|by Nexus Sports Team| 

The University of Massachusetts football program recently announced the signing of twelve new recruits during the early signing period which ended prior to the Christmas holidays. Turning twelve “commits” into signatures before the break is quite the feat however, in Canada, it’s only overshadowed by the fact that 3 of those twelve rookies hailed from Vanier College in Montreal.

Samuel Emilus (wide receiver), Darren Kyeremeh (linebacker) and Arnold Mbembe (defensive lineman) are ready to join the ranks of the Minutemen, south of the border. They are just latest of long line of Quebec-bred talent from the RSEQ or USports to take their skillsets to the NCAA. In the case of these 3 young men, their journey to the NCAA led down the path least travelled. These boys were not “discovered” at a camp in the US nor in Quebec. They were home-grown by the Vanier Cheetah’s football program and then talked up by their Head Coach Pete Chryssomalis  to NCAA scouts and coaches. “NCAA programs want to speak to the schools and their coaches in order to get the low-down on the student-athletes.” Coach told us over the phone. “They want to develop relationships with us and we as coaches know the “ins & outs” of the recruiting process which student-athletes need to complete in order to qualify academically”.

Coach Pete, who is now employed full-time at Vanier College, has built a number of sustaining relationships with key recruiting personnel on several NCAA teams. “I have a great relationship with the head recruiter at UMass who was formerly part of the University of Connecticut program” he pointed out. Today, Coach Pete has ongoing relationships with such programs as Syracuse, Rutgers, Buffalo and North Carolina State University, all of which have come to trust the Vanier coaching staff’s assessment on player potential. “We will not push student-athletes we feel don’t have the athletic or academic potential to be successful towards NCAA programs.” he added.

Crossing the border to play ball isn’t as easy as, well, just crossing the border and playing ball. There are series of prerequisites student-athletes need to secure before even thinking of going down to showcase their talents. And if you’re thinking of graduating high school in Quebec and then joining a high school in the US, here’s something to seriously consider: “If a student decides to attend U.S. high school after graduating from a Quebec high school, he or she must have already attained 15 of the 16 core courses necessary to clear [eligibility] as he or she can only take 1 core course that count towards eligibility at the U.S. High school level”, Coach explained.  He also advised that if the student-athlete does not follow this process, he or she could be in jeopardy of not being eligible for the NCAA as, in most cases, a high school graduate from Quebec who decides to attend high school in the U.S. afterwards will be retrofitted to grade 11, which in turn causes him or her to lose 1 year of eligibility because the NCAA rules would classify him or her an international student. “Ultimately, NCAA programs considers the high school graduating year from Quebec as the true year of graduation and not the one obtained in the U.S. This is why parents and student-athletes must be made aware of these facts before taking such a decision.”, the coach warns.

The most common path, currently, remains to attend camps, either south of the border or in Canada, whereby a surprise guest - a NCAA recruiter- is in attendance. Although the camps have proven effective for some Canadian recruits in the past, Coach Pete still prefers the alternative his program offers, and so do the NCAA programs according to him. “They really like the fact that our boys are one year older than their American counterparts. Vanier College has a deep athletic & academic history and we try our best to educate the parents and kids on the best process. If you’re playing division 1 football, it doesn’t get better than that.” he added.

The Cheetah’s program has helped a significant number of graduates make it to the NCAA. “Student-athletes need to understand that they need to do this right if they want to be seen.”


Photo credit: Cheetah Football

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