Imagine Brayden Dickey’s surprise upon hearing he wasn’t the lone Canadian in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
He’s actually one of three. Dickey, who recently changed his legal last name from Lenius, will have company in Penn State’s Daniel Joseph and Jonathan Sutherland.
“Oh really?,” Dickey said. “I didn’t know that.”
Around 36 million people live in Canada and the nation has a total of 17 players who are bowl game rosters this season.
Dickey is from North Vancouver, B.C. Joseph is from Brampton, a Toronto suburb while Ottawa is Sutherland’s hometown.
Hockey is and will always remain Canada’s national game. Basketball continues to rise either through the development of stars like Andrew Wiggins or because of the Toronto Raptors’ recent success.
Football has a place in Canada. There’s the Canadian Football League. Canada also has its variation of the collegiate game. Twenty-seven teams play in what’s known as U Sports football but its not on the same level as the NCAA in the United States.
Players like Dickey and Joseph often have to leave home to receive attention from major American programs.
Dickey moved to Los Angeles to live with family and was more visible to college coaches. Joseph said he initially played basketball but gave football a try while attending Lake Forest Academy in the Chicagoland area.
“My intentions were to stick with basketball but as God ordained it, I ended up playing football and becoming more of a football guy,” Joseph said. “The seasons were different and they didn’t overlap. I was able to play football in the fall and then basketball in the winter.”
Joseph said he and Sutherland may not personally know other Canadians in college football but they are aware that there’s more.
He said once they’ve met others like them, the goal is to make a connection and build that bond.
Dickey said he was so excited about the prospect of meeting his fellow countryman, that he was going to try to either find or create a makeshift Canadian flag so they can take a photo together.
“Now, the schools are going up to Canada to recruit now,” Dickey said. “Each year, it’s more and more and these kids are getting more opportunities because the coaches are going up there and recruiting them.
“We have good players in Canada.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark