Onyeka, Guzylak-Messam and Henry get selected at the CFL Draft


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In this year’s Canadian Football League (CFL) draft, three Laurier Golden Hawks were selected: Godfrey Onyeka, Isaiah Guzylak-Messam and Rashari Henry.

Having one player from Laurier drafted is an achievement, having three drafted is outstanding.

This is the second year in a row where three players have been drafted from the Hawk team.

The Hawks once again made it to the Yates Cup final this past year and although they weren’t able to repeat as OUA champions, having three players drafted into the CFL is a testament to the amazing season they had.

Onyeka was the highest Golden Hawk selected as the Edmonton Eskimos took him tenth overall in the second round.

This doesn’t come as a surprise as Onyeka was arguably the best player on an excellent Hawks defence this past year.

Onyeka was recognized as an OUA First Team All-Star and he was expected to get selected towards the top of the draft.

Isaiah Guzylak-Messam and Rashari Henry also had very impressive seasons with the Hawks and their outstanding performances were why they were selected in the fourth and sixth round respectively.

Henry discussed what makes the Hawks football program so successful.

“It just shows how well they develop players and what pros are looking for. I know they’re always preaching what’s expected at the next level,” Henry said, regarding this draft class.

“They’re kind of getting you ready for this moment and it’s definitely a great honour to continue the tradition, and show that all that hard work that coaches put in that’s as well paying off, and hopefully you can have the same success at the professional level,” he added.

“Ask around and get as much information as you can and prepare yourself as much as possible. Because it is a very big process and without proper preparation you’re kind of at a disadvantage, so I’d say prepare, prepare, prepare.”

Guzylak-Messam and Henry were both selected to the BC Lions. Although they play different positions, both play on the defensive side of the ball.

“But being out here with Isaiah has been really good, just having someone who I’m familiar with that I’m comfortable with that I can kind of go through the whole process together and learn from each other, give each other pointers and just kind of progress together,” Henry said.

Having Guzylak-Messam and Henry on the same defence was a huge advantage for the Hawks this year because of their combined abilities to constantly come up with big plays.

They will now look to continue their camaraderie at the professional level.

Familiarity with each other will serve them well as they adjust into their new roles on the BC Lions defence.

The draft is over now and, with it, all the uncertainty that accompanies it.

All that is left now for those who were selected is to work hard to contribute as much as possible to the club that gave them their first shot at the professional game.

“Now it’s just about progressing every day. I think once you get here, you kind of have to adjust from university to professional. And that’s not only the physicality of it — it’s the mental aspect, so they demand a lot more of you and mistakes aren’t very tolerable, so you got to be on top of your game mentally and physically,” Henry said, on his post draft mindset.

Henry will be looking to contribute to the BC Lions Football Club and to do this he aims to bring physicality and intelligence to the table.

“I’d say I definitely bring physicality and just my mental aspect I think I am a smart player. I can take criticism and direction very well … I give it my all every time. So that’s the type of player I think I am and what I bring to BC Lions,” Henry said.

Henry was always a problem for opposing offensive lines during his time with the Hawks due to his never say die attitude and that is a trait that cannot be taught.

Now that the draft process is over, Henry will benefit from his experience.

Now armed with hindsight, he is in a position to give some advice for future Golden Hawk draft hopefuls.

“I would say you definitely want to have everything laid out in front of you; whether it’s who you’re going to train with, where you’re going to eat or what teams are looking for. Sometimes you switch positions once you get to professional level, so it’s good to ask around … especially people that are in the league already,” Henry said.

“Ask around and get as much information as you can and prepare yourself as much as possible. Because it is a very big process and without proper preparation you’re kind of at a disadvantage, so I’d say prepare, prepare, prepare.”

The Cord reached out to Godfrey Onyeka and Isaiah Guzylak-Messam but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.

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