Ontario’s Christo Bilukidi (Raiders), Orlando Franklin (Broncos) and Shaun Suisham (steelers) are entrenched as NFL starters. Luke Willson (Seahawks) isn’t far behind.
Raiders blog silverandblack.com writer Levi Damien wrote a post on July 10 about the team’s defensive line depth for the upcoming season.
With the offseason departures of Desmond Bryant and Tommy Kelly, Ottawa’s Christo Bilukidi becomes the only returning defensive tackle on the team.
Bilukidi, who grew up in Ottawa but didn’t start playing football until his senior year of high school, was the Raiders sixth round selection in the 2012 draft (Georgia State).
A recent post on Broncos blog milehighreport.com updates the progress of another Ontarian, Toronto’s Orlando Franklin.
Franklin, who starred in the Ontario Varsity Football League before accepting a scholarship at the University of Miami, is entering his third year as the starting left tackle for the Denver Broncos.
Franklin came in to the NFL as a bull-dozing run blocker, but as milehighreport.com points out (using statistics from Pro Football Focus) his pass-blocking skills have improved from 93.5% efficiency to 96.6%.
Like Franklin, La Salle’s Luke Willson developed his football skills in the Ontario Varsity Football League before accepting an NCAA football scholarship.
Willson was a fourth round selection by the Seahawks in the 2013 NFL Draft. The tight-end, who is enjoying a strong training camp, was recently back in the Windsor and turned up at an OVFL Essex Ravens game.
“The Ravens did a lot for me coming out of high school. If it wasn’t for the Ravens, I don’t know if I would have the same opportunities I have now, so it’s great to come back here,” Willson told the Windsor Star’s Rebecca Wright. “No matter where you go, you can’t forget where you came from.”
Wallaceburg’s Shaun Suisham, a veteran place kicker, is the subject of a story by Nick Kelly on Steelers blog nicepickcowher.com. Kelly documents Suisham’s struggles early on, and how he has now become a Steelers mainstay “After constantly hopping around the NFL for the past 9 years, Suisham finally may have found a home after having a 90.3 field goal percentage.”