Following the Saskatchewan Huskies‘ last season on the gridiron in 2019, defensive back Nelson Lokombo was named the U Sports Defensive Player of the Year.
His outstanding performance that year was recently celebrated as Lokombo was named to the roster for the 2021 Shrine Bowl.
“The coaches talked to me about potentially making it to this game last year, at the end of last season, so it was a cool moment,” Lokombo said, “because I used to watch this game I use to watch the East-West Bowl.”
The game was set to be played Jan. 23 but was cancelled last October due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In normal circumstances, the game is a showcase for graduating players in the NCAA and has extended invites to Canadian players since 1985. Lokombo’s invite makes him the seventh Huskie player to be named to the roster, joining, among others, Huskies head coach Scott Flory.
“It’s exciting, it’s nerve-racking, it’s all those bits and pieces in front of the scouts and it’s your first real kind of pressure where you get that pressure of professional football and you get a little glimpse into it,” Flory said.
“Unfortunately, he won’t be able to partake in it, but it is still a great honour.”
Even with the game being cancelled, players will participate in virtual training sessions in conjunction with the NFL. The fourth-year Huskie will also use the honour as motivation to chase his dreams and join his older brother Bo in the Canadian Football League.
“I guess this motivates me and lets me know that us Canadians, and the players that play up north, can have an opportunity can play down south and showcase what we can do,” Lokombo said.
Flory said the Huskies are proud of Lokombo’s accomplishments.
“When you look at the culture of our football team and what we are doing in our locker room, you know he really embodies that, he embodies Huskie football,” Flory said.
“And we are so proud of him, and not only with what he’s done, but what he is going to do in the future.”