Canadians Nelson Lokombo, Pier-Olivier Lestage selected to virtual East-West Shrine Bowl

Photo courtesy: Josh Schaefer, Athletics

Canadian defensive back Nelson Lokombo and offensive lineman Pier-Olivier Lestage have been selected to participate in the virtual 2021 East-West Shrine Bowl.

Lokombo was awarded the President’s Trophy in 2019 as the top defender in U Sports football. He recorded four interceptions and returned two for touchdowns, while also notching 23.5 tackles that season. The playmaker helped lead the University of Saskatchewan Huskies to a berth in the Hardy Cup Canada West final before falling to the eventual Vanier Cup champion, University of Calgary Dinos.

Lestage was named a second-team All-Canadian following the 2019 U Sports season. He was an aggressive leader of the University of Montreal offensive line which helped the Carabins win the Dunsmore Cup and earn a spot in the Vanier Cup. The Carabins used a physical ground game to pave the way to the Canadian university national championship.

Despite the event being cancelled due to challenges presented by COVID-19, organizers are announcing selections throughout December to recognize outstanding senior seasons. In conjunction with the National Football League, players will participate in virtual training sessions in preparation for the NFL Draft.

The 96th annual East-West Shrine Bowl had been scheduled for January 23, 2021, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The student-athletes will participate in various virtual training/informational drills with current NFL coaches and members of the NFL operations staff. Some players will also participate in various virtual experiences with Shriners Hospitals for Children patients in recognition of the game’s nearly century-long commitment to supporting the health care system’s life-changing mission.

The most recent East-West Shrine Bowl, played this past January, currently boasts more than 100 members of its roster on NFL rosters this fall. The East-West Shrine Game is the oldest United States college football all-star showcase.

It has served as an NFL launching point for Canadian players such as tight end Antony Auclair (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), defensive lineman David Onyemata (New Orleans Saints), offensive linemen Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Kansas City Chiefs) and Crter O’Donnell (Indianapolis Colts) in recent years.

Thousands of East-West Shrine Bowl players have gone to the NFL in the past century, including 78 who went on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For more than three decades, at least two Canadian university players have been invited to the annual event in Florida.