going to Franco Cité and playing high school football there or even most recently when he was at post secondary school, continuing his path to the NFL or CFL he has always wanted to be the best Alain Cimankinda he can possibly be. That is something he has done on and off of the field, getting sacks on quarterbacks at every level of football, graduating university and now starting up his own companies in ‘Sauce Life Royalty’, and ‘El Saucy clothing’. To showcase exactly what he is doing he will be talking a lot in the documentary series to talk about the journey he took to get to where he is today, prepping for the CFL Draft as well as the vision and goals he has set for himself moving forward in his careers on and off of the field. When asked about the documentary coming soon Cimankinda was keen on saying, “Football was my way out. It was my calling on how I can get out of where I was, growing up in a rougher area in Ottawa but it isn’t the only avenue for my future. I am now in a comfortable position where I will make money from football but I’m also starting my life outside of football as well which will be more of my work while football will be more fun for myself. I want to make sure that people understand that they can do more outside of just one thing. If you’re an athlete or even a student athlete you don’t have to wait until after your career to start working on something major for yourself, you can do it now.” He also added when talking about the documentary, “I’m really excited about it. I am very active on social media, hoping to inspire others every chance I have to do so and now if I can share my story and my visions I think I can inspire a lot of people and really that is my only goal because it is more than just being able to have my name advertised, its to bring attention to topics that can benefit others.”

As Alain Cimankinda, Ronny Musikitele, Jordan Zlomislic and Eldrinson Vado work on the documentary series surrounding the journey and future of Alain Cimankinda; do some research on Cimankinda, learn more about his career up to this point and when the series starts to be released to the world and he is drafted into the CFL you will be caught up on the amazing journey he has taken.

Less than two weeks until kickoff, the Fan Controlled Football League creates a buzz on social media, “We need leagues like this”

SXSW Startups: FC Football League | by Hugh Forrest | Austin Startups

The NFL is and always will be the number one league for football. Its without a question. There are leagues with similar talent like the CFL and XFL who are able to have a number of loyal fans who support the leagues but the business side of things will always have the NFL on top. In the past the CFL was much larger than it is now; having teams in the states and in Canada and the NFL wasn’t as big as it is now, though times have changed and they will never change back to what it was but that doesn’t mean that other league can’t have success. Outside of what you could call ‘The Big 3’ which would be the NFL, CFL and XFL there have been a number of smaller leagues that have tried to start up to provide more opportunities to football players and exposure to the three bigger leagues. The majority of the leagues haven’t had a lot of success like they may have imagined when they all start up, most of them end up folding because of financial difficulties, though there is a league starting up in just under two weeks which may just be different than the other leagues that have attempted exactly what they are trying to do.

NFL's Rooney Rule additions are a positive step forward, but more teeth  needed - CBSSports.com

Kicking off on February 13th, a week following the 2021 Super Bowl is the Fan Controlled Football league, 7 on 7 football league controlled by the fans. You may hear that and give it the eye roll just because it doesn’t necessarily sound too realistic nor does it sound appealing for football fans, though this is something that could really pop off and become something big. A league with just 4 teams, going to become something big? How? Well the Fan Controlled Football League has been creating quite the buzz for itself on social media recently because of the people involved with the league. Each team has big name personalities which is a main reason why the league has been out there a lot on social media. Each team is owned by social media influencers and professional athletes, Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, Austin Ekeler, Trevor May, Bob Menry, Quavo and Donald “Deestroying” De La Haye just to name a few. The people involved is one thing, but the football is another. Of course come February 13th, the NFL season will be over. The Super Bowl is over and done with by the end of the night February 7th, and for football fans usually the off-season would begin but this year the off-season will have to wait until March. An extra month of football, something everyone loves to hear about and now with the Fan Controlled Football League it has been spoken into existence, but this isn’t your typical football league. Of course you would know that by the name, though the Fan Controlled Football League is in other words, Real Life Fantasy Football. Every football fan out there has criticized the general manager of their favourite football team because of the moves they make in charge so now in the FCF, the fans are the general managers.

Every week the fans of the FCF will have the opportunity to re-draft for each of the four teams, picking who goes where and with who, fans also have a say on the rules. Looking at it from a far, the FCF is nothing like the NFL, its 7 on 7 football and the fact that it is different is a main reason for the buzz that the league has created on social media. Many call the NFL the “No Fun League” because of the rules that hurt teams and all of the regulations the players have to follow on and off of the field but unlike the NFL the Fan Controlled Football League is “The All Fun League” where the fans are in charge. Players will have entrances like the WWE wrestlers do, you will have the chance to watch the games from drone cameras, go pro cameras and even virtual reality cameras and as if you are playing Madden with your best friend, you call the plays. One thing that a lot of people are excited about is the play calling. Fans of their respective teams will have the choice whether their team will pass or run the ball. It will go into a total vote and after about one or two minutes the vote will close and the game will go on. This is just one of many reasons why fans are excited but so are the players, Fan Controlled Football League receiver Andrew Jamiel had told me in an interview, “Its going to be really fun. The league is all about the fans and that’s something that you don’t see a lot with the NFL and other professional leagues and its really been cool. I’ve already seen how much the fans of the league are interested in it and the league really has the chance to be something big because of the fans.”

Meet 2020 NFL Draft Prospect: Lamarcus Caradine, WR, Belhaven
Marcus Caradine at Belhaven University

As fun as the league may be and with the league mostly controlled by its fans, it may seem like a joke to some though the Fan Controlled Football League is still football and despite all of the fun rules and the involvement of the fans the players in the league are on a business trip. The players that are in the league, although you may be deciding which teams they play on and what rules they play by, they are there for a professional football opportunity. Each one of them have worked extremely hard to be in the position which they are in today and are continuing to work to one day play in the NFL. Talking about the opportunity to be in the Fan Controlled Football League and building on that point is wide receiver of the league Marcus Caradine, “Its a blessing to be able to play professional football.” he said, “This has been a game which I’ve played since I was young and to be able to play a game of football or practice for a week and come back with a cheque, that’s a blessing in itself. We are being payed to play a Childs game and that’s something that I want to do for a very long time and I hope to do it at the highest level.” The highest level being the NFL is somewhere that a lot of athletes strive to play at and as for both Andrew Jamiel and Marcus Caradine they are in a perfect position to get to that point. Small leagues like the FCF or the Arena Football Leagues are typically used as leagues for players to create opportunities in either the CFL or XFL. Some do get lucky and get the opportunity to play in the NFL from the smaller leagues, though it isn’t very common, but now with the Fan Controlled Football League, because of the personnel within the league there may be some players with the opportunity to play at the NFL after this 2021 FCF season. Talking about the possibility of going to the next level from this league and the people involved and able to make that happen receiver Andrew Jamiel pointed out, “The league has the people to make it happen.” and continued to say, “We have the stage and the opportunity to be in the NFL we just have to showcase our skills to make it happen.”

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Andrew Jamiel at Stonehill College

In all, with the opportunities that can come out of leagues like the Fan Controlled Football League and the amount of buzz surrounding the league right now there is a lot of potential for the future of it and a lot of people are excited about how the league does, some CFL and NFL players included. Ottawa Redblacks receiver Jalen Saunders in the CFL talked about the league in an interview I did with him last week, “It will be cool to see what happens with the league. A lot of people are a part of it and it could be something big.” The experienced CFL and NFL receiver also said, “A lot of guys need another opportunity outside of the NFL or CFL. If you are a small school guy or even someone who have had troubles being on a team like I’ve had in the past an opportunity like this with a new league is big and with the people involved in the league I can see a lot of success coming out of it.”

On a final note, Jalen Saunders who has spent time in the NFL, CFL and the XFL said, “We need leagues like this. You need more than just the NFL.” The Fan Controlled Football League is exactly what the Football community needs, and as it kicks off on February 13th we will see the growth of it from start to finish.

University of Ottawa Quarterback Wesley Tshimanga looks to “bring all of Canada together” with his platform “Weezy Football”

In Canada within the game of football there aren’t too many people that have really spent time on building a community. Often when you hear of a success story of a Canadian athlete you hear of the help they got from a coach throughout their process but for the most part you as an outsider aren’t given the exact breakdown of how the athlete got to where they are today whether that is division one, CIS or even the professional level. For Ottawa native Wesley Tshimanga, he hopes to change that. Tshimanga signed to play with the University of Ottawa over the summer and has made sure to let people know that his journey wasn’t easy and is also motivating a lot of younger athletes with a platform he created with “Weezy Football.” 

Tshimanga said in an interview with me, “It (my journey) was never easy. Life isn’t easy and with my platform I want to show that I am where I am because of hard work and a lot of other people are in the same boat, it’s time people recognize that hard work is what makes a successful person. That’s what got me to where I am today and I am continuing to do it so I can be proud of the journey I take.”

The journey which “Weezy” is on started on the west side of Ottawa. He started to play football with the Bel Air Lions at the age of 13 in the city league, NCAFA. At the time he was bigger than most of the other kids on his team and was actually on the offensive line to start his football career but he didn’t want to be an offensive lineman for ever, Wesley actually had a vision of being a quarterback at a young age. When he was 15 he wanted to make the change to quarterback, not only because it was what he wanted to do on the field but it gave him the inspiration to lose weight and get stronger as he grew up. When asked about the transition he told me, “It was hard, losing weight was hard and all but even when I lost the weight I wasn’t a good QB so I really had to work on some things. It came to the point where I was very athletic actually but I didn’t know anything about being a quarterback and I wasn’t good at all.” Wesley Tshimanga then took on a responsibility to be the best quarterback he can possibly be. Moving forward he exposed himself to a number of coaches that would get him better starting with Wayne Jacobs who is from Ottawa and then Myles Gibbon who is from Montreal started to get more involved in his progression. The coaches he had early on are coaches that he’s stuck with throughout his football career up to now and without a doubt, having some extra help outside of the staff that he had with the Bel Air Lions or Myers Riders in NCAFA and OVFL went a long way. As I talked with him about the coachings that he had and his early days as an athlete he said, “I was really getting better.” and continued, “It was definitely hard at first to adapt to a new position but when I started getting coached more I got better and it really helped me when I went on to play prep ball.” 

After playing his younger years of football in Ottawa with both the Bel Air Lions where he played offensive line and Myers Riders where he played quarterback, Wesley took on the decision to play at a higher level of football, starting with West Toronto Prep at age 16 and 17, then transferring to Canada Prep in St Catharines, Ontario for his senior year of high school. At Canada Prep, Tshimanga was able to play with and against some of the better players his age from both Canada and the United States. He put himself out there more for recruiting, hoping to achieve the lifetime goal of becoming a division one athlete and even though he wasn’t able to do that himself and he had to settle for the University of Ottawa he has been able to achieve a lot of other goals which he’s set on and off of the field. Yes, of course he now has the opportunity to play at the next level, something he and several other football players strive to do but since he was younger and playing football in Ottawa he’s always wanted to make a change in the football community. Explaining his point Tshimanga broke it down, “In Ottawa, we’re one big city. We have a lot of talent across the city, the west side, the east side and even in the central but a lot of the people seem to be against each other. People in the west side of the city are like enemies to the guys on the east end and it is honestly sad because it ruins a lot of what we could do in the city.” Seeing the potential that the city of Ottawa really has within the game of football, Wesley Tshimanga wanted to help make the change and he wanted to do it in a different way than people have before, creating a platform to bring the city together. Explaining his vision he commented, “There are a lot of people in Ottawa that have helped people out and bring people together like what coach Jean Guillame did in Orleans but there hasn’t been somebody that brought everyone together and I feel like if its the athletes ourselves that can do it, we could make a difference.” 

Hoping to make that difference, he launched his own platform on YouTube, naming it “Weezy Football” and after a few videos posted over the summer of 2020 he has been able to make quite the name for himself on social media and around the city, getting to over 200 subscribers on YouTube and over 2,000 total on other social media platforms. He began to grow a following, but it wasn’t about the views or the followers for him to be satisfied, he said, “I don’t care about if I get a lot of followers or anything like that, I just wanted to make a difference. If I was able to put a smile on at least 5 people’s faces a day because of my work and have them think and say to themselves ‘wow that’s cool, I want to do this’ and that happens 7 days a week for 52 weeks in every year that is a lot of people and a lot of people I can impact, that is what I want out of it and I will do everything I can to achieve that.” Alongside what he’s built on YouTube, posting positive videos, documenting some of the trainings and workouts he does with his friends and teammates Wesley Tshimanga has also been able to build an educational platform on instagram where he’s been able to teach other quarterbacks the basics of how to be a quarterback. His instagram handle is @QB1Football and on there he has posted several different teachings, making other quarterbacks better, while even learning to be a better quarterback himself. He said, “I post a lot of very basic stuff. People have asked me if I ever get tired or bored of posting the same things but I always answer truthfully with a no. Doing all of this, posting stuff on QB1 or even starting Weezy Football I have learnt a lot and I’ve gotten better and I hope to make an impact, getting others better as well.”

Over his journey, making posts on YouTube and on Instagram, Tshimanga has created some buzz and has been able to get noticed by some people fairly high up, including a coach at Duke University at the division one level. Throughout the process he’s been able to do a lot and he is hoping to do even more, including growing his platform and bringing the city of Ottawa’s football to the next level. When asked about the future of Weezy Football and QB1 Football he replied, “Of course I want to grow what I’ve built to the highest level possible, and I even want to try and go international with it, showing my city to the world and doing it in a way that everyone can be a part of it.” 

Moving on with his life, going to the University of Ottawa, Wesley Tshimanga will be battling for the starting quarterback position, but he’ll also be looking to grow his platform off of the field so be sure to watch out for Wesley Tshimanga and his journey.

JZ’s Takeaways #1 ft. Avery Ellis; Redblacks’ newly re-signed defensive lineman Avery Ellis talks about his long off-season, his sports business degree as well as the future he has in Ottawa

Over the last couple of months, the Ottawa Redblacks’ front office led by general manager Marcel Desjardins has been extremely busy. Compared to when the CFL was on lockdown, at least. The team has been bringing in a lot of talent, really getting ready to win the Grey Cup the next time the CFL is back in action, hopefully in May of this year (2021). 

Among the moves made by the front office in Ottawa, and a crucial move for the Redblacks’ defence was bringing back the team’s sack leader from 2019 Avery Ellis. Ellis, at 26 years old has spent three seasons in the CFL now and in 43 career games the defensive end has been disrupting offensive lines and offensive backfields, making a total 98 tackles, 16 sacks, forcing 2 fumbles and scoring one touchdown. It is without a doubt a big signing for the Ottawa Redblacks and will help the team as they return to the CFL in 2021 with a new look. The Redblacks will have a new coaching staff led by both Paul LaPolice and Mike Benevides and a large group of new players as well starring what looks to be Nick Arbuckle, Jalen Saunders, Cleyon Laing and Don Unamba. Having a new look is something a lot of Redblacks fans and players are excited about, including Avery Ellis, “I’m excited.” he said, “Its going to be fun to be a part of a new team. The last season we played didn’t go as we wanted to but now with some new coaches and some new faces in the locker room I think we can definitely make a run for the Grey Cup again.”

Over the span of Ellis’ career, at both Temple University and now the Redblacks’ he’s been faced with change and it won’t affect him too much moving forward. When asked about it he mentioned, “I’m used to some coaching changes, I experienced the change between both Noel Thorpe and Neilson in Ottawa in ’18 and I think Benevides is a great coach to have here so it will make the change easier.” 

For Ellis and the Redblacks it has been well over a year since they have been back on the football field, in action for a CFL game but that doesn’t mean he and his teammates have been just sitting around watching Netflix throughout the past year. Avery Ellis has kept himself busy, getting his Sports Business degree from Temple University and he has also been doing some fun things in the city in Ottawa as well as a lot of cooking . 

Learn more about what Avery Ellis has been doing over the span of the off-season and what he plans to do with his Sports Business degree from Temple in the conversation I had with him this past week. The conversation also features some of Ellis’ opinions and thoughts on the future he has in the CFL with the Redblacks as well as some of his favourite memories at TD Place in Ottawa. 

JZ’s Scouting Reports; Elijah St John, the next big name to come from Ottawa

Here in the city of Ottawa, we’ve been blessed to have some great coaches who are really aiming to better the futures of young football players. There may not be a lot of coaches like this in the city, though we are starting to see more and more as the days go by and I believe it all goes back to the coaches that have started the tradition, a few in the modern era would be both Coach Jean Guillaume of St Matthews, but one that has been in the city a little longer would be Victor Tedondo. Tedondo has been coaching athletes since he can remember, and he’s been coaching athletes with a purpose, to make them great athletes, but also to make them great human beings and students. Talking to Victor about what he’s done, starting Gridiron Academy, coaching NCAFA and just recently launching Uplift 613 he said, “I had a vision when I first started, and I’ve stuck to it.” and continued, “I coach football players in the gym and on the field a lot and sure I want the best for their football careers, whether its going division one or CIS or even some guys to go professionally but that doesn’t mean I don’t help them off the field too. I’ve been a big supporter of school and life skills and I make sure to coach and teach the athletes to be the best versions of themselves off of the field and outside of the gym as well.” Coaching players and teaching them to be the best they can be is something that Victor Tedondo has been able to do, and with help from his wife Charmaine he’s had a lot of success doing just that. He is now at a point in his coaching career where he is starting to see players go the NFL and CFL route, starting with one of the first athletes he trained in Eli Ankou who is now with the Dallas Cowboys and there looks to be a lot more players in the near future with similar opportunities as Ankou. One player that is among the players that could have an opportunity like Ankou, and one that should be looked at is 11th grade defensive lineman Elijah St John. 

Sportsnet on Twitter: "O Canada. 🇨🇦🙌 Eli Ankou, Neville Gallimore,  Tyrone Crawford and Chase Claypool all played in Sunday's  @steelers-@dallascowboys game. 👏 (📸: @Path2Greatwork)…  https://t.co/77itVSlY0m"

Though St John may not be 6-foot-3, 325 pounds and with the Dallas Cowboys like Eli Ankou is, he does deserve some kind of recognition. At 6-foot-3, 244 pounds St John is one of the fastest defensive linemen in the city of Ottawa and one of the most athletic as well. When talking to his coach, Tedondo about Elijah he had said, “He’s and extremely good athlete. There is no doubting that the talent is there, his speed is all natural and he was born with a lot, he was really given a gift athletically,” but Tedondo had also said, “He just hasn’t fulfilled the full talent that he has. If he does he will be a very scary player though.” Tedondo has coached Elijah and known him since he was young and if you would ask him he knows him more than any other coach and Tedondo has had his fair share of defensive linemen over the last while and the ones that have had success have all caught Elijah’s eyes and some have also helped him as a football player. Elijah St John told me in an interview, “For watching film, or just watching football, I don’t just watch what everyone else watches, I watch the players from Ottawa. Guys like Neville Gallimore, Eli Ankou, Kiki Mesidor and Rene Konga are guys I either watch film on or watch in person.” The players named, for the most part have been able to help Elijah and other football players in Ottawa, whether you train with Victor Tedondo at Gridiron Academy or not you would know what exactly the culture is like in Ottawa for football. The players give back to the city once they make it and its really great to see, it has been something that has helped Elijah and will continue to help, because it is truly the domino effect. 

The domino effect in Ottawa, the players continuously giving back in the community, whether it’s through charities which we’ve seen a lot or even coaching which is more popular, seems to affect a lot of people in a positive way. When talking about the players he watches or in this case the players that coach him, Elijah St John had mentioned, “Its really cool to see that (Eli Ankou) he is from exactly where I am and when he comes and coaches it is really awesome because he is where I want to be in the future and I can ask him things and it really helps me as a player for my future.”

As for his future, Elijah St John wants to play football at the highest level possible, and the next step for him would be university which he hopes to go on scholarship for, “The ability to have schooling all paid for by the University or College is a dream for sure. It would take a lot of stress away from my parents and I hope to be able to accomplish that through football.” It may seem easy when you see a lot of people achieve the goal of getting a division one scholarship, though its really hard and it will be hard for Elijah to go through that process. Victor Tedondo commented, “Its tough to go to the NCAA, if he wants to do it he’s got to have a work ethic to do so, and you really have to work nonstop. For Elijah he already has natural talent which is great, but if he can build on his work ethic he can be a scary player on the field.” A scary player on the field is everything a coach at the next level could ask for, and Elijah in the small opportunities he’s had, he’s been able to show exactly what kind of player he is and what kind of player he can be. In Ottawa, Elijah has played in NCAFA with both the Nepean Redskins and the Myers Riders, with the Riders he was able to be coached by Scott Boxall who has also been the coach of the eastern Ontario OPC team in past years. He has also played with the Ottawa Sooners in OPFL and most recently with his high school Mother Teresa all while training with Victor at Gridiron Academy. Playing football since he was young, he’s always been a great athlete, really being a star player on both sides of the ball on offense and on defense, a reason why today he can be so dominate on the defensive line, “I played running back,” said Elijah, “I have played a lot of different positions in football and it’s fun getting to know different positions and it makes me better and more understanding of the game too.”

Being more understanding of the game of football is awesome to see and its very important in the game of football to have a good I.Q, for Elijah being able to understand that is great for himself and the future he may have in football. When talking to CFL defensive stud Christophe Mulumba about playing different positions on the field and the importance of football I.Q he states, “If you play other positions, you are going to have an advantage on others, let alone if you played on the other side of the ball. You will know more about what goes through the head of one on the offensive side and that will make you smarter as a football player, you will be able to read plays quicker and if you can read plays and you are on the defensive line, you are a game changer.” A game changer indeed, Mulumba’s point is 100% correct and versatile players like St John are becoming more and more popular in football and versatile players are always fun to watch. In the NFL you have guys like Hasaan Reddick or Khalil Mack who are edge rushers with tons of speed, and now on the come up is Elijah St John. 

JZ’s Scouting Reports; Eben Dibula; a “disruptive” run stopper looking to make a difference for Bethune Cookman in 2021

At the defensive tackle position we have seen a continuous change in a lot of things. The size of the athletes playing the position has changed a lot but so has their abilities. A few players that really show that change at the position would be both Vince Wilfork and William Perry who you would now call an old school nose guard and now athletes like Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins who demonstrate the new athletic and fast defensive tackles. Being able to really see and be a part of the change, look at the recent players that have come out of the city of Ottawa for an example. There are only two players from the city of Ottawa in the NFL right now, both on the defensive line and both Eli Ankou and Neville Gallimore are fast for their size. Both weighing in over 300 pounds each, the two are surprisingly quick, Ankou has explosive speed off of the ball and shows his ability to stop the run efficiently while Gallimore can stop the run and rush the passer, running an eye popping 4.7 40 yard dash. What you see in Gallimore, and all of the other names listed whether it’s Aaron Donald or Geno Atkins, is exactly what you want at the defensive tackle position these days. They all show the basics and all of the fundamentals but also the speed and quickness which helps them play in today’s NFL. Among the group of players that can compare to these NFL stars and a great player on the come up from Ottawa is Eben Dibula. 

Standing at 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, Eben Dibula shows a lot of speed and quickness which helps his pass rush ability while using his size to plug run gaps, making himself a newer style interior defensive lineman. “He’s big so they’re going to put him on the line.” said Ottawa Redblacks nose guard Michael Wakefield, “but when you watch him you can tell that he is a great player. He moves fast for his size and he also does a good job of using his hands and can get away from the blockers very well.” Being fast for his size, showing his 4.9 (40 time) speed while being on the defensive line along with everything that Wakefield mentioned while watching the film on Dibula you can tell he’s very fundamentally polished and it all came through years of playing football. Playing football now for nearly a decade, Eben Dibula started playing in NCAFA, a community league in Ottawa for the Bell Warriors where he was able to play a number of snaps, really learning the game of football and having some success on the way, winning Defensive Lineman of the year in 2011 and 2013. When asked about starting to play football he said, “I was a big kid so everyone told me I should play football and when I did I fell in love with the game. Having the chance to play a sport where I can use my size as an advantage and building the relationships with the friends I have now, it’s been great and football has been something that has brought me to an understanding of what I want to do in the future.”

Moving forward into the future, Dibula began to work on his craft and got more serious about the game of football. Starting off with a season at Garneau High School in Orleans and also when he moved to the East end of Ottawa he started to play with other teams in NCAFA, both the Orleans Bengals and the Orleans Raftsman all the way up to 2018 and just from meeting people and being around the game of football in Ottawa he heard a lot about other footballs that he could go to for an improvement in his craft but also his future in football. Not only did he start hearing about it but Ebenezer Dibula had also committed to it all. He ended up going to St Matthews High School in Orleans which at the time was starting to grow as a football school and with help from coach Jean Guillaume the school was well known and had a great reputation. That reputation, mostly from the number of players that go to the next level from St Matthews was the main reason for Dibula and other players to transfer schools, “Just seeing that I could have a future in football was amazing.” said Eben Dibula, “Football is something I love and its been a great sport to play and for me seeing that I could go high up with it. Have free schooling from it and even maybe a job in the future I had to go to St Matts.”

Going to St Matthews, Ebenezer Dibula was exposed to a football culture in the making. Just a few years after coming to St Matthews himself, Jean Guillaume as he took over for the head coaching role created a great football program at St Matthews, having players go next level in both NCAA and the CIS but most importantly Jean was a life coach, aiming to help his athletes off the field as much as he does on in. When asked more about being coached by Guillaume, Eben commented, “He is by far the best coach I’ve had and I’m sure other players can agree as well. He helps us a lot as football players, he makes us ready to play at the next level but he also helps us in school and in life.” he then continued to say, “Coach Jean has been a father figure for some players and you can tell because he cares about everyone and being able to be coached by him really has impacted my life and I’m grateful to have had some opportunities from him as well.” 

Jean himself said, “He’s very tough mentally, he’s gone through a lot of adversity. He has the exact mentality that you want on the defensive side of the ball, he is a player that is very unselfish and will do everything you want him to.”

In just the one season he played as a part of the St Matthews Tigers in 2019, Dibula turned heads, playing on both sides of the ball, offensive and defensive line and made an impact on both sides. He was named the best defensive lineman on the team but he was also awarded All-City for both Offensive Line and Defensive Line by the Ottawa HIgh School Football League, the same league who from just one season with St Matthews awarded him a spot on the All-Decade offensive line. All of the awards and accolades that he has received over time is great to look back on for him now but it also shows the dominance he had and still has on the football field. That dominance was most recently shown in the states where Sports Illustrated All American writer John Garcia was able to watch him and see enough to say, “He is a great player.” and “You can tell that he has played on the offensive line as well because he does a great job reading the plays and given his size and speed it shows that he can read plays effectively.” The season he played in the states was at Clearwater Academy international, a school that Jean Guillaume of St Matthews has coached at and his players are very familiar with. Dibula went to Clearwater Academy International to have an opportunity at a division one scholarship and he got it. Though he didn’t have any offers going into the season and his name wasn’t blasted all over throughout the season, Dibula did get one offer and he signed to it just a few days after receiving the offer. When he talks about playing in Florida and having his offer Dibula said, “It only takes one person to see me and I went to Florida to have that one person see me. I played a full season against top ranked players across the border and I felt like I did enough to get a few opportunities. I didn’t get a lot of opportunities but it all goes back to the one person mentality and that one person for me was from Bethune Cookman.” 

Ebenezer Dibula ended up signing to play at the University of Bethune Cookman and will be fulfilling his dreams of playing division one football alongside other Ottawa native Benjamin Chombe who signed to play there last year but because of the Pandemic he wasn’t able to play just yet. 

Stay tuned and watch Eben Dibula go on to play at the next level at Bethune Cookman now and be sure to follow his journey to the NFL.

JZ’s Scouting Reports; Lliam Horrocks, using his technique and fundamentals to better his game

In the game of football versatility is key. If you have the ability to play multiple positions or if you have a history of playing different positions you have an advantage over several athletes and among the players that have that advantage is Ottawa’s Lliam Horrocks. You can now find him on the defensive line at defensive end, though Horrocks also has history at outside linebacker which helps him get the upper hand on some other defensive linemen in Ottawa, making him a part of JZ’s Scouting Reports best defensive linemen list. 

Lliam Horrocks has been playing football since he was a kid growing up in Ottawa with the Orleans Bengals in NCAFA, a league that has introduced the game of football to a number of division one and CIS athletes. With the Bengals, like the most part of his teammates, Horrocks was able to get his first exposure to the game of football. He had the chance to play football for the first time, was able to learn the fundamentals and most importantly he found a love for the game of football. Not only did he learn a lot and find a love for the game, but he was able to put it all together and have some success on the field. In just one of his first years playing, in 2014 Lliam won the Orleans Bengals Defensive Player Of The Year, really finding out how to be disruptive on the defensive side of the ball. After playing a few years of NCAFA football, Horrocks took his football career a little more serious. The linebacker (at the time) started to workout more with trainers in Ottawa, attend camps outside of Ottawa and also put himself against some of the better talent he can get in front of.

For him, the best talent he could get in front of was at the high school level in Ottawa. Horrocks played with Franco Cité High School in Ottawa from grade 7 through 9, playing against and with some of the better players in the city of Ottawa, though his big opportunity came following his 9th grade season at Franco Cité when he was approached by Saint James High School in Hagerstown, Maryland. The High School in Maryland, Lliam Horrocks and his family each made a decision which would better a future, and just the following year Horrocks was playing football south of the border. Playing at Saint James, of course it helps in recruiting and it shows that Horrocks played against some known talent in his High School career but also gave Lliam Horrocks a great experience. He had the chance to get coached by a number of great coaches who have brought numerous players to the division one level, Horrocks was able to match his talent up against the talent he played against in the USA, but most importantly he had a great learning experience, being on the same roster of a few players, most specifically a few canadians that went the same route he aims to go, playing division one football. He said himself, “My 9th grade year at Saint James I was lucky enough to play with John Metchie, who later committed to Alabama. I learned a lot from a lot of good role models at Saint James.” A lot of people now know who John Metchie is because of the time he spent across the border, playing high school ball at Saint James and that is something that Lliam Horrocks noticed himself, that he could be exposed more in the states. Noticing just that, Horrocks stayed in Maryland, playing a whole 3 seasons across the border with Saint James school, two of the 3 seasons he was able to play a good amount of snaps, really fitting in on the defensive side of the ball but right as he was getting into his groove at St James, the Covid-19 Pandemic began. 

For him, the best talent he could get in front of was at the high school level in Ottawa. Horrocks played with Franco Cité High School in Ottawa from grade 7 through 9, playing against and with some of the better players in the city of Ottawa, though his big opportunity came following his 9th grade season at Franco Cité when he was approached by Saint James High School in Hagerstown, Maryland. The High School in Maryland, Lliam Horrocks and his family each made a decision which would better a future, and just the following year Horrocks was playing football south of the border. Playing at Saint James, of course it helps in recruiting and it shows that Horrocks played against some known talent in his High School career but also gave Lliam Horrocks a great experience. He had the chance to get coached by a number of great coaches who have brought numerous players to the division one level, Horrocks was able to match his talent up against the talent he played against in the USA, but most importantly he had a great learning experience, being on the same roster of a few players, most specifically a few canadians that went the same route he aims to go, playing division one football. He said himself, “My 9th grade year at Saint James I was lucky enough to play with John Metchie, who later committed to Alabama. I learned a lot from a lot of good role models at Saint James.” A lot of people now know who John Metchie is because of the time he spent across the border, playing high school ball at Saint James and that is something that Lliam Horrocks noticed himself, that he could be exposed more in the states. Noticing just that, Horrocks stayed in Maryland, playing a whole 3 seasons across the border with Saint James school, two of the 3 seasons he was able to play a good amount of snaps, really fitting in on the defensive side of the ball but right as he was getting into his groove at St James, the Covid-19 Pandemic began. 

Going into what would have been his senior season and his fourth season at Saint James, Horrocks was set to have a big role on the defense. The three previous seasons he was growing as a player, and he was really in for a big 2020 season with the team he knew so much, though unfortunately due to the Pandemic and the Covid-19 spread Saint James was forced to cancel their 2020 season, taking Lliam Horrocks’ senior season out of the window, at least at Saint James that is. Eventhough Saint James wasn’t going to have a season, Horrocks made sure he’d be able to get one last shot at his dream, getting a division one offer. Lliam ended up transferring to Cocoa High School in Cocoa, Florida and had the chance to play on an 10 win Tigers team, who also were named among the top 20 schools in the state of Florida. Being on a team so talented and having future division one athletes around Horrocks on the defense, it was tough for Horrocks to fit in at linebacker, though the coaches and him found an alternative. Being a little bigger than the average linebacker, standing at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds  Horrocks was later found as an edge, playing his first ever snaps on the defensive line. 

It may have been tough for him to adapt right away but he was able to find a way he can showcase his skill in a way other defensive linemen have trouble with. He used his speed. At linebacker he wasn’t always the fastest player, he used his techniques to make up for it, though on the defensive line he demonstrates a lot of quickness. Ottawa Redblacks defensive lineman Michael Wakefield even said while watching film on Horrocks, “He can get to the quarterback fast if he needs to. You can tell he is one step ahead of other ends and his ability to read plays is good too.” When asked about playing different positions and how that may help on the defensive line Wakefield also says, “If you played linebacker which (Lliam) did you should have a better understanding of runs and passes and even you would know coverage better than the typical defensive lineman as well. It helps a lot if you can move fast enough which he (Horrocks) can so he can use it to his advantage.”

It may have been tough for him to adapt right away but he was able to find a way he can showcase his skill in a way other defensive linemen have trouble with. He used his speed. At linebacker he wasn’t always the fastest player, he used his techniques to make up for it, though on the defensive line he demonstrates a lot of quickness. Ottawa Redblacks defensive lineman Michael Wakefield even said while watching film on Horrocks, “He can get to the quarterback fast if he needs to. You can tell he is one step ahead of other ends and his ability to read plays is good too.” When asked about playing different positions and how that may help on the defensive line Wakefield also says, “If you played linebacker which (Lliam) did you should have a better understanding of runs and passes and even you would know coverage better than the typical defensive lineman as well. It helps a lot if you can move fast enough which he (Horrocks) can so he can use it to his advantage.”

Using his history at linebacker to his advantage is exactly what Horrocks has been doing over the course of his career and now at the stage which he is at in his career he is looking to showcase exactly what he can do on a big stage, preferably the division one level. Horrocks said when talking about what he does differently than others, “I would say what sets me aside is my will and perseverance. Even though I’m not the strongest or fastest guy on the field I still find ways to make plays, get to the ball, and get to the QB.” he also said, “I model a part of my game after TJ Watt, I am not the strongest or the fastest but I get stuff done.” Getting stuff done at the next level is what Horrocks hopes to do, and everyone should stay tuned for exactly that as he  moves forward with his football career. 

JZ’s Scouting Reports; Nate Martey, “I try to model my game after the best”

In the city of Ottawa there are a lot of great football players. From tyke all the way to the NFL, from quarterback to kicker, there’s a lot of talent around the city and more recently than ever we have seen a lot at the defensive line position. There has now been 3 defensive linemen from Ottawa to go to the NFL in the past decade with Christo Bilukidi, Eli Ankou and Neville Gallimore, creating a lot of opportunity and making dreams seem reachable for the younger generations. Among the younger generation and an athlete that we may see in the NFL with Gallimore come a few years is Nate Martey. 

Martey is proven to be one of the best defensive linemen in the city of Ottawa, standing at 6-foot-1, 285 pounds he is a very athletic nose guard on the rise and needs all eyes on him moving forward with his football career. That career, which started in 9th grade at St. Peters High School in Orleans, Ontario will be making a stop at Princeton University in New Jersey, USA this year, on the way to the NFL. Although that journey may seem super easy to make, for Martey has worked for every opportunity that has and will come his way. 

After starting to play football at St. Peters in Grade 9, Nate Martey found a love for the game of football and although he wasn’t the best player he knew he had to improve and he did just that. “I wasn’t good. I started playing linebacker and being as big as I was it wasn’t the best position for me to play but when I started to get more into football and I did more to get better in another position it became fun to play.” Beginning to play more football and the main reason for the change of position to the defensive line came from well known Ottawa coach and trainer at Gridiron Academy Victor Tedondo who says, “He told me that he was a linebacker and right away I told him that he was a defensive lineman. Nate is a very athletic kid but he’s too big at linebacker and given his athleticism it makes him a good defensive lineman.” Although the interaction between both Victor and Nate regarding position was the first football interaction, they actually knew each other ahead of this and Tedondo tried to get Martey to play football for the Orleans Bengals way before he started playing at St Peters. When he mentioned the story Victor Tedondo said, “Nate was actually one of my neighbors when he was a kid. He helped deliver the paper and every few times I saw him I remember asking him if he’d play football for the team I was coaching in NCAFA. He always said he was a basketball kid but he did end up playing later on and it all went well for him.”

Martey started training with Tedondo at Gridiron Academy in high school after his second full season playing competitively with the Cumberland Panthers and saw a lot of growth early on, “His progression has been amazing.” said Victor Tedondo, “He has grown as much mentally as he has physically and he has become a great athlete. I saw it when he was playing in Ottawa and seeing him train, it was just great to see.” From training with Gridiron Academy and playing more with the Cumberland Panthers in NCAFA and OPFL, Nate has continued to grow and get better. He said himself, “I didn’t play the first year that I was in OPFL with the Panthers but when I started training I made plays all over the field and it made me think more about the future I could have in football.” Martey continued, “At first I wasn’t thinking about going anywhere for football, I didn’t even think it was possible but training with Vic and when I got better I realized that those division one and football dreams were possible and I was getting closer to them.”

Getting closer to the dream of playing division one football and continuing to get better as a football player, Martey was given the opportunity to play football with and against some of the best players, not only in Canada but in the USA as well. In 2018 he started playing at the Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada also known as “Canada Prep” which is also the same school that Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore had gone to before attending Oklahoma University. Going to Canada Prep only helped Martey for the future, getting him better as a football player and adjusting to the lifestyle as a division one athlete and he was even able to showcase what he is about as a football player. In that 2018 season, playing a full American schedule he was able to make 30 tackles, 18 tackles for loss as well as 4 sacks. Although he didn’t have any offers at the time he was just starting to have his name break the surface and after just four football seasons in Canada he had his mind set on the future. “I remember my very first offer. We went to the Grand Valley State camp, it was June 2nd in 2019 just before I was going to go to Loomis (Chaffee School, Windsor Connecticut) and a coach from Central Michigan pulled me aside and offered me.” said Nate Martey, “The first offer is something I’ll always remember because of the way it opened my eyes for more opportunities.” The next opportunity for Martey was something he didn’t have to wait too long for. He was given the opportunity to play a full season across the border with an American school in Connecticut, Loomis Chaffee High School and this is something you see a lot of football players from Canada, more specifically from Ottawa do. Playing football in the USA gives you more exposure to scouts at the next level, something that Victor Tedondo of Gridiron Academy is very familiar with, “We’ve had a lot of guys go (south of the border) and have success so it was good to get him that opportunity and see his progression continue.” said Tedondo who has coached several athletes to the next level, including Dallas Cowboys’ Eli Ankou. 

Of course the change to playing in the states could be tough to adapt to, though Martey didn’t have too many difficulties himself. In eight games across the border Nate Martey made a name for himself with 63 tackles to his name along with 40 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, and 3 fumbles (2 forced, 1 recovered), putting his all into every snap he played and showing all of the University scouts exactly who he is. After the season and over the span of the long off-season due to the Coronavirus Pandemic Martey has received multiple offers from division one schools, giving him a total 20 division one offers. 

Although you can look at his journey from the outside looking in and think it was easy, there are many reasons why Nate Martey deserves the opportunities that he has and will be getting in the future. Martey has been taught nothing but hard work and he’s done everything he can to be a bigger, stronger, faster and better football player, even trying to model his game after some of the best defensive linemen out there, “I look at a lot of guys of my size that are quick.” said Martey, “Watching the NFL there are a lot of great players out there and I tend to watch the most of guys like Geno Atkins, Ed Oliver, Aaron Donald and then I also have been one to watch the guys that I know. Guys that I’ve played with or even for some of them that have coached me too.” 

“At Gridiron Academy it is really a family. Once you’ve trained with me you become a part of the Alumni group and it’s really awesome because when these guys that have gone division one and they come back here they come to the gym and help the younger guys.” Victor Tedondo added, “Eli Ankou and Christo Bilukidi are two defensive linemen that have helped out some guys here and it’s always good to see because you can tell that the kids are getting better.”

Nate Martey’s support group, with all of the coaches he has is something that has helped himself and several others in the city of Ottawa and when talking about having help like Martey has had at a young age, Ottawa Redblacks defensive tackle Michael Wakefield had mentioned, “Its something I wish I had more of when I was growing up and playing football. Mentorship is key in football and its awesome that he was able to have that growing up in Ottawa, it has helped him out a lot.” he also continued and said, “As a big player, he has fast and great footwork, he uses his hands which is great and overall he can plug the run gaps and pass rush which is exactly what you want out of an interior defensive lineman. If he continues to get stronger I’m sure he will have success at the next level.”

Nate Martey’s support group, with all of the coaches he has is something that has helped himself and several others in the city of Ottawa and when talking about having help like Martey has had at a young age, Ottawa Redblacks defensive tackle Michael Wakefield had mentioned, “Its something I wish I had more of when I was growing up and playing football. Mentorship is key in football and its awesome that he was able to have that growing up in Ottawa, it has helped him out a lot.” he also continued and said, “As a big player, he has fast and great footwork, he uses his hands which is great and overall he can plug the run gaps and pass rush which is exactly what you want out of an interior defensive lineman. If he continues to get stronger I’m sure he will have success at the next level.”

Playing at the next level, Nate Martey has committed to Princeton University, being one of just a few athletes from Ottawa getting the chance to go to an Ivy League school for free, “The whole free schooling is a blessing,” said Martey “Not only will I be able to showcase my skills on the field and help out the football team but I’m going to be getting the best education I possibly can. I’m excited to have this opportunity.”