Several Canadians have recently accepted scholarships to play NCAA Division 1A football.
Leading the way are two quarterbacks who hope to defy the odds and one day take snaps in the NFL (to date Ottawa’s Jesse Palmer is the only quarterback who played minor football in Canada to play in the NFL).
Calgary native Chris Merchant is a 6’2, 190-pound quarterback who has spent the past two seasons at St. Andrew’s College in Toronto. Merchant will at the University of Buffalo this fall.
The Sportseh.ca website discussed Merchant’s prospects in a recent post:
After watching game film of this kid, it is pretty obvious that he knows what he’s doing out there. Chris has a strong arm and great vision in the pocket. His athleticism is also underestimated. When he is pressured, he has the ability to sense where holes in the defense may be and finds them, leading to a completion or a big rush. His pocket presence is one of the strongest parts of his game.
The University of Buffalo, an NCAA D1 school, noticed his strengths and offered him a scholarship before even entering his grade 12 year. This was a big step for Merchant, Canadian football, and all athletes within it.
Ottawa native Michael O’Connor is another highly rated Canadian quarterback who had several NCAA scholarship offers.
The 6’5, 215-pound O’Connor played for Ottawa’s Ashbury College and the National Capital Football Association’s Orleans Bengals before transitioning to a school in Tennessee. O’Connor is now the starting quarterback at the IMG Academy in Florida and has accepted a scholarship offer from Penn State.
“The recruiting process was a great learning experience for me, and in the end, I am confident in my decision to commit to Penn State,” O’Connor said in an interview with Bright House Sports Network. “Coach O’Brien continues to recruit a standout collection of athletes and I am both honored and eager to become an immediate contributor in 2014. In the mean time, I’ve worked hard this spring and can’t wait to take the field for my senior year at IMG Academy.”
“Michael possesses all the qualities you look for in an elite student-athlete – he’s the ultimate leader on and off the football field,” Chris Weinke, O’Connor’s coach and the Director of Football at IMG Academy, told Bright House Sports Network. “As with everything he does, he approached the recruiting process very seriously and has landed on an excellent option for his talents. I am excited about the opportunity to coach Michael during his senior year and continue to help him develop as he makes that transition to big time D-I football.”
Comcast Sport’s profile of O’Connor can be found here: http://www.imgacademy.com/latest-headlines/2013-09-12/img-academy-qb-michael-oconnor-featured-comcast-sports
Abbotsford B.C. native Maleek Irons will also be continuing his football career south of the border this Fall.
Irons, a 6’0, 205-pound running back who starred with the B.C. High School Football Association’s WJ Mouat Hawks, will attend Ohio University. Irons burst onto the scene when he rushed for 322 yards and seven touchdowns (almost all in the first half) as an 11th-grader back in 2012.
Stouffville Ontario’s Trey Rutherford was another highly recruited prospect who recently decided where he would play football in 2014. The 6’5, 289-pound offensive lineman accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Connecticut.
Rutherford developed his skills with the Ontario Varsity Football League’s Markham Raiders at Brother Andre high school and King City’s Villanova College before playing this past season at Kent school in Connecticut.
Vancouver’s Blake Whitely, a 6’5, 240-pound tight end who made 70 receptions for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns for the West Vancouver Highlanders in 2012, will find himself on one of college football’s biggest stages this Fall.
Whitely, who played this past season at a Junior College in Arizona, recently accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Texas.
On the defensive side of the ball, Pickering Ontario’s Matthew Boateng, a teammate of Michael O’Connor’s at IMG, will attend the University of Kansas.
According to a KUsports.com article, the 6’0, 180-pound Boateng, who plays defensive back, announced his plans via Twitter:
Boateng, a three-star prospect originally from Canada, made the news public via Twitter, saying simply, “Just committed to the University of Kansas.”
KU recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello was one of the first coaches to discover Boateng and that early interest appears to have paid off for the Jayhawks.
Boateng chose Kansas over offers from Indiana, Marshall, Villanova and Wake Forest. He said as recently as November, following his official visit to Kansas during the weekend of KU’s victory over West Virginia, that Baylor, Florida State, Mississippi and Toledo also were showing serious interest.
As KU coach Charlie Weis has touted often, the layout of KU’s dorms, workout facility, training table and academic support offices was a hit with Boateng.
“One of my favorite things about the campus was how close and convenient everything was,” Boateng told JayhawkSlant.com’s Jon Kirby in November. “I like how the training facilities are close to the academic facilities. Another thing that I love was the dorms. They were more like apartments and living conditions were really comfortable. They were nice.”