More than Meets the Eye

In upsetting the heavily-favored United States in the gold medal game of the IFAF U-19 World Championship, Brantford (ON) offensive lineman David Knevel, who holds offers from Missouri and Wisconsin, and his teammates proved that Canada is known for more than 'hockey, maple syrup and Justin Bieber.'

MADISON - It's turns out that Canadians can play pretty American good football.

Although a country of 34.1 million people only had five high schools commit to a college in the Class of 2012, the Canadians upset the tournament-favorite United States at its own game, 23-17, in the 2012 IFAF U-19 World Championship held in Austin, Texas, on July 7.

"Coming into the tournament, we were looking to unify and play together, which was exactly what our coaches and our players emphasized," said Canadian offensive lineman David Knevel. "We emphasized that we needed to start off strong and stay strong. Our coach always said the score was 0-0 to make sure we never stopped the engine."

That's not the only thing head coach Noel Thorpe emphasized. Before the gold medal game against the United States, Thorpe told his team that all Canada was known for was ‘hockey, maple syrup and Justin Bieber,' and that it was time to be known for their level of football.

As a result, Canada avenged its 41-3 loss in the inaugural World Championship tournament and handed the U.S. national team its first ever loss in international competition.

"The excitement was crazy," Knevel recalled. "We're really good at football and we take it seriously."

The experience was just another chapter in the growing book of the 6-9, 290-pound offensive lineman David Knevel, who plays high school football at Pauline Johnson Vocational School in Ontario and plans to make another impact on American soil when he enrolls at a BCS campus in January. One of the lucky few to have received college offers, Knevel currently has an offer from Missouri and one from Wisconsin; an offer he received last month after the Badgers' summer camp.

"It was pretty surreal," said Knevel. "I didn't expect to get as much interest as I did. I went into the camp wanting to learn a lot and have fun, but I started to notice that the coaches were more interested as camp went on. I hadn't heard from them in awhile but I was amazed with the school and how impressed coach Markuson was with how I can play. I really like his coaching style and used everything he said in one-on-one drills. It's one of those days were everything was clicking."

Unlike past trips when either just his father or mother made the trip, Knevel had both parents on the Wisconsin campus for his camp, making it even better when he sat down with head coach Bret Bielema and received his scholarship offer.

"I don't know how to explain it. It's crazy," said Knevel. "It's a great school with great people that gives students a lot of great things academically. To get an offer from them is just amazing. I felt like a kid in a toy shop talking to a famous college coach I watch on TV. It was awesome."

A lot has changed on the recruiting surface since Knevel got his offer. The Badgers picked up three more verbal commitments for the 2013 class, including three-star offensive lineman Matt Miller. With Wisconsin having roughly five scholarships and still looking to take a running back, one to two defensive backs and possibly a quarterback, it appears UW doesn't have a spot for Knevel.

Not so, according to the three-star tackle rated No.95 in the country by Scout.com, who says his weekly talks with offensive line coach Mike Markuson.

"They are still talking like I could come there if I want to, so there's been no talk of them being out of room," said Knevel. "He hasn't said anything about it."

After originally wanting to commit to a school before his fall season, Knevel wants to visit Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest before making his decision.

"I want to take all my visits, think about it for a week and make my decision," said Knevel. "I don't want to rush it, but I want to focus on my season as much as possible."


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