April 26, 2018 2:40 pm

Edmonton Eskimos’ rookie defensive end Kwaku Boateng is ‘super excited’

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It was an off season of change for the Edmonton Eskimos defensive line. Gone are veteran defensive ends Odell Willis, Marcus Howard, Phillip Hunt and John Chick. Gone, but not forgotten.

The influence that group had on rookie Canadian defensive end Kwaku Boateng may be felt for years to come.

“It was huge for my career,” the six-foot, 250-pound Boateng said about playing and practising with that group.

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“I was learning so many things at once in such a short period of time. I can’t thank them enough — especially Odell and Phillip Hunt — for helping me change my game and make it pro-ready.”

Boateng was a quick study. In a back-up role last year, he had four sacks and 21 defensive tackles. He played well enough to figure into part of the decision to let those veteran defensive ends move on.

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos trade veteran defensive end Odell Willis

His plan for 2018 is to become a starter.

“That’s the goal. This year, the goal is to be the best defensive end.”

Last year, Boateng had a wide-eyed approach after being taken in the fifth round, 41st overall. His second training camp will be different.

“When I came to training camp last year, everything was brand new. Going through it for the second time will be a lot easier from the mental aspect.

“I know the playbook, we have most of the same coaching staff, there will be less of a mental stress and that’s a huge burden off my chest having that experience. I look forward to training camp for sure.”

READ MORE: John Chick announces retirement after eight CFL seasons

The Wilfrid Laurier product from Milton, Ont. was forced into making a tough decision last week. He chose not to attend Eskimos mini camp in Las Vegas. He stayed home instead to write final exams and finish his degree.

The freshly minted 23-year-old (his birthday is April 26) wasn’t there, but he did read reports and see teammates’ tweets from Vegas. He says that only makes him more anxious for main camp to arrive.

“I’m super excited right now. I’m excited to get on the field put on my helmet, get yelled at again and just rush the passer.

“I’m just so passionate about rushing the quarterback. I’m excited that this season there is an opportunity for me make an impact on defence.”

LISTEN: Esks DE Kwaku Boateng talks with Morley Scott

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