The 2021 Global Draft is complete and the BC Lions Football Club added four new prospects with a focus on special teams and defence. They began the proceedings by taking Australian P/K Jake Ford with the 1st overall selection.
In round two, they got one of the more coveted linebackers on their board, Boqiao Li (18th overall), and then went back to special teams for the first pick of round three, taking Japanese K Takeru Yamasaki (19th overall).
They ended the day by adding German DL Niklas Gustav with the 36th overall selection.
Said Lions co-GM/director of football operations Neil McEvoy on the four additions:
“Having the opportunity to talk Canadian Professional Football with all these young men from around the world leading up to today’s Global Draft has been refreshing. Today we were rewarded with four excited football players who can’t wait to show all of Canada and their home countries that they can play and compete at the pro level. I am excited for the future and look forward to seeing these four global players make the BC Lions a truly diverse and international football team.”
Ford –Is originally from Shepparton, Australia and also excelled in both Aussie Rules and rugby as a youngster. Ford moved to the United States in 2016 and first attended the University of Oregon.
During his final two years of eligibility at Ouachita Baptist (Arkansas), Ford helped the program to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. In 2018, he led the entire nation in net punt average. Ford most recently spent 2020 with Alphas of the US developmental Spring League. Upon reporting to camp, it will actually be the second trip to Vancouver for Ford after first visiting in 2016 to lock down some Visa requirements.
“It was in the fall. I just sort of remember driving across the border, seeing all the trees, they were beautiful, and the city and the sea, all that sort of stuff,” said Ford from his home in Arkansas.
“It sort of reminded me a lot about home: beaches. I guess that’s something I’m excited to see again. Since I’ve been down in Arkansas, there is not a lot of ocean or things like that (laughs).”
Ford went on to say he’s spoken at length with head coach Rick Campbell and special teams coordinator Don Yanowsky and what their expectations of him will be. Punter was definitely a spot the brass was looking to fill in this Global Draft and they were able to select the one they coveted the most.
Li- The native of Beijing began playing football at age 15 and was also recently a member of the Chinese Rugby Sevens squad. Li played for the University of Charleston and was the first Chinese player to be selected for the NFL Pathway Program which was designed for the league to grow globally. Li also has experience playing in the now-defunct Arena League with the Georgia Doom.
Yamasaki- Nicknamed the “Japanese Kicking Monster” in his home country, he began his football career with the Osaka University Tridents in 2013. Yamasaki suited up in the US Spring League in 2019 and made seven of eight total field goal attempts, his longest coming from 58 yards out. Yamasaki’s Twitter page shows him successfully booting a 73-yarder during one training session.
Gustav- Originally from Hamburg, Germany, Gustav enjoyed a successful career at Morningside College (Iowa) and became the program’s all-time leader with 23.5 career sacks. Gustav also earned GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Defensive Player of the Week after a 56-22 win over Concordia in November of 2020.