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Dutch prospect Vrede on getting drafted: ‘It would mean a lot to me’

TORONTO — Growing up in the Netherlands, Tyron Vrede began playing soccer at a young age, but after a family friend gifted him a Madden video game, he began to become invested in football. 

“I was kind of like, ‘This game is interesting. I’ve never heard of it,’ and I kind of liked it. So whenever I stepped out on a field, I kind of had a head start on everybody else,” Vrede said. “So I kind of knew the ins and out. I knew what a slant route was, I knew what a go route was. Just from there, I started to fall in love with the game, and it kind of took off from there.”

Just a few months after learning about the game, a 16-year-old Vrede was playing flag football, which led him on a journey that took him West to North America. 

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In the Netherlands, there is no high school football. There are club teams that players can sign up for, and there are U-14, U-16, and U-19 teams for the national program.

Vrede suited up for the Dutch national team, travelling the country and Europe to play against different countries. But he admittedly had an affinity for the United States, and when his football career began to take him to higher levels, he knew he could get on the radars of American schools.

He was selected to play for Team World against Team USA U-19, which gave him some great exposure to the competition he might face in North America. 

“What I needed to show to colleges — or anyone outside of the Netherlands — that I could play at a high level,” Vrede said. “The level of play isn’t as high compared to the United States and Canada, so I needed to show that I could play at that level, and that’s kind of what I did at that point and then it got really serious for me.”

He opted to go the Junior College route, attending camps in Germany to catch the eye of coaches, and he started emailing teams to get his chance. That eventually landed him an opportunity with West Hills Community College in Coalinga, California. After winning a bowl game with the Falcons, he moved on to another JUCO, this time, it was Garden City CC in Kansas in 2017. The school was featured on Last Chance U that year. 

His one year with the program helped vault him into a Division I opportunity with the University of North Dakota. 

Vrede spent the final two years with the Fighting Hawks, posting 56 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

With the CFL season quickly approaching, Vrede will be included in the league’s Global Combine, which will give him a chance to make the jump to professional football north of the border. 

“To be drafted by a CFL team this year. It would mean a lot to me. It’s going to mean that a lot of hard work, sweat, tears, and blood have been put in, not only by me, but the people around me that have supported me throughout the years,” Vrede said. “It’s not just going to be for me but for other people too. There are enough people that have been in my situation or are going to be in my situation. The European kid who was not really getting looked at by schools and had to find a way, by any means.

“I think that God has a plan and this has definitely been the plan. For me to be drafted would be amazing. It would be the next step in my career and we can just work from there.”

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