TORONTO — For 2017 CFL Draft prospect Kay Okafor, leaving home for college meant leaving his country to do so.
Okafor was born and raised in Nigeria, but emigrated to Canada to pursue post-secondary education.
“I came from Nigeria to PEI for school,” said Okafor, who began at Holland College before joining St. Francis Xavier. “I tried out for the basketball team actually because I kind of love basketball but I didn’t make it. A couple of guys on the basketball team started talking to me about football.”
That’s when everything changed for the 6-foot-3, 273-pound defensive lineman. He left PEI and found a new home with the X-Men at St. FX in Nova Scotia.
Okafor talked to CFL.ca in a one-on-one interview at this year’s combine, which can be seen below:
“At first I liked it but I didn’t really like it,” Okafor recalls of his first memories of football. “I remember going to watch a game and it was just a lot of hitting. It just didn’t make sense to me. That was the hardest part of everything. I really had to sit down and understand the game of football.”
But once he did understand the game, Okafor quickly became one of the top prospects in the country.
In his four seasons with the X-Men, he collected 29 solo tackles, 24 assisted tackles and 6.5 sacks. His best season was the 2016-17 campaign where he totaled a career high 4.5 sacks and 17 total tackles over eight games.
At the 2017 CFL Combine presented by Adidas, Okafor tied for fifth in the bench press with 30 reps. He also moved up on the third and final CFL Scouting Bureau ranking from 19 to 15.
Despite Okafor being so far away from his friends and family back home, he knows it’ll be worth it if he gets drafted on May 7.
“I haven’t seen family in a long time but at the same time, they understand, they get it, they support me,” he said. “It’s just a driving factor. I always think about my family and just think about all of the benefits coming from all of the sacrifices that we’ve both made on different sides.”