Nine Canadian national team alum among top 20 prospects for 2021 CFL Draft

The Canadian Football League Scouting Bureau has nine former Football Canada national team members in the top-20 rankings for the 2021 CFL Draft.

The Scouting Bureau is made up of CFL scouts, player personnel directors and general managers and is released three times a year: September, December and April.

Linebackers Amen Ogbongbemiga 2016 International Bowl, Deshawn Stevens Junior National Team 2016, Ben Hladik U19 International Bowl, 2018, Tyris Lebeau 2015 International Bowl, and Nick Cross Junior National Team 2016, as well as offensive linemen Liam Dobson 2016 International Bowl, Pier-Olivier Lestage 2016 Junior National Team and Logan Bandy 2017 North American Championship and defensive back Alonzo Addae 2015 International Bowl were all selected for the fall edition.

Ogbongbemiga’s number two ranking makes him the highest-placed national team alum on the list. The product of powerhouse Notre Dame High School in Calgary earned a scholarship to Oklahoma State University. He first made a name for himself on special teams, earning the school’s Outstanding Special Teams Player award in 2018, before having a monster season in 2019 where he was sixth in the Big 12 with 100 tackles. He’s currently tied for the team lead in tackles in 2020, with 17.

Dobson, an Ottawa native who played at Canada Prep before earning a scholarship to the University of Maine in 2016, was a starter during the International Bowl. Currently fifth in the rankings, the six-foot-three, 340-pound converted defensive lineman has tremendous athleticism for his size, and showed off his hops this summer by dunking a basketball with ease. He was Maine’s top offensive lineman in 2019 and had an impressive 12 knockdowns a game for a Black Bears run game that racked up 1,881 total yards.

Stevens, whose roots are in Toronto, sits ninth in the rankings. He had four sacks and an interception during the 2016 World Championship, helping Team Canada take home gold in a 24-6 win over the USA while also being named an All-Star. The former Metro Toronto Wildcat and Don Bosco Eagle standout also spent time in Connecticut with the Kent Lions before signing his letter of intent to play for Maine.

Stevens, who stands six-foot-two, 255 pounds, had a dominant 2018 season, tallying 120 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. He projects as a defensive end in the CFL, and could be an instant special teams force. Time will tell if Stevens, a favourite to go early in the draft, declares for the 2021 draft or waits for 2022, as he suffered a torn achilles in 2019 and was granted a medical redshirt, which deferred his draft year.

Addae is one placing down from Stevens, tenth. The Pickering, ON native played at St. Mary’s High and later went to prep school for a year in New Jersey, where he had four interceptions. He then spent three years at FCS school New Hampshire before transferring to West Virginia – the alma mater of his cousin Jahmile who now coaches him – in 2019. The physical defensive back grabbed the national spotlight earlier this season in his Mountaineers debut when he recorded a bone-crunching hit on special teams. Starting at safety, Addae also recorded an impressive diving interception and had seven tackles overall against Eastern Kentucky.

Lestage is ranked 11th by the Bureau. The Quebec native is the highest-placed U Sports athlete in the top 20, and has been a force over the last four years for a consistently strong offensive line in Montreal. He was named a second Team All-Canadian in 2019 at the guard position, but can play anywhere up front, which is key in the eyes of scouts.

Bandy is one spot down from Lestage 12th overall. The Calgary native, who played for the vaunted St. Francis Browns in high school, won a Vanier Cup with his hometown team last season and has been a back-to-back All-Canadian at the tackle position for a powerhouse Dinos offensive line.

Hladik, a standout at the University of British Columbia, checks in 16th in the rankings. He had eight tackles during the 2018 International Bowl and has been a force for the T-Birds ever since stepping on the Point Grey campus in 2017, earning All-Canadian status and Canada West Defensive Player of the Year honours along the way. Hladik was a standout at Vernon Secondary as a two-way player and is also capable of playing defensive end.

Lebeau, a Montreal native, is 18th in the rankings. He plied his trade for the consistently strong Vanier College before earning a spot with the University of Massachusetts in 2017. He established himself on special teams during his first two years, and last season was fifth on the team in tackles with 48. Lebeau has seen time as both a defensive back and linebacker while at UMass and his versatile skill set at six-foot-one, 210 pounds will be invaluable at the next level.

Two spots down in the rankings is Cross, a teammate of Hladik’s as well as the former Canada West Rookie of the Year as a member of the University of Regina Rams. Cross played high school ball at powerhouse Dr. Martin LeBoldus in Regina and is incredibly fast and agile. He was all over the field with the T-Birds last season, leading a young squad with 75 tackles — topped Canada West — and a sack. Much like Stevens, he was a standout during the 2016 World Championship, earning Player of the Game honours against Mexico as well as All-Star status overall.

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