Ihekwoaba and Allen pursue pro careers

McMaster University.

Oddly enough that’s where it all started for two of Laurier’s finest and highly-touted 2010 draftees.

“We met [during] a recruiting trip to McMaster and we’ve been homeboys ever since,” joked the Detroit Lions’ newest defensive lineman Chima Ihekwoaba.

Luckily for the Golden Hawks, Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) stars Ihekwoaba and Taurean Allen decided to come to Laurier.

The tantalizing defensive pair made the switch last minute, persuaded by an impressive recruiting class that boasted the likes of running back Mike Montoya and wide receiver Josh Bishop, as well as linebacker Giancarlo Rapanaro who signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Ihekwoaba and Allen have not only been teammates, but have become good friends throughout the last four years at Laurier. They train together, live together and they even have the same major: communication studies.

“Chima [Ihekwoaba] and I both had the same vision and pushed each other along the way,” said Allen who has signed with the Calgary Stampeders.

“Football consumed our [lives]. Being drafted is now an opportunity to perform at the highest level and confirm all the positive things scouts saw during the evaluation process.”

In May 2’s CFL draft, defensive back Allen was drafted in the second round 13th overall, and Ihekwoaba followed back-to-back going 14th overall to the Montreal Alouettes.

While Allen took in the news at his Etobicoke home amongst family and friends, Ihekwoaba was stuck at the airport.

“I was at the Detroit airport coming back from the Lions’ mini camp,” he laughed. “My brother was texting me giving me updates.”

In addition to being touted as a top CFL prospect, Ihekwoaba had also been drawing attention south of the border, and shortly after attending mini camp in Detroit signed a three year free agent contract with the Lions.

Both draftees put up big numbers at the CFL combine back in March.

Allen finished second in both the 40 yard dash and shuttle run, while Ihekwoaba completed a 41” vertical jump, which was higher than any defensive lineman who took part in the NFL combine – and that’s after undergoing surgery on an injured shoulder that kept him sidelined for the majority of his senior season.

Getting drafted is just the next step in the process for Ihekwoaba and Allen.

Both will continue training and conditioning throughout the summer and then attend their respective teams’ training camps attempting to crack the final roster.

“Hard work got me here and it will sure keep me going,” said Allen.

Ihekwoaba agreed.

“I’ve just scratched the surface of where I want to be. I’ve set my goals really high and I know I’m definitely on the right track.”

One of the biggest perks for Ihekwoaba in the NFL will be the salary figures.

An entry level starting salary in the NFL is US$325,000, and even if he only makes the team’s practice roster he’s guaranteed US$90,000. That’s compared to a first round CFL pick’s salary of CAN$90,000. However, that’s not something that the modest Ihekwoaba is concerned with.

“I don’t really look at the salary,” he said.

“If you look at the extrinsic value of the sport I don’t think you’ll focus as hard on becoming better or becoming the best.”