Godfrey Onyeka is No. 6 in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s rankings, but being among the very best in football rankings lists is nothing new for those in his family.
While football just seems to come natural to the Onyeka family, there’s a lot of sweat and hard work going into making good things happen.
As Godfrey Onyeka, from Brampton, Ont., said during a conference call Wednesday in conjunction with the announcement of the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top-20 rankings, “It’s a no one wants to be the worst player in the family kind of thing.”
Godfrey, a defensive back at Laurier, is listed as the CFL’s sixth-ranked prospect. His cousin, Nakas (linebacker), is with the Toronto Argos, another cousin, Kosi (linebacker), is with the Guelph Gryphons (“he might end up being the best of the five of us”), while his brother, Kene (listed at 14th in the Scouting Bureau rankings), was a star with the Carleton Ravens, winning the J.P. Metras Award as the OUA’s top lineman. Another cousin is a good high school football player.
“We’re all relatively athletic; we all have, I guess, a bit of aggression in us — you need that to be a good football player,” said Godfrey. “I guess we’re pretty intelligent — that helps as well. We all push each other. Honestly, I’m going to say I should be ranked No. 1, but it’s still an honour to be ranked in the top 20.”
Kene, a 6-3 defensive end, was listed at No. 8 in the first Canadian prospect rankings in September. A second-team all-Canadian, he finished the OUA season with 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.
For University of Ottawa linebacker Jackson Bennett, the rankings are another stepping stone. The winner of the OUA’s President’s Award (standup defensive player), Bennett had 47 tackles, three interceptions and a sack. He also had 19 returns for 611 yards. His immense talent could make him a first-round pick in May’s CFL draft.
University of Alberta offensive lineman Mark Korte (ranked 12th) of Spruce Grove, Alta., called it “a huge honour to be put on the list, it’s a deep class — especially for offensive linemen.”
David Knevel, from Brampton, remained in the No. 1 spot he occupied in September. The 6-9 senior at Nebraska has lots of experience as a starter at right tackle. He’s appeared in 31 games for the Cornhuskers, including eight in 2017. In 2016, he was named an Academic All-Big Ten.
Trey Rutherford retains his second spot. The Connecticut Husky started in all 12 games in 2017 on the offensive line, and has experience as a fullback during the 2015 season. The Markham, Ont., native helped UConn’s offence rush for 200 yards in seven different games.
Bowling Green Falcons right tackle Ryan Hunter comes in third overall after starting all 12 games in 2016. Hunter, from North Bay, helped the program get three of their players to 100-plus yards in their last two games of 2016 for the first time in Bowling Green’s history.
Offensive lineman Peter Godber rose from sixth place to fourth after his senior year at Rice University. Godber has played 36 games in three years for the Owls, starting his most recent 23. The 6-3 Toronto native has been a member of the C-USA Commissioner’s Honour Roll every year since 2014.
Georgia State’s Julien Laurent rose five spots from 10th overall to round out the top five. The Dean’s List player from Toronto started nine games at nose guard, missing three due to injury. He collected a sack and 28 tackles in 2017, including a career-high eight in one game.
The rankings include 10 offensive linemen, three receivers, two defensive linemen, two running backs, two defensive backs and one linebacker.
A total of 18 schools are represented on the list, with only two schools (Calgary and Western) having multiple players on the list. The first overall selection in the 2017 CFL draft, Faith Ekakitie, was ranked 11th on the 2016 Winter Scouting Bureau.
Last year’s winter rankings saw 19 of 20 prospects selected in the CFL draft.
The CFL Scouting Bureau, made up of scouts, player personnel directors and GMs, releases its rankings three times each year: In September, December and April.
CFL SCOUTING BUREAU RANKINGS
1. David Knevel, OL, Nebraska (Brampton, Ont.)
2. Trey Rutherford, OL, Connecticut (Markham, Ont.)
3. Ryan Hunter, OL, Bowling Green (North Bay)
4. Peter Godber, OL, Rice (Toronto)
5. Julien Laurent, DL, Georgia State (Toronto)
6. Godfrey Onyeka, DB, Laurier (Brampton)
7. Raushaun Simonise, WR, Calgary, Okanagan (Vancouver, B.C.)
8. Regis Cibasu, WR, Montreal (Congo)
9. Darius Ciraco, OL, Calgary (Burlington, Ont.)
10. Mark Chapman, WR, Central Michigan (Port Huron, Mich.)
11. Dakoda Shepley, OL, UBC (Windsor)
12. Mark Korte, OL, Alberta (Spruce Grove, Alta.)
13. Jackson Bennett, DB, U of Ottawa (Cumberland)
14. Kene Onyeka, DL, Carleton (Brampton)
15. Andrew Pickett, OL, Guelph (Kitchener, Ont.)
16. Alex Taylor, RB, Western (Winnipeg)
17. Nelkas Kwemo, LB, Queen’s (Montreal)
18. Ryan Sceviour, OL, Calgary (Calgary)
19. Chris Amoah, RB, Laval (Montreal)
20. David Brown, OL, Western (London, Ont.)