Western Mustangs DL Deionte Knight selected for East-West Shrine Bowl

Photo courtesy: U Sports

One of Canadian university football’s brightest stars is getting a chance to showcase his talents south of the border.

On Tuesday, the East-West Shrine Bowl announced that University of Western Ontario defensive lineman Deionte Knight has been selected to participate in their annual all-star showcase for draft eligible prospects.

The oldest college football all-star game in existence, thousands of East-West Shrine Bowl players have gone to the NFL over 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, though Knight will be the only Canadian in 2022.

After missing most of the past two years due to injury and the cancelled 2020 season, the six-foot-four, 275-pound pass rusher returned as the lynchpin of the vaunted Mustangs defence en route to winning the 2021 Vanier Cup.

Knight was awarded the J.P. Metras Award as the outstanding lineman in Canadian university football after leading the nation with 7.5 quarterback sacks to go along with 19 tackles. The fourth-year Arts and Humanities student also took a fumble recovery 12-yards for a touchdown in the Mustangs regular-season finale at Windsor.

The prestigious Shrine Bowl invite will add another highlight to that already impressive resume and ensure he is seen by all 32 NFL franchises.

In recent years, the game has served as an NFL launching point for Canadian players such as tight end Antony Auclair (Houston Texans), defensive lineman David Onyemata (New Orleans Saints), offensive linemen Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (New York Jets) and Carter O’Donnell (Indianapolis Colts). Offensive lineman Pierre-Olivier Lestage (Seattle Seahawks) also made the NFL leap last season after participating in the game’s COVID-imposed virtual showcase.

The 97th East-West Shrine Bowl will be held on Thursday, February 3 at 2:00 p.m. EST in Las Vegas, Nevada’s Allegiant Stadium. The game will be televised in its entirety on NFL Network.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.