Over the last two years I have been continuously working on being the best I can be. Whether it is writing articles for my Ottawa Redblacks website which I started in April of 2019, doing interviews with CFL players like Sherrod Baltimore and Jonathan Rose, filming videos, editing documentaries or even talking on podcasts and sports shows I make sure to be the best I can be. I have played football since I was 6 years old and from playing sports as a kid and just in life in general I’ve built a very competitive mindset where I want to accomplish a lot in life. To make that happen, I have to obviously continue to work on my craft and I have to create opportunities for myself as well.
Among the recent opportunities I have had over the last while is an amazing opportunity to be able to sit down with “The Route” Sports Business Podcast host Christopher Nascimento. Nascimento, owner of White Whale Marketing has accomplished a lot himself and I was thrilled to talk to him about my “Route” to where I am today, look back at some of my favourite moments over my short career so far as well as talk about some projects I’ve worked on and will be working on.
Its proven that the city of Ottawa has some great defensive backs and when you think of the position you would look at guys like Katley Joseph, Patrice Rene, Nate Hamlin, Tunde Adeleke or the CIS guys like AK Ismail just because they’ve already proved themselves and are at a high level, though some of the best defensive backs in Ottawa are still at the high school level. Of course you would go with the division one players and players that have played in the states first like Shakespeare Louis, Josh Baka and Nathan Casimir but behind all of those names there’s Etienne Hachokake. Hachokake stands at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and is easily the tallest defensive back in Ottawa. He’s got the athletic ability to play anywhere on the field, whether its receiver, defensive end, or in this case today defensive back and that’s what makes him so special.
At the defensive back position, you want a complete player. As a coach or a scout you look for a player that can go into coverage, attack the run and blitz on the odd occasion as well, when you look at Etienne Hachokake’s film he can do all of that and with his size, more. When asked about him, a former teammate at St Matthew’s Shakespeare Louis (Robert Morris University signee) had commented, “His length is crazy. When you look at him play against some receivers that are average height, like 5’11, 6-foot he towers over them and the best part about it is that he is just getting started.” By that comment, “just getting started” Louis is talking about how Hachokake is learning more and more about the game of football as the days go by. His first season didn’t come until his 9th grade year when he attended Garneau Catholic High School, the same school that now University of North Carolina defensive back Patrice Rene went to. Touching on the season he played at the school, he said, “It was a good experience, it was my first exposure to the sport.”
It may have been his first exposure, but he didn’t want to make it his last. Hachokake ended up transferring to College Mer Bleue in Orleans where, “I had a coach that took a chance on me and my teammates, (both division one athletes now) Shakespeare Louis and Eben Dibula helped me fall in love with the game of football.” At Mer Bleue, he started to learn more about the game of football and was introduced to some teammates who he’d transfer to St Matthews with later.
“I’ll be forever thankful for (my coach taking a chance on him) and just learning more as I played at Mer Bleue helped a lot. I was mostly (benched) at Garneau so to have the opportunity to play was great.”
Not only did playing at Mer Bleue help him understand more, but he also improved and wanted to keep improving. Heading into his 12 grade year, Etienne Hachokake took a chance on himself, transferring to St Matthews, where he played with his Mer Bleue teammates Shakespeare Louis and Ebenezer Dibula but more importantly, he had the opportunity to be coached by Ottawa legend Jean Sorphia Guillaume.
At St Matthews, Hachokake kickstarter his football career. Of course, he started in Grade 9 at Garneau but playing alongside future division one talent like Louis, Dibula, Alex Vilain, and Nathan Casimir, being coached by the best and on top of that having more playing time going to St Matthews gave him a better look at the sport, a look for the future. The school has been the home of several division one and CIS football players over the last decade, and with help from coach Jean Sorphia Guillaume, being able to go division one or to the CIS level seems reachable. In Etienne’s words he says, “For me the sky’s the limit, I am just now developing as a football player and I’ve got a great group of people around me. If I continue to work, anything is possible from here on out.”
With all of that being said, Hachokake’s goal, without a doubt is to play at the division one and of course to get to that point he has to continue working but he will be a steal for whichever program goes out and gets him.
As you take a deeper look at Etienne Hachokake, of course the height is what sticks out, standing at 6-foot-3 it is clear that he will have the height advantage over the majority of receivers but he also has a lot of great features to add to his length. Starting off, he has the ability to play across the board. He is able to play at cornerback, safety, halfback, and even go into different other positions like on the defensive line, at wide-out if he can adapt and learn them. Along with his flexibility and seeing how versatile he can be, at defensive back alone he can stay being a stud and be a rare player because of his height, “He’s a long and patient defensive back. He is mostly at corner as he uses his height to gain advantage on receivers.” said Katley Joseph, former St Matthews defensive back and current division one athlete, “He’s able to deflect the ball, and attack the ball in the air as well. Etienne can use his size to get physical with the receivers.”
To match what defensive back Katley Joseph, Coach Jean Guillaume had also touched on what Etienne Hachokake can do on the football field saying, “At first I was disappointed. He is the proto-type defensive back and he is the exact player every coach would like to have on their defense but he wasn’t taught the fundamentals. He played at a couple teams before coming to play for us and it was sad to see that he didn’t know the easiest of things, but after a little while of him being with us I was able to coach him up and looking at him today he has improved a lot and he continues to.”
Guillaume also comments, “While he gets better, you can tell just how good of a player Etienne can be and that player is every coach’s dream. He shows up to every practice, every team event and training, he is very coachable and wants to be the best player of his ability.” Though he has only played a couple years of football and still has room to improve he has shown several sparks of the player he can be for a team and Guillaume is extremely happy with that player. He said, “What sticks out the most is his height. He is 6 foot 3, and thats not a 6’2 and a half, nor is it a 6’3 with cleats on, its a real 6’3 and he knows exactly how to use his size on the field. He has improved a lot in going into coverage, and as a defensive back that is a big part of the position, though he also has the ability to attack the corners on runs as well as play across the field as a safety and I’m sure he can also play another position as well. To see glimpses of what he can do has been great and it is clear that wherever he goes, he will be a great player at the next level and if he continues to grow as a player he can be a steal.”
Going into this past 2010-2020 decade, there hadn’t been too much noise surrounding the football being played in the city of Ottawa but now the amount of publicity for it is over the top. The sport is continuously growing in the city and so is the talent. You now see Ottawa natives all over the game of football, at the pro and university level and one player that you will be hearing a lot of in the future is Sacred Heart commit Josh Baka. Baka, a 6-foot-1, 185 pound defensive back announced his commitment to Sacred Heart University in early November of last year and can easily be mentioned in conversation on who the best dbs are in his age group from Ottawa.
With that being said, why is Josh Baka in these talks and what makes him so special?
Well to start off, he knows the game. Baka has been around the game of football since he was young, playing for the North Gloucester Giants in NCAFA in the year 2011 he was just starting to play though not taking a single year off since he’s learnt a lot. As a defensive back, there are several different jobs that could be assigned to you on the field and with all of Josh Baka’s time around the game it’s shown that he can take on those assignments. Whether it’s playing man, zone, being a spy in the backfield, blitzing, playing in the slot or even deep at safety you can count on him, a good friend and now Robert Morris signee Shakespeare Louis had even commented, “He’s very versatile and has proved he can play across the board.”
Playing across the board is exactly what coaches at the next level love to see and just seeing what Baka has done in the past just gives more reason to why he is going to be a stud at Robert Morris. Through his time in NCAFA with the Giants he was such an asset to all of the teams he played on that he won an award in 3 of the 5 seasons he played with the team. Winning one defensive MVP award as well as two overall MVP awards. Although he was just young at the time, the early success only helped him as he got older. Starting to play more competitively and with talent around the province he played for the OPFL’s Ottawa Sooners in 2017, the Ottawa Raftsmen in 2018 and then from all of his hard work from off-season trainings with Victor Tedondo from Gridiron Academy and going to several showcases and camps he was awarded the opportunity to play across the border.
In 2019 he played his first season with St Thomas More in Oakdale, Connecticut. On the year he was able to make his presence felt alongside other Ottawa star and now UCLA linebacker Kenny Mestidor, being voted in as a top 10 player in Connecticut, being just 1 of 2 defensive backs on the list. The season spent in the states only showed more of what he could do as a player, and showed that he could play with players at a high level with some of his opponents going to the division one stage as well.
As a football player that wants to play at a high level you have to be talked about and for Josh Baka being in the states and proving that he could play past NCAFA or OPFL gave him more reason to be talked about. Of course having the nod on the top 10 list in Connecticut helped him out a lot but the successful 7 and 1 season in 2019 also helped him land a spot on the CFC 100 list in Canada, and then of course in the states getting looks from Sports Illustrated All-American, Rivals, 247-Sports and even the University of Michigan with “thewolverine.com”.
All of the articles and the profiles posted on well known sites about Josh had given him not only hope but more of a concrete look into his future. He was approached by more opportunities because of the recognition he had gotten and as in “opportunities” I mean offers. During his recruiting period he was offered scholarships from Indiana, Syracuse Buffalo, The University of Massachusetts, Monmouth, Albany and Wagner though he ended up committing to Sacred Heart University in November of last year. The University seemed to have been the best fit for Baka, and if you take just the quickest look you’d know that they’re getting a big time player out of him and he will be able to make big time plays in their defensive backfield.
He’s proved himself a lot over the last while. From playing his heart out here in Ottawa playing with the North Gloucester Giants and Ottawa Raftsmen as well as in the states with St Thomas More, though to top it off he has gotten some praise from the media, former teammates, division one athletes and coaches. To start off, last year 247-Sports covered what he’d done at “The Best Of The Midwest” combine, quoting, “2021 cornerback Joshua Baka was a smooth defensive back that blanketed receivers downfield.”
Ironically, coaching Baka at the 2020 Best Of Midwest Combine was well known Ottawa coach Jean Sorphia Guillaume who says, “You could tell he is physical with the receiver, and at the combine the receivers actually were avoiding to go against him. He does have to work on a few things but other than that he could have won MVP of the showcase.”
As coach Jean Guillaume had continued and talked more about what he sees in Josh Baka as a player on film and through personal experience he had commented, “Josh is a very good defensive back. You can tell on film that he is able to do a lot for a defense. He can go out and play out wide at cornerback as well as go into the two safety positions at free safety and strong safety, though wherever he does play he is always the same player. One that can go into coverage, man or zone and attack the run. All of that is anything you would ask out of a db, to have a complete player and to top it all of you are able to see just how physical he can be and helpful he can be on a defense.”
Through writing these 5 pieces on Ottawa’s best defensive backs, I personally have learnt more about the talent that the city has at the position and there’s no better way to conclude the list than write about if not the most underrated player at his position, Denny Ferdinand. On the list I created, I recognized that I have written about players that most people know about, players that have played in the states and have already created a name for themselves in the city of Ottawa. Though, the last two players, both Etienne Hachokake and Denny Ferdinand are players who have the ability to play at a high level but either have more work to do to get there, or haven’t gotten enough looks.
As for Denny Ferdinand, it’s proven that he is a stud on the field, standing at 5 foot, 11 inches and 170 pounds he is an averaged sized american football defensive back but he doesn’t play like an average defensive back. Since starting to play football at 7 years old with the Kanata Knights in NCAFA, Ferdinand has been a defensive playmaker. With the Knights he was able to win two defensive MVP awards as well as a coaches choice MVP award. He played with the Kanata Knights until he was 17 years old, although while playing in NCAFA, the National Capital Amateur Football Association he was able to play for other teams as well, where he had the opportunity to play against more competition. Other teams he played for consisted of both the Myers Riders in OVFL and Ottawa Sooners of the OPFL. With the two teams, he was able to play against the best players in the province of Ontario. Future teammate of Denny Ferdinand, and one that played OVFL himself, Alain Cimankinda had commented, “OVFL was big. In Ottawa if you played OVFL you were one of the best in the city simply because of who you were playing against. You would have guys around the province, and if you won you would play against teams around the country. It was all around a great league to play in.” After the time he spent in OVFL with the Myers Riders, at 14 years old he started up shop with the newly added Ottawa Sooners of the new OPFL. He ended up playing with his brother, Kaseem Ferdinand until he was 17 in the OPFL, and with the Sooners he was able to make a large impact, having nearly 40 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 4 total touchdowns in his most recent season where he was also named defensive MVP for the team.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, Ferdinand hasn’t been able to play since he was 17, last year with the Kanata Knights but that past season signified exactly what kind of player he is and so has all of the training he’s done in the past year. In the 2019 NCAFA season, he made well over 30 tackles, intercepted 13 passes and scored 2 touchdowns, proving exactly what kind of player he can be and what he’s capable of in the future.
For the future, Denny Ferdinand, like all football players, wants to play at a high level, hoping to make it to the CFL or NFL level someday soon and for him he’s just getting closer. Just this past October, Denny, alongside his brother Kassem committed to the Carleton University in Ottawa. The Carleton Ravens, over time have done a tremendous job recruiting and this year with this signing, it shows that they’ve continued to excel in the field.
With that being said, with Denny Ferdinand now being placed onto the Ravens’ defense, the city of Ottawa and the country of Canada will be exposed to the exact player that he is. Like mentioned earlier, he is an average sized defensive back, standing at 5’11, 170 pounds but he doesn’t play like an average defensive back. Throughout his life he’s played both sides of the ball and on top of that he’s played special teams. He has shown tremendous understanding of the game of football, and his athletic ability lets him play everywhere on the field to show it. He runs a 4.60 40 yard dash and on film he demonstrates that he knows exactly how to use his speed. Whether it is on a kick, or interception return he has great vision and can flip the field easily, he can use his speed in coverage and understands when he has an advantage on the receiver while knowing what to do if he doesn’t. All in all, his football I.Q and athletic ability is something special which you don’t see often with the same player. It allows him to do everything you need him to as a defensive back. Going into coverage, playing safety, playing in the flat, attacking the run, following the ball, going into blitz or even in Ferdinand’s case go on the offensive side of the ball, if you ask him, he will do it. When asked about his play on the field he had said himself, “What sets me aside from other defensive backs is simply that I am a wide receiver playing defensive back.” The quote may be short, though it is true. While playing the defensive back position, he is able to stay side by side with a receiver, running with him, almost running the route for him and when the ball is thrown he has ball skills like no other which helps him win the 50/50 ball, giving him an advantage on the receivers.
For a coach, it is shown that Denny Ferdinand is a great add to any team and can easily become an asset on any team he suits up for. Having the ability to play all over the field is truly amazing but what tops it off is the success he has doing so. You often have a player on the defense that can play safety, defensive back, and halfback while also volunteering to play on offense as well, though Denny has proven to be able to do it all successfully. When asked about what he thought of Denny at first sight, well known High School coach Jean Sorphia Guillaume from Ottawa had commented, “I was shocked. To see him out there, doing one on ones and training with the guys I coach, he is a hell of an athlete.” He later said, “When I saw him first I thought to myself, ‘he shouldn’t be here’ Denny and his brother (Kaseem) should both be playing at the highest level possible for his age group.” When Jean Guillaume had talked more about Denny he had said, “He is very dynamic. You can see it on his film alone, he knows how to play in all positions, defensive back is one but he has the ability to play at both strong safety and free safety as well. That is a dream for any coach, to see that not only is he very coachable but he knows how to use what he learns at each spot on the field.” Talking more about being coachable, Guillaume says, “You can say ‘yes coach’ as long as you want, and I’ve seen it before where someone says ‘yes coach’ but what I say or what another coach had said goes right through them and they don’t use it but with (Denny) it is clear that he understands what coaches are telling him, he knows a lot about the game and it shows on film because of how much he understands that every second of every game is important.”
He also had pointed out, “Knowing what I know, having coached in Florida before I have seen a lot of great dbs and by far (Denny) is on the list and just seeing that he will be playing in the CIS with the Ravens I know they got a steal with him. This is a player that, without a doubt should be playing in the states so I think he will show that with Carleton and they’re getting a dog in him.”
In all, Denny Ferdinand, just from watching him on the field at Sooners and Kanata Knights and to see him continuously get better training with former CFL wide receiver Eddie “Downtown” Brown, it is clear that he is a special player. He has so many skills that some don’t have and has proven to be an impact player on every team he has been on and I’m sure he will do the same at the next level.
For the most part of CFL players, when they are on the field, set to play in 2021it will mark well over a full calendar year since they were on the field last for a CFL game. Due to the spread of the coronavirus and the world-wide pandemic that we’ve been faced with, there was no 2020 CFL season but for two time CFL Eastern All-Star Jonathan Rose that was one of two seasons that he’s missed, making his 2021 comeback even more exciting. In his CFL career, he has played the majority of his team’s games when he was with the Ottawa Redblacks, missing just 4 games in his first 3 seasons in the league. In his most recent season though, he missed a total 15 of the 18 games on the season. Suffering a neck injury on July 5th 2019 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at TD Place, he was taken out out the season just 3 games in and many would have thought he’d never play football again, “I was told a couple times that I probably shouldn’t (play again) but I didn’t let that get to my head. A lot of people do meditations or yoga to put themselves in a good place mentally, football is my yoga and I need it just as much as those people need their meditations and yoga.”
Having his mind set on playing football again, Jonathan Rose stayed around the game of football. Even though he couldn’t play for the team, he spent the remainder of the 2019 CFL season with the Ottawa Redblacks, installing a powerful energy into the locker room. When talking about the season he spent on the sidelines he said, “it wasn’t fun. It was my first major injury where I had to sit out a full season, but for me I felt like it was good to stay around my teammates and give the team the energy they needed during games.” For Rose and the Redblacks, it was a good situation for both sides, he was able to keep his mind set on football and in a 3-15 season the Ottawa Redblacks needed all of the energy they could get on the sidelines for the rest of the season. For the rest of the season as well, while being on the sidelines and being around the team Jonathan Rose was starting his rehabilitation, doing everything he had to to be able to play football again, starting off by having neck surgery in late January in 2020. “After I had surgery, I had a neck brace so I couldn’t do any workouts or anything, but as soon as it was off in March I was working consistently to be healthy enough to play again because that was the goal.”
In early March, Rose’s neck brace was taken off and he was then able to work on getting strong enough to play again, though unlike a usual injury rehab he was forced to do it on his own at home. During the exact time period in which he had his neck brace taken off, a world-wide pandemic had started and due to the coronavirus gyms were closed, hospitals and doctors offices were emergency only, team facilities were closed as well as the majority of stores and public areas. This affected his rehab, but at the same time helped his rehab. Along with the closures and cancellations, the CFL was forced to shut down their 2020 season which while still being stuck at home for his rehab gave Jonathan Rose more time to get himself ready to play football again and also life after football. “It was a blessing in disguise.” Rose said, “Having the CFL season cancelled in 2020 I didn’t have to worry whether I’d miss another season or not so it gave me more time to workout and get ready to play in 2021.” He then continued to talk about what he ended up doing throughout the lockdown, “I tried to stay as busy as possible during the time I had. In June when I was officially cleared to play football again I continued to do small workouts and build my strength up but I also explored opportunities for what I’ll do after football. Being hurt and being told that I might never play again gave me a reason to do stuff to prep for my life after football.”
As for his life after football, Jonathan Rose wants to explore his chances at becoming a guidance counselor and thanks to this quarantine he was able to learn more about the job and finish his degree at the University of Nebraska where he had his football scholarship when he played there. He said in an interview, “I want to be a guidance counselor of some sort later on when I’m done with my football career. It’s always been something I’ve been interested in, just to be able to help the younger generation and thanks to a few teachers in Ottawa, I was able to meet with a few classes and talk to them.” For the most part when you hear of professional athletes talking to a class or a group in general it would be about sports but for Rose it was different, he explained, “It was the first time I talked to a group and was focused on talking about life and not just sports. For me it was a great experience to be able to do that, and to be able to do something where I can see more of what I might do in a job in the future and I was also able to finish my degree which is going to help in the future too and I’m excited about that.” Of course finishing his degree and focusing on his life after football was something Rose had higher up on his priorities list, and just recently we were taught as football fans that the players aren’t the only ones working during the pandemic. In the CFL, since the league shut down in August and after the free agent list came out in November, teams have been actively working on building their rosters for the 2021 season and among the teams doing exactly that is the Edmonton Football Team.
Edmonton, recently has been in the headlines for restructuring a contract with former Ottawa quarterback and current starting quarterback Trevor Harris, freeing up cap room for free agent signings like the one they announced yesterday signing Jonathan Rose. The contract between the two is a huge headline for the CFL. Rose, a two time CFL Eastern All star, Redblacks’ 2016 rookie of the year and Grey Cup Champion is without a doubt one of the best cornerbacks in the CFL right now and there is no arguing that the Edmonton Football Team won big with this signing. “I’m very excited.” said Jonathan Rose, “Its been a longtime for everyone in the CFL since we played but adding that injury to it for me its been even longer and I speak for all of the CFL players when I say this, we’re going to be like kids in a candy store when we get on that field for 2021.”
With that being said, its clear that Jonathan Rose and his teammates will be excited for the day CFL football returns and now with his new contract Rose has, “one less thing to worry about” he says. In June when he was cleared to play football again he was officially released by the Ottawa Redblacks, making him a free agent and he hadn’t heard from the Redblacks’ front office to bring him back, giving him the go ahead to talk to new teams. Out of all of the teams in the CFL that he was talking to the Edmonton Football Team is the team he feels the most “comfortable” with, he said himself, “the team has a lot of familiar faces. Even though its a new team, new colors and a whole new city for me it isn’t all that different. They have Brock at GM who helped bring me in the CFL in the first place and then on the coaching staff they have Thorpe who coached me in 18’ and 19’, not even talking about the players you can call it the ‘Redblacks 2.0’ with Trevor, Greg, Sir V and everyone else there.”
In football, and in all professions it often comes down to who you know. For this case, with Jonathan Rose becoming a free agent and all of the familiarity he has in Edmonton it did come down to just that, but it also came down to the talent as well. Rose isn’t just some average player that the Edmonton Football Team wants to have around because they ‘know’ him, they brought him in to win. Rose, in 4 seasons in the CFL has played in 53 career games, tallying up 166 total tackles while forcing 15 turnovers, scoring two touchdowns as well as getting one quarterback sack. The numbers speak for themselves and show exactly what kind of player he is and he wants to make sure that people know that Jonathan Rose can still play in the CFL, even after not playing for two years. He commented, “Edmonton has a lot of success, and we can have some more success. I’m there to be the best player that I can be and to give them the best chance to get their 15th Grey Cup Championship.” Not only is he looking at winning but also creating opportunity, “The franchise has a good history of bringing guys to the NFL and as much as it may seem like a closed opportunity I still want to get a shot at it and being in Edmonton gives me the best chance to make that a possibility.”
To start off what we hope will be a good year in 2021, Jonathan Rose has finally got the call to play football again. For all CFL and football fans in general this should be something to be excited for. Watch out for Rose and the Edmonton Football Team in the 2021 CFL return to play football season as he looks to bring the 15th Grey Cup back to his new home in Edmonton.
Here in the city of Ottawa, it’s proven that the city has some of the best athletes. Some have gone all the way to the professional level, in football we have seen it in both the CFL and NFL but growing up in Ottawa these dreams that you may have to play in the pros don’t come easy and for the most part you play the game of football for fun and as a way to spend time with friends. Like many others those were all reasons why defensive back Nathan Casimir started playing football for the Orleans Bengals in NCAFA but it was much more than just to be around friends and to have fun. It was about the love he had for the game and to visions he had and still does have within the game of football. When asked about his early years playing football he had said, “I remember my very first practice with the Bengals, I had to race someone and if I had won the race I would have made the team and if I lost I was going to be cut. I won the race, made the team and from then on I had a awesome time playing as a kid.” Casimir had continued, “Football was something fun that I could do to compete against people from other areas and I really fell in love with the game.”
Falling in love with the game of football, Nathan Casimir found some success. In just his second season that he played he won the defensive MVP award on the 2012 Tyke Orleans Bengals squad, and continued to showcase his skills, making awards an annual thing. He won the Defensive MVP again in both 2013 and 2014 and even won the overall MVP award on his team in 2015 and 2016 while in 2016 he won the leadership award voted by players. The awards in youth ball in Ottawa are just significant proof that he is a hell of a football player, and one that loves the game and wants to have a future in it, “Just playing as a kid, it was very fun. I had the chance to play with my friends, play the game I love and most importantly show what I’m all about as an athlete and do it successfully.”
As an athlete, Nathan Casimir was not only able to show what he could do but also improve. In 2016 he enrolled into St Matthews High School in Ottawa where he was introduced to a football culture like none other. He was coached by the well known Jean Guillaume, as well as speed coach Iseah Montgiraud and coach Duane Bien-Aime. When talking about the experience he comments, “It was a great learning experience. At (Orleans) Bengals (NCAFA) I was always one of the best players on the team but then going to St Matthews there was Willy (Dimbongi, University of Ottawa), AK (Ismail, University of Ottawa), Chaz (Alain), Katley (Joseph, Maine University) and Kervens (Bonhomme, Indiana University) who when you look at them you can just say they are good. I got to learn a lot from them and one thing that I learnt through them and the coaches was that nothing is given to you. They all had to work for their achievements and at the time I was striving to be the best in Canada so I knew I was going to have to work hard to get there.” Nathan continued, “The first year playing for coach Jean and St Matts I was just in grade nine so I wasn’t a starter right away but I wanted to be. The first two games I didn’t get too much of an opportunity but in that third game I was put in the game for a couple of plays at a time and I gave it my all. I tried to make the most of my opportunity and it all went good from there, I remember Coach Jean said to me after the game ‘continue to do what you did today and you can keep the job.’ That for me just gave me another reason to keep working and I made sure to keep my starting spot.”
In his 2016 grade nine year with Coach Jean and the Tigers, Nathan Casimir impressed the entire Ottawa High School Football League, winning St Matthews’ rookie of the year award. This accolade was just one of the many he would get in the future but showed that he could play with anyone he said himself, “That gave me more to work for. I knew I could play with guys older than me and I wanted to be better than those around me.” To add to that his high school football coach from St Matthews, Jean Guillaume had mentioned, “Nathan Casimir is a player that strives to be the best. He has that hunger that you need in a football player and it showed in his freshman year being the first ever St Matthew Tiger freshman to start on a varsity team in 2016.” Wanting to be the best version of himself, Nate ended up making a name for himself in the city as one of the best players there is. Unfortunately due to an injury in 2017 he wasn’t able to return to the field right after his successful 2016 season but he didn’t hesitate to show the city what he’s all about when he was healthy again.
In his 2018 High School football season, just year two suiting up with the St Matthew Tigers he was named as the team’s Defensive Most Valuable Player and was placed on the league’s All-Defense team where he was in the talks to be among the best defensive players in the city of Ottawa, though his job had just begun. “From 2018 on I’ve been starting to work harder in everything I do. Playing with guys like Kat (Katley Joseph) or AK (Ismail) and just seeing that it is reachable to go to the next level from Ottawa I made sure to do well in school and to keep improving on the field to get an opportunity, I think that the 2019 year helped me a lot to get to where I am still trying to get to.” Trying to get to where a good group of his former teammates are at now, the division one level in the NCAA or U-Sport level here in Canada, Casimir in his 2019 senior season with Guillaume’s St Matthews Tigers made sure to make his opportunities as open as possible going into the future. Doing just that, Casimir took his nickname, “Cash” to use and rallied up his St Matthews’ defense, having a total 73 Tackles, 13 interceptions and 13 all-purpose touchdowns. The kind of season Casimir had in his senior campaign was unreal, the entire city was amazed by the work he’d put in on the field and the league made sure to show it, he first was awarded Team MVP by Coach Jean Guillaume and the St Matthews Tigers, was placed once again on the All-Defense team, was in the voting for the High School Football League MVP and to cap it all off he had been placed in the defensive backfield on the 2010s All-Decade team. These stats he put up and accolades he received in the 2019 season were fantastic, it gave him the recognition he deserved as a football player and with help from his amazing coaching staff at St Matthews his name was able to reach the inbox of coaches around the country as well as in the United States, which many football players would call the land of opportunity. Although he hadn’t received any big offers or didn’t have any schools for sure interested in him, he knew he was close to getting to where he wanted to be and for himself all he needed was one opportunity to help build upon what he’d already started.
That opportunity ended up being able to play football across the border. Growing up as a football player in Ottawa Casimir had heard all about the idea to go play football in the United States, though his plans were always to achieve greatness where he already was which is in Ottawa though “I wasn’t where I wanted to be.” he said, “I worked so hard to get to where I was but I want to be great and I wasn’t there yet. Coach (Jean Guillaume) is a main reason for my success as a football player and he has done a lot for other players to help them play down south and to be a part of the group of players he took with him this year I am very grateful.” After his 2019 season in Ottawa, Nathan Casimir was still eligible to play one more season of high school football, and with all of the great connections that his coach, Jean Guillaume has, he was able to play this past 2020 season in Florida with the Clearwater Academy International Knights, coached by Jesse Chinchar. Over the years, the program has had a lot of Canadians, more specifically from Ottawa starting with Kervens Bonhomme, Akheem Mesidor and even having added Jean Guillaume to the staff a couple years ago they already found a successful connection with Casimir’s background and there isn’t a reason why they couldn’t have any success helping Nathan get to the next level.
Due to some travel delays and Covid-19 restrictions Nathan Casimir missed out on the start of the 2020 CAI season, though picked right up in his first game where he was able to score a touchdown off of a recovered fumble against the 48th ranked (Max Preps Florida rankings) Sandalwood High School. The touchdown in just his first game set the tone for the remainder of the year where he was able to total up 31 tackles, 14 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and of course the fumble recovery touchdown. In just eight games with the Academy, Casimir did all that he possibly can to prove that he could play with the best and he feels partially satisfied from the work he did, “It was an awesome experience. I’m thankful to be able to have had the experience to play there with some great teammates and a good coaching staff but with all of that aside I think I left my mark there.” Casimir states, “I played against some great players while I was there and I know a lot of them will remember me because I made sure that each receiver I was on that they wouldn’t have an easy catch.”
Not only will the opposing receivers remember him as a great competitor, but his coach Jesse Chinchar of Clearwater Academy will remember the player that he coached in Nathan Casimir. When he was asked about him the well known coach had commented, “Nate Casimir is a big time playmaker in the secondary. His versatility allows him to play all of the defensive back positions which provides a huge value to any team. He has some of the best feet I’ve seen on a high school DB and a back for finding the football.” Footwork is something you can teach and he can get even better with, but hearing about his ball skills, being a ball hawk isn’t something that you can be taught, you either have it or you don’t and for Nathan Casimir he has it. He is a great defensive back, and like Chinchar of CAI had said he can play everywhere in the defensive backfield, even though he isn’t a big player on the field, he is mentally. He isn’t afraid to go in for a hit, and on top of that he is great in coverage, some could call him a lockdown corner for his age and if anyone would it would be his longtime coach, Jean Guillaume.
Guillaume when asked more about Casimir, he takes away all of his coaching evaluation and looks at it from a human’s point of view and points out how good of a teammate he is, “Nathan demonstrates leadership and passion. He’s the one to bring spirit in our team and that’s what makes Nathan different.” He also went on to talk about his work ethic, “Nathan is one the hardest workers as he takes no breaks he will train constantly to master his craft. In his last year as a St Matthew Tiger he broke the single season interception and touchdown record for a Defensive Player in Ottawa as well as winning MVP on a undefeated 7-0 team. Nathan also won BEST OF THE MIDWEST (2020) and also won MVP at the MAROONS CAMP as well as a champion on the Track and Field Relay Team.” Nathan Casimir has used his speed from running track and his athleticism from playing football to be the best player of his ability and from his time at Clearwater Academy International a lot of people were able to recognize that, including Sports Illustrated All American writer John Garcia Jr who said, “He’s a football player. He shows that he is a do it all athlete and that’s something you see a lot of now. The game of football has been evolving like crazy and he’s adapted to it.”
In all, it is proven that Nathan Casimir has a love for the game of football and looks to continue to play at a high level in the future but he’s unsure if he will have the chance to. The 2021 recruit remains un-signed and without a division one offer, though he will not call it quits, “I’m going to just keep working and wait for the time to come because one thing that I’ve learnt in football is that the best of things come to people who wait and I know that I’ve done a lot of work that if the right person finds me, I will make the most of it.”
If the right person, and if the right team finds Nathan Casimir to play at the next level, they will be getting an absolute steal out of him. Being among the greatest defensive players from the city of Ottawa, although he’s listed as a cornerback Nathan can play all over the defensive back field and from watching a lot of film of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis he’s been able to mix a bit of what they do into his game. It shows a lot on film and makes the 5-foot-10, 170 pound defensive back even more exciting to watch with his strength and 4.58 (40 yard dash) speed.
Throughout recent years we as football fans have seen the game grow before our eyes. Players are getting smarter, faster, bigger, better and even on top of that the coaching is improving a lot as well. These are all things that are shown all on levels from youth to pro and the city of Ottawa has seen it all first hand. The city has been the home of a lot of world class athletes, specifically in football where you can find several division one and professional student athletes like Maine’s Katley Joseph, Indiana’s Kervens Bonhomme, West Virginia’s Akheem Mesidor, Penn State’s Jesse Luketa, as well as the Dallas Cowboys’ duo Neville Gallimore and Eli Ankou but as we see the game continue to grow we are now starting to see more players who will be at those (division 1, NFL) stages in the near future, one being defensive back/safety Shakespeare Louis.
Shakespeare Louis, although he is listed as a defensive back/safety he has the ability to play everywhere on the defensive side of the ball. The 6-foot 205 pound Robert Morris commit has proven himself to be an all around star player on every defense he’s played on, his mentor Coach Jean Guillaume comments, “He is the most complete defensive player out there. He can play everywhere. I remember having him at linebacker, free safety, strong safety, defensive back, halfback, nickel and the best part about him is that not only is he the hardest hitter on the teams he’s on but he can also go into coverage.” Having praise from someone of the stature of Coach Jean Guillaume is a big deal, the well known coach and mentor has coached several division one athletes, though for Shakespeare to get to this point he’s had to overcome a lot both on and off the field.
In 2010 and at the age of 9 years old the Haiti native was moved out of his home country due to a brutal earthquake that had turned the country upside down. Though he had to move out of Haiti, a country where he’d been raised by his grandmother, it wasn’t the end of the world for him. He was able to reunite with his parents in Ottawa, Canada who had already started to create opportunities for himself and his older sister. One of the opportunities that he and his family wanted when they moved to North America was a post secondary degree. Being in Canada and with opportunities in front of him now, Shakespeare Louis was determined to go to a post secondary school and at the age of 15 he may have found the perfect way to do it. In 2013, while going to school at Alain Fortin Elementary in Orleans, a suburb in the Ottawa area he was introduced to the game of football and the idea of playing it. Louis comments, “When I was about 13, I moved to Orleans and I went to school with Christian Velliuex (Now Penn State commit/signee) and we played football at recess a lot. He told me to play football, at the time my mom didn’t want me to but two years later (2015) she let me play.” In just his first ever football season that he played in 2015, he was given an opportunity of a lifetime. While still learning about the game of football and all of the basics within it he was given the chance to play with some of the best in the city.
The 2015 Cumberland Panther Peewee NCAFA team that he suited up with had a total of 5 other future division one athletes on the team, along with Shakespeare Louis there was Christian Vellieux (Penn State), Kenny Mestidor (UCLA), Wesley Bailey (Rutgers), Darius Mackenzie (Maine), and Fabrice Mukendi who just signed to Bryant University. Without a doubt he was surrounded by talent in his first season playing football and it only helped him have success throughout his younger years playing football in Ottawa.
After the great learning experience in 2015 with the Cumberland Panthers, Shakespeare was able to continue his football journey in high school at Collège Catholique Mer Bleue in 2017 and then in 2018 with the Junior University of Ottawa Gee Gees in the Ontario Provincial Football League. When talking about the time he spent with the Junior Gee Gees Louis had said, “It was great. It was my first real football experience where I was able to play against some good talent around the city and in the province while also having my work shown to others and build my name as a football player.” Helping build his name as a football player, Shakespeare transferred to Saint Matthews Catholic High School in Orleans where he was set to play football for the well known Coach Jean Guillaume.
Unfortunately though, due to the Ottawa High School Student Athletics rules he was eligible to play the 2018 football season for the St Matthews Tigers, although that wasn’t a red light for himself and his football journey. Even though he wasn’t able to suit up and play on the team that season, the 2018 school year was a great year for him both athletically and academically. “It was a good environment for me. It helped me in school to learn more english as I was coming from a french school and as for football the grind didn’t stop, if anything that’s when it started. Meeting Coach Jean was a blessing and he helped me become the player I am today.” That 2018 season, sitting out and getting better in school and on the field was a huge part to the reason why Shakespeare Louis is now a division one player at the University of Robert Morris and that season was also the only year that he had spent at St Matthews High School before going to school in Florida at Clearwater Academy international. “I remember telling Shakes (Shakespeare) about Clearwater when he came to St Matts and when he was training with us because at the time Kervens was there and so was Akheem who had both been from St Matts so showing him that it’s reachable and that he can get there too if he works hard enough was good. To see him work his way into it and have the opportunity was great because the type of person he is, all he needs is the opportunity and he is going to make the most of it.” Says St Matthews Head Coach Jean Sorphia Guillaume.
As you look deeper into Shakespeare Louis’ time in Florida and you watch the film he has from the 2019 and 2020 seasons you can tell that everything that Jean Guillaume had said was right, all he needed was the opportunity. The first season in Florida, like most things was nerve wracking, “The very first game I played, I remember the first half I was so nervous because all of training camp I was told that I was going to be playing against the best and with the best and it being my first game you don’t want to make any mistakes. The second half though, I had an interception returned for a touchdown which settled myself down and gave me the understanding that I can play with Florida talent.” That first game, having a pick six only made the rest of the season feel even bigger from then on and Louis was to make sure every game counted like it was his last, he finished the 2019 season with 53 total tackles and 4 interceptions. The Clearwater Knights had gone 8-2 on the season and Shakespeare Louis was looking to finish what he had started in Florida, he says, “That first year was great and all but I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I played good but not good enough. Finishing the season I had no offers and come signing day I had nowhere to go, then go through with the signing period I received just one division 3 offer. The offer gave me hope and showed that people are interested in me but I still wanted to prove myself.” To be able to prove himself to be the best, he went on to reclass into the 2021 recruiting class. This gave him another season to play at Clearwater Academy and finish what he started, though it didn’t come easy, “I spent all of the (Covid-19) quarantine grinding. I spent every day getting ready and making sure I am the best player I can be. I know a lot of people that might have used this as an example of why they aren’t where they should be athletically but I made sure to not make Covid(-19 pandemic) an excuse on why I don’t play division one.” Shakespeare Louis continued, “When I got to Florida I had been a better athlete than I ever had been before but in training camp I thought it may have been all for nothing.”
In the 2020 training camp at Clearwater Academy Shakespeare had sprained his MCL which could take up to a few months to heal fully, though having the mindset he did for this 2020 football season he made sure to still play a few games. This was among multiple things that Robert Morris defensive coordinator Dave Plungas pointed out in Shakespeare Louis, “He is super tough. He’s got that exact mindset that you want in a player and on top of that he is both mentally and physically tough.” He said, “This season he had a knee injury and it could have easily sidelined him for the season but he didn’t let that happen. He played a few games with a brace on and we liked what we saw out of him even with that brace.” With all of that being said, the Robert Morris Signee was able to play in 5 of the season’s 9 games with the Clearwater Knights, putting up numbers as if he played the full season with 32 tackles, 2 interceptions as well as 2 touchdowns. Sure the numbers look great and its even better that he was able to do it in just 5 games, though stats don’t exactly matter in High School football its more of what the film says, “As coaches in the next level we aren’t necessarily looking at the stats, and we don’t just watch highlight tapes with all of the flashy plays that you make, we make sure to watch the game film and we want to see what you do throughout the game.” Said coach Dave Plungas of Robert Morris, “When I watch Shakespeare’s film I’m blown away, I mean sure he makes those big plays to go on his highlight tapes but he’s always around the ball and that’s something that you simply cannot teach. He shows on the game film that he can attack the ball from sideline to sideline and that is something we look for in safeties and defensive backs, its just another reason to be excited to have him on our team.”
Excited to have him at Robert Morris, Dave Plungas will be getting a complete player and Sports Illustrated All American writer John Garcia Jr says the exact same thing, “He’s a hybrid player. He played a lot of defensive back and did a lot of coverage at CAI this year and last year but he has the ability to do a lot. When you look at him he looks like a linebacker and he uses his size to play across the board, he can go into coverage and play safety and defensive back but he also can be a linebacker, he has great potential at nickel.”
Like Plungas, many call Louis a ball hawk but he’s much more than just that. When asked about his game Shakespeare had mentioned, “Growing up the way I learnt football was through YouTube videos and then applying what I saw on those highlight tapes on the field. One of the players I watched a lot of highlights of was Sean Taylor so I’ve kind of modelled my game after him as well as some newer NFL guys like Budda Baker because of the way he can hit someone and go into coverage and even Jamal Adams for his ability to blitz which I can do as well.” Not only does Shakespeare talk about his abilities himself but coaches back it up as well his coach and mentor Jean Guillaume from St Matthews in Ottawa had also said, “Shakespeare is one of the best players I’ve coached. He is very coachable and that is not something you can teach, he can play wherever you need him to play and unlike others he does good in all of the positions.”
All in all, this Robert Morris commit has got to be one of the best defensive players in his age group here in Ottawa and generally in Canada. His film shows nothing but great things about his play on the field but as important as that is he also has a perfect mindset to go through with his future. Dave Plungas praises his mindset on and off the field, “This year because of Covid everything we did during recruiting was virtual and we did several meetings with Shakespeare, his coaches and his family as well. Just getting to know him more as a person was very important and just from talking to him and those closest to him a few times it was proven that he is mentally tough and he has a mindset where all he needs is a chance. In high school he made the most of the opportunities he had and we can see him being a great player at the next level because of his work on the field and the mindset he has towards football.” To top it off Jean Guillaume had also said, “He is a power 5 player. He can play with the best in the country 100% and I think that all he needs is one chance to prove that and now that he has this opportunity at Robert Morris he is going to prove that right.”
Proving himself as a top player out there, Shakespere will be starting his post-secondary football career in June of 2021 where he will begin his first ever training camp at the University of Robert Morris following their 2021 spring season ending in April. When talking about the opportunity Louis commented, “I’m very excited. Not just for the chance to play at the division one level but to be able to show what I’m all about. I want to show all of the schools that didn’t offer me what I’m all about.”
There it is for you, Shakespeare Louis, among the best players from the city of Ottawa. Remember the name as he will soon be a big name at the next level. It’s not everyday that you see a defensive back with as much of a hard hitting ability, the ability to blitz and also as good in coverage as he is. These types of players only come around once and a while and Robert Morris is lucky to have him a part of their program, “They got a steal out of Shakes (Shakespeare)” Said Jean Guillaume, “Everyone you talk to they say it too, he is a power 5 player and he’s going to show it for them.”
Over recent years we have seen the city of Ottawa and the country of Canada grow through the game of football. In the 2020 NFL Draft there were two Canadians selected, both Chase Claypool and Neville Gallimore (Ottawa). Along with the Canadians in the NFL, every year we see a number of Canadians ball out at the division one level in the states and get recognized around the world. In 2020, even though there wasn’t a lot of football being played in Ottawa, a lot was happening in the city within the game of football. Players at all levels continued to train and get better, coaches continued to gather players and build teams while the media also did their part to cover the latest news and coming into the new year there is a lot of news bound to break regarding football in Ottawa.
Among the news to break in the 2021 year is from University of Ottawa and Ottawa native, wide receiver Dylan St Pierre as he gets invited to play in a college football all-star game across the border. Heading down south, St Pierre will be playing in the annual Tropical Bowl on January 17th. “I’m very excited for this opportunity.” Dylan St Pierre said when asked about the opportunity, “Not a lot of Canadians get to play in these games in the states so I’m thankful for the opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to the experience.”
At the Tropical Bowl in Florida, St Pierre will be exposed to scouts at all professional stages, in the NFL, CFL and even the XFL, though it won’t be the first time an Ottawa football player gets this exposure, “A couple guys I played with or against are at the professional level now. Guys like Neville Gallimore, Jackson Bennett, and a bunch of other guys and I want to join them at the professional level so the opportunity to go to Florida to play in this game is going to hopefully help with that.” Helping get him to the professional stage, the Ottawa U receiver will be playing side by side and face to face with several star players from the states. In past years, the Tropical Bowl has had a number of players drafted into the NFL, one being Delvin Hodges who started 8 games at quarterback last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This opportunity for Dylan St Pierre will be if not the biggest opportunity of his football career and will be able to shine light on the career he had with the Gee Gees where in 22 games he was able to catch 43 passes for 435 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging just under 2 catches a game in his career.
Stay tuned and up to date on St Pierre’s story as he enters his 2021 NFL/CFL Draft process.
Over the history of the NFL, fans have seen a lot of great receivers. Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison and then recently Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald just to name a few. Though all of these receivers are very different players on and off of the field and have had respectively different impacts on the teams they’ve been a part of, they all have one thing in common, that being a consistent and reliable target for the quarterback. On every team he has been on, Cape Cod native Andrew Jamiel has been exactly that for his quarterbacks and he is aiming to show that at the professional level.
The 23 year old pass catcher has a goal to play professional football in either the NFL, CFL or even the XFL, however due to Covid-19 pandemic it hasn’t been easy for him to get an opportunity to do so. With that being said though, Jamiel has recently been signed by a new league, the “Fan Controlled Football League” (FCFL) and in the league he will have the chance to play alongside other professional football players and continue to prove who he is as a receiver. When asked about this upcoming opportunity Jamiel commented, “I am super excited to play in this new league. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the NFL or CFL and having this opportunity I feel one step closer to fulfilling that dream.”
As close as he may seem to the dream now, it has taken a lot of hard work to get to where Andrew Jamiel is today and it has never been easy to prove himself as the best. Talking about his childhood and his upbringing in Cape Cod, Massachusetts he had said, “I was raised in a football family, my dad played football at Brown University and is in their hall of fame, my older brother played football at Sacred Heart at the division one level and then more recently my sister was a New England Patriots cheerleader, and my younger brother is playing at one of the best prep schools in the country. Seeing what I was raised around, it was clear that I would play and I ended up starting to play when I was younger, being coached by my father.” Jamiel’s father, Joseph is well known in the Ivy League record books, as he ranks eighth in all-time Brown punt return yards and led the Ivy League in kickoff and punt return average during his sophomore season in 1977. He averaged 36 and a half yards per kickoff return with one touchdown, and 28 yards on punt returns, with two scores, in the 1977 season.
Having the success he had he wanted it to carry on to his children, so in 1997 when Joseph’s eldest son, Jo Jo was old enough to play football he had started up the Dennis-Yarmouth youth football program because the community hadn’t had one yet. When talking about the situation Andrew Jamiel commented, “You can tell just how much of a football family we are if I told you that my dad actually started a football team just because where he had moved there wasn’t one for my brother to play for.” he then continued, “After he started the league and I got old enough to start playing, I was coached by him and I was coached by him all the way through high school too and often when people think about a coach’s son they think you would just be given a starting spot. It’s nothing like that. There wasn’t a single day he took it easy on me. He made sure that I proved myself evenly like everyone else and even more than everyone else so I think just having him as a coach helped me a lot and I’m sure it’s a reason why I am where I am now.”
Being coached by his father and Paul Funk at Dennis-Yarmouth High School, Jamiel broke out as one of the best high school football players in all of Massachusetts, being placed on the Atlantic Coast League All-Star team in 3 of the 4 years he played and as a senior he was named Division 3 Player of the year as well as placed on both the All-State team (Massachusetts) and the All-Scholastic team by the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. It was without a doubt that he was a great player and a player that any team could rely on and a main reason for that was his mentality. Throughout his high school and college career he mentally stayed in the present and made sure to make as big of an impact in the present not the future, “I see a lot of guys that want to just go division one out of high school, and they spend their high school careers just trying to do something in the future but I made sure to do everything I wanted to do in the present to get to the future.” Andrew explained more, “Of course I wanted to be a D1 athlete and make a name for myself in the future as a professional football player but at the time I just wanted to be the best high school football player I could be and I believe I was and it helped me get to the next level.”
Having his ‘live in the present’ mindset got him through a fantastic high school career at Dennis-Yarmouth High School, and to the next level as well like he mentioned. After graduating high school in 2016 he explored his post-grad opportunities, where he had a chance to walk on at the University of Massachusetts, a few playing opportunities at the division two level as well as several at the division 3 and JUCO stage though he ended up enrolling and signing at Stonehill College where he was granted a scholarship and opportunity to play at the division two level. When he talked about his recruiting process and his early years at Stonehill Jamiel pointed out, “I live in a big family, I have 2 brothers and 4 sisters. Adding me to the mix that is 7 kids that my parents would have to support in college and for anyone that is very expensive so when I was looking at schools and when I chose to go to Stonehill my dad kept saying to, ‘go where the money is’ and Stonehill offered a scholarship so I did just that. As much as that impacted the decision, a lotelse went into it as well. When I reviewed all of my optionsI looked at which teams are heavy passing teams and where I fit the best, Stonehill ended up being at the top of the listand I’m glad I went there.”
Glad he went to Stonehill, it didn’t take long for Jamiel to fit in at the next level. In just his first year of college football he took off, in 10 games he caught 91 passes for a total 843 yards and 7 touchdowns, being a very reliable target and he made that known across the country. With all of the success he had, he’d be named Northeast-10 Rookie of the Year, and was placed on the NE-10 All-Rookie team as well as the All-NE10-Conference second team. The acknowledgments in 2016 were great but as he continues to speak on his mindset he said, “That year was great for me and my teammates. It showed that I can play at that level and once I saw that I just wanted to be the best player I could be. Like in High School I wasn’t caught up in any records or anything I was just trying to be the best college football player anyone ever saw.” Being the best, well it was something that Jamiel came close to being. After a heck of a freshman campaign he had nothing but success and even though he wasn’t focused on the records he was breaking them, in the 2017 season he broke single game records in the game against Pace University where he hauled in a record breaking 18 catches for another record 294 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns. The game against Pace was just one of several great games in the 2017 season and in the rest of his career at Stonehill College. He totalled, in his career at Stonehill 308 catches for 3,639 yards and 30 touchdowns averaging 93.3 yards in each of his 39 career games.
When asked about the success he responded with, “I was just trying to be the best I could be, I wanted to help us win every game I played and it was awesome to be able to have the success I did.” Jamiel continued, “As a kid I dreamed of playing at the professional level, I wanted to play football for as long as I possibly could and after graduating college I was in the position where I could get an opportunity to do that. Unfortunately with the pandemic my pro days were cancelled and open tryouts to the CFL weren’t options so after going un-drafted, I kind of counted the 2020 season out.”
“In college I didn’t have a redshirt year, so really I played 8 straight seasons of football with high school and college so this year (2020) was a good opportunity for myself to rest as much as possible and get better. Throughout this pandemic, I haven’t had a single day where I don’t think about football or where I don’t do my part to get better. Whether it’s at the gym, on the field or even at my house, I have been working non stop and I feel stronger, faster, and smarter as a football player.” Improving as a football player, Jamiel has gone to several different showcases and tryouts for free agents. Although there aren’t many opportunities for younger free agents right now with all off the Covid-19 restrictions in place by the NFL and with no activity between the CFL or NFL, there has been a lot of individual events for players like Andrew Jamiel. One of the events that has happened earlier in 2020 and a showcase/tryout that Jamiel went to was for a newly found “Fan Controlled Football League.” Yes it isn’t necessarily the biggest of opportunities for Jamiel, and some may question whether the league will even survive, but it is professional football, there are some big names involved with the league and its the only opportunity a free agent can get in a pandemic so Jamiel jumped on the opportunity and it ended up working out for him. He was signed by the league at the end of the 2020 year and will be attending the FCFL’s first ever training camp in January.
When asked about the opportunity Andrew Jamiel said himself, “I’m super excited for this. The league has been marketed very well on social media, it has a good group of guys involved and overall it is a professional football opportunity.” A professional football opportunity, the first of Jamiel’s career and one where he will have the opportunity to play with players that have played at the NFL and CFL level, like newly signed quarterback Johnny Manziel is the exact way he can get to the NFL or CFL himself. “I believe that if I do my thing in the new league, I can get a chance at a CFL contract or even a NFL contract and that is the end goal so when I get to Atlanta in January I will be sure to let everyone know who I am through the work I do on the field.”
The work he does on the field sure is great work and soon the world will be able to see it at the next level when he suits up to play in the FCFL. Standing at just 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Jamiel may not be the tallest or the biggest of players but he is a consistently reliable target and considering his size you can easily compare him to a receiver like Julian Edelman or Wes Welker. Both Wes Welker and Edelman have something in common as well, and that is that they have proven themselves at the professional stage, something that Jamiel looks to do as well. “If a team were to bring me in, they can expect a player that will give it their all. Every time I step on the field I try to be the best player I can be and on top of that I am an extremely hard worker as well as a smart receiver. I know I am not the tallest receiver on the field and I am usually the shorter one in the battle against the cornerback but I have a good football I.Q and that is something I can bring to the next level and help teams succeed.”
A team bringing him in would be an absolute dream come true for Andrew Jamiel, the speedy and reliable receiver will do anything he can to help himself get there and come January 11th when Jamiel travels to Atlanta he will have the opportunity to showcase what kind of player he is in front of several professional scouts. Stay up to date with Andrew Jamiel’s story and make sure to check him out when he suits up in the Fan Controlled Football League alongside other professional athletes like former NFL/CFL quarterback Johnny Manziel and where he will be coached by pop culture stars, Quavo (The Migos), Bob Menry (Instagram influencer), Donald De La Haye (UCF/TORONTO Toronto Argonauts kicker/YouTube star), Richard Sherman (NFL defensive back), Austin Eckler (NFL running back) and many more.
Over the years, the city of Ottawa has seen many athletes come out and have a lot of success. We’ve seen it with hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer and more recently in football as well. A large part of the players that have come out of the city, whether its playing division one, at a Canadian university or even at the professional level have played on the defensive side of the ball, and more specifically in the defensive back field. In the NCAA now from Ottawa is Katley Joseph of Maine University, Jonathan Sutherland of Penn State, Patrice Rene of UNC, Arthur Hamlin of Colgate and more, though there will be some joining them soon. After a long 2020 year on and off the field for athletes, the talent from Ottawa has been exposed and ready to be showcased at the next level.
To put a little extra light on the upcoming NCAA stars, I’ve decided to dedicate the first week of the 2021 year, January 4th through 8th to some of the best up and coming defensive backs from the area. I’ll be conducting interviews with the players themselves and have them evaluated by professional defensive backs as well as some of the best coaches I know personally.
This experience will help myself learn about the talent we have in the city of Ottawa but as well as put exposure on some of these players that are either getting looks already at the NCAA level or wanting to get those looks. Stay tuned to learn more on Ottawa’s defensive back group here at https://jzmedia.ca/