Orleans (Ontario) St. Peter defensive end Eli Ankou participated in the NLA 7-on-7 passing tournament this past weekend, with a select group of standouts from his area. The idea is to get a test against the best competition possible, even if it means having to leave the country.
"We tell ourselves that it's football, it's pure football," Ankou said. "All you have to do is compete, and we'll see what happens. It's really interesting to bring guys out all the way over here, see what it's like; different cultures and what not. It's nice. It's really nice."
It's worked out pretty well so far for a player like Ankou, who is a 6-3, 245-pound defensive end. Ankou estimates that at his school, 50 percent of the boys in his grade play hockey, with two percent of those players heading off to the NHL. Roughly 15 percent of the boys in his grade play football, of which some aspire to play football collegiately, in most cases in Canada. Compared to percentages in the United States, it's the opposite—the larger percentage of boys in a given high school class play football, while a smaller group play hockey.
There have been some cases where a player from Canada draws enough interest from the states to earn a scholarship from the NCAA. Ankou is the latest to do that, as he has an offer from UCLA. He adds that Pittsburgh was the first school he heard from.
"They were the first school to contact me," Ankou said. "That really shows a lot. It was letters to my school. I was really surprised."
He adds that he'd actually like to learn a little more about the Panthers too.
"Definitely, it would be a possibility to come down for a camp," Ankou said. "I could definitely see doing that this summer. Definitely, Pitt has been one of my top schools. As far as football, I know a couple of things. They send information, and things like that. I've been doing a bit of research, but it's been very busy so far."
Among some of the other schools Ankou has heard from, include Rutgers, Virginia, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Buffalo. This past season, he helped his school to an 8-1 record, and a place in the city finals.