NFL’s Chicago Bears signs Junior National team alumnus Betts to contract
A pair of national and provincial alumni invited to NFL mini-camps
By Ameeta Vohra
This weekend marked a major achievement in Junior National Team alumnus Mathieu Betts’ career.
While he did not get selected during the seven rounds of the 2019 National Football League (NFL) Draft, the 6’3, 254 pound defensive lineman from Montreal, Quebec signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears.
Betts helped Canada claim a silver medal at the 2014 IFAF World Junior Championships which were held in Kuwait. Additionally, he won gold with Team Quebec at the 2011 Football Canada Cup held in Lethbridge, Alberta.
This contract is the culmination of a busy but successful season for the defensive lineman. Last November, he played a significant role in RSEQ team Laval Rouge et Or’s success during the 2018 season as the team was crowned Vanier Cup 54 champions. During his time with the team, he helped them win three Vanier Cups in four seasons.
This past January, Betts represented USPORTS at the 94th East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Rouge et Or at the 2018 East-West Bowl.
Betts made history as the first player to win USPORTS; JP Metras Award as top lineman and to claim four major awards during his career (he was named USPORTS Rookie of the Year in 2015). He was only the second player to claim the same national honour (JP Metras Award) three consecutive times during his career. Moreover, Betts is a four-time USPORTS first team All-Canadian.
On the field, he is feared by opponents for his dominance, explosiveness and unique skills set. Betts dominated by leading the RSEQ in sacks by earning nine in six regular season games last fall as well as registering 14 tackles for a loss. After his four year career with the Rouge et Or, he now holds the RSEQ record for sacks with 35.5. Additionally, the defensive lineman racked up 74.5 tackles and registered 44.5 tackles for a loss.
Previous to the Rouge et Or, Betts suited up for CEGEP Division 1 team, Vieux-Montreal Spartiates, where he earned Defensive Player of the Year honours and was selected as an all-star. He played high school football for RSEQ Juvenile Division 1 team Notre Dame Cactus. Furthermore, he competed with the Lasalle Warriors.
Betts is the top ranked prospect in the 2019 CFL Draft which will be held this week.
Not only did Betts make an impression this weekend, but some other former Football Canada alumni received mini-camp invitations with NFL teams.
Offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais has accepted invitations from both the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 6’5, 325 pound offensive lineman from Belle River, Ontario won gold as a part of Canada’s Junior National Team at the 2016 IFAF World Junior Championship after the team defeated the United States in Harbin, China. He also represented the nation at the 2016 International Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
Desjarlais is the seventh ranked prospect for the 2019 CFL Draft which takes place on Thursday. In 2018, he represented USPORTS team Windsor Lancers at the 2018 East-West Bowl.
Previous to the Lancers, the offensive lineman suited up for the Belle River Nobles of the Windsor and Essex County Secondary School Athletic Association (WECSSAA) and Essex Ravens of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL). During his time with the Nobles, he was selected as WECSSAA Lineman of the Year and a league all-star.
Another notable alumni, receiver Chris Osei-Kusi has accepted an invitation from the Cleveland Browns.
The 6’2, 197 pound player from Brampton, Ontario represented Canada at the 2016 International Bowl in Arlington, Texas. In 2014, he helped Team Ontario win gold at the Football Canada Cup which was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
During his time with the Queen’s Gaels, Osei-Kusi was named an OUA All-Star. When representing the team at the 2018 East-West Bowl, he led the game in receiving yards.
Previous to the Gaels, Osei-Kusi played high school football for the Cardinal Ambrozic River Hawks of the Region of Peel Secondary School Athletic Association (ROPSSAA). Moreover, the receiver suited up for the Brampton Bulldogs of the Ontario Varsity Football League where he was selected as a league all-star.
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