SportsLife 2016, Issue 2 - Page 19

David Onyemata: Brian Dobie’s Greatest Individual Success By Scott Taylor, Photos by Jeff Miller and Jason Halstead David Onyemata is in now playing around in the rarified air of the National Football League. In fact, after holding his own “pro day” at the University of Manitoba for more than 20 NFL scouts, Brian Dobie’s most successful “project” is now being touted as a late second-round or early third-round NFL draft pick. It’s been an incredible season for Onyemata. Of course, it’s been an incredible five-year journey. A Nigerian immigrant who never played a down of Canadian football when he knocked on University of Manitoba Bisons head coach Brian Dobie’s office door in 2011, Onyemata was named the 2015 winner of the J. P. Metras Trophy, awarded annually to the Outstanding Down Lineman in the CIS. He became the first Bisons’ lineman to win the Metras Trophy since Israel Idonije won it in 2002. Idonije went on to have a 10-year career in the National Football League. Onyemata is the fourth Bisons player to win the award. Along with Idonije, the Metras Trophy was also won by Bart Evans in 1974 and Jason Rauhaus in 1991. Rauhaus went on to play in the NCAA’s East West Shrine Game while Evans played six seasons in the CFL with Montreal, Hamilton and Winnipeg. Talk about good company. However, along with his Metras Trophy, Onyemata was also named to the 2015 CIS First All-Canadian Team. And no wonder. He recorded 50 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks. Like Rauhaus, he too, played in the EastWest Shrine Game—a showcase event for NFL talent evaluators—on Jan. 23, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. He’s now signed with Tom Brady’s agent, Carter Chow, and up until his NFL pro day – where he impressed all of those National Football League scouts – he had been working out at Exos football training facility in California. He’s played football for five seasons and he’s now up with the greatest Canadian players of all time. In fact, University of Manitoba Bisons head coach Brian Dobie believes Onyemata could be “The Next One.” First, Idonije made it to the NFL and now Dobie believes Onyemata, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound giant of an athlete, could be next. “We feel David is a can’t-miss CFL player who has a very legitimate chance to be a solid NFL player,” said Dobie with a straight face. “His offseason program is off the charts. “He has worked so hard on the field to learn the game. For a couple of years he was getting by on size and power and his athleticism and I mean athleticism. This guy is an athlete. Yeah, he’s huge and powerful, but he’s also an athlete. He is amazingly quick and he has NFL feet. Now he just needs to take a more cerebral approach to the game and he’s doing that.” Dobie will never forget the day Onyemata showed up at his office door. It was as if God himself had sent Dobie the official “Heir to Izzy.” “There was a knock on my door and when I opened it, I saw this 6-foot5, 320-pound monster standing in front of me and immediately I said, ‘I hope you’re a football player,’” Dobie laughed. “I can’t tell you how heartbroken I was when he said, ‘I’ve never played football in my life.’ But then he said he wanted to learn and that intrigued me.” It’s amazing how th [