The B.C. Lions have signed all four of their selections from the 2020 CFL Global Draft: punter Jake Ford, defensive end Boqiao Li, kicker Takeru Yamasaki and defensive end Niklas Gustav.
Ford, who was drafted first overall by the club, moved to the United States in 2016 and eventually found his way to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. Along with leading the NCAA in punting average in 2018, the native of Shepparton, Australia helped the program to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons.
Prior to his time in the States, Ford was a member of ProKick Australia, a developmental program that has sent 150 Aussie kickers to NCAA schools and five players to NFL rosters including San Francisco 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky.
Born and raised in Beijing, Li began playing organized football at age 15 and was the first Chinese player selected to take part in the NFL Pathway program. He was selected in the second round, 18th overall by the Lions
Li moved to the United States to attend the University of Charleston and eventually caught on with the Arena Football League’s Georgia Doom. Li had previously played in the China Arena Football League and was teammates with former BC Lions Paul Cheng whom Li considers his football mentor.
Selected one pick after Li at the start of the third round, Yamasaki began his football journey at the University of Osaka and has also played running back and wide receiver before discovering his true calling in the kicking game.
Nicknamed the “Japanese Kicking Monster”, Yamasaki joined the professional X League in 2017 and was a member of the Obic Seagulls Japan X Bowl championship in 2020.
Yamasaki also spent part of 2019 in the US developmental Spring League where he made all eight of his field goal attempts in game action, including his longest from 57 yards.
He recently lived up to his nickname by hitting a 73-yarder during a practice session, a moment that appeared on BarDown.
The final pick of the draft, Gustav was born in Hamburg, Germany and has enjoyed a successful career at Morningside College in Iowa. The program’s all-time leader with 23.5 career sacks, Gustav is a three-time all-league selection in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) and was also named the GPAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.
Gustav also led the GPAC with 15.5 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks in his senior season.