North Vancouver’s Brayden Lenius wears number 81 on the football field.
Yet it is the number 10 stitched on his towel that the 6-foot-5, 195-pound receiver, who recently accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Washington, looks for inspiration.
Ten was the number worn by Lenius’ grandfather – Eldridge Dickey – the first black quarterback ever selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Dickey led Tennessee State to a perfect season in 1966, and in 1968 the AFL Raiders made him the first black quarterback chosen in the first round. He later switched to receiver.
According to Los Angeles Daily News reporter Jill Painter Lenius was just three when his grandfather died, and didn’t learn about what he did for the game until the ninth grade.
“It’s a blessing. I didn’t know much about him a while ago,” Lenius told Painter, shortly after he transferred to Los Angeles area prep school Chaminade for his senior season in 2013. “I realize what he’s done for black quarterbacks and black history. It’s pretty cool reading about him. I have a big book about him my grandmother made for me.”
“I always wear a towel on my right hip. Coaches in high school called him ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ So I have that stitched and his No. (10) on my towel. That’s what I wear in remembrance of him.”
Before transferring to Chaminade Lenius was a standout at Carson Graham in North Vancouver.
After arriving in California he caught 26 passes for 315 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games and led Chaminade to a league title.
Reknowned for his jumping ability, Lenius reportedly had more than five full scholarship offers from NCAA Division 1 schools.
Lenius is one of several Canadians who accepted NCAA football scholarships this month.
Here are a few of the notables:
QB Michael O’Connor (Ottawa ON) committed to Penn State University.
QB Chris Merchant (Calgary AB) committed to the University of Buffalo.
OL Zach Wilkinson (Victoria BC) committed to the University of Northern Colorado
OL Trey Rutherford (Stouffville ON) committed to the University of Connecticut
TE Blake Whiteley (Vancouver BC) committed to the University of Texas
RB Maleek Irons (Abbotsford BC) committed to Ohio University
DE Sheridan Lawley (Abbotsford BC) committed to the University of Connecticut
DE Julien Patrice Kafo (Mont Tremblant QC) committed to the University of Minnesota
DE Terry Ayeni (Toronto ON) committed to Iowa State University
DB Matthew Boateng (Pickering ON) committed to the University of Kansas