TORONTO -- It was not yet the crack of dawn, and Wilkerson DeSouza’s taxing routine had already begun. It started at 4 a.m. in the Mississauga home he shares with his mother and younger brother, and began in earnest at 7 a.m. when he arrived for his 10-hour construction shift.
Then he would sneak a 20-minute nap while riding the bus to his 4 p.m. training session with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ strength and conditioning coach, a session that included an hour of speed drills and an intensive weightlifting regimen.
All to prepare for his fourth season with the Varsity Blues, the last season before he would become the last pick in the CFL draft.
“I’d get home at like 9:30 at night,” said the Blues linebacker. “It was the hardest summer that I ever had to go through.”
Adversity has always been part of the game for DeSouza, who has worked to help out his single mother with groceries, and more recently the rent, since high school. And last week’s CFL draft was no different for the 25-year-old. Forty-four names came and went before the Calgary Stampeders ended the day by calling DeSouza’s name.
“The whole wait was a little brutal,” DeSouza said. “I guess God knows how to motivate me more. Everything that happens in my life, there’s always a reason for me to push harder and harder. Now I have an even bigger chip on my shoulder.”
DeSouza will need that motivation to persevere against considerable odds at the professional level, where the game is markedly faster and tougher, and rosters are crowded with U.S. imports — especially at his linebacker position.
He welcomes the tag “Mr. Irrelevant,” originally used to disparage the last pick in the NFL draft, but since adopted by other leagues and sports. He has never backed down from a challenge.
“As far as picking up the game at the next level, I don’t see a problem for Wilk,” said Univerity of Toronto head coach Greg Gary. “The thing I think he is going to bring right away is his motor … the energy that he plays with.”
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|