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UMaine player selected in CFL draft

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UMaine player selected in CFL draft (photo courtesy University of Maine)

Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga picked by Edmonton Eskimos

Former University of Maine Black Bear linebacker Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga’s football future might be located north of the border.

The linebacker – who grew up in Canada – was taken in the third round of the Canadian Football League’s draft. He was the 22nd selection overall.

Over the course of his Black Bear career, Tshimanga made nearly 350 tackles. He was the 2013 CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year and had a big final season in Orono, leading the team in tackles with just shy of 100 in 10 games to go with seven tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.

It’s no surprise that Tshimanga was taken; he was one of the more highly-ranked prospects going into this year’s draft. With the CFL’s requirements regarding roster composition – of a team’s 41 non-quarterbacks, at least 21 must be Canadian nationals – a guy who played NCAA football at a high level is incredibly valuable. In fact, some pundits had him ranked as high as sixth overall among all draftable players.

So why did he wind up falling to the third round? Well, that actually indicates a real belief in his talent.

See, Tshimanga received an invite to rookie mini-camp with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If he hadn’t, or if CFL GMs didn’t believe he had a shot at opening some eyes while he was there, he’d might well have gone significantly earlier. Instead, he’s viewed more as a potential futures pick, a player who they might be able to sign if he fails to stick in the NFL. In Tshimanga, Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland lands one of this draft’s most coveted linebackers.

Obviously, none of this matters if Tshimanga manages to stick with the Bucs or another NFL team, but it has to be nice to know that there’s a landing spot for him in Edmonton. And since he grew up playing the game in Canada, he’s doubtless familiar with the many subtle (and some not-so-subtle) differences between their game and ours.

If he does wind up playing the CFL, there’s a good chance he won’t be the only former Black Bear plying his trade up there. Former cornerback Sherrod Baltimore was an international signee by the reigning Grey Cup champion Ottawa REDBLACKS, while former kicker Sean Decloux – an Ottawa native – was only recently cut by the team and could easily catch on with another squad.

This year’s CFL draft saw Iowa defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie taken first overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. UCLA linebacker Cameron Judge went second to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, while the BC Lions took standout McMaster receiver Daniel Vandervoort third.

CFL training camps begin near the end of May. Preseason games start in early June; the season kicks off on June 22 when the Roughriders pay a visit to the Montreal Alouettes.

Last modified on Thursday, 11 May 2017 10:13


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