VICTORIA — Based strictly on his sheer physical measurements, Victoria’s Dontae Bull fits the bill of any talent evaluator looking for an offensive lineman with the potential to excel at the NCAA Div. 1 level and carry that momentum to the NFL.
Yet perhaps the most important facts to emerge from Wednesday’s NCAA Signing Day, in which the 6-foot-7, 305-pound Belmont Secondary Bulldogs standout inked his future with the Fresno State Bulldogs centred not around his perfect surname, but rather his athletic adaptability.
“I talked to a lot of NCAA coaches through this whole recruiting process,” Belmont head coach Alexis Sanschagrin said, “and every time they learn that Dontae also plays basketball, it’s a big plus. You can hear the added enthusiasm in their voices. Physically, they already know what they’ve got, but if you tell them about a multi-sport kid, they love it. It’s an endorsement because of the agility that it brings.
“There is a big pool of big men,” Sanschagrin continued, “but there is a much smaller pool of big men who can move. Basketball helps and the I can tell you this, the benefits far outweight the risk of injury.”
Smaller skill-position players are more apt to play other sports. But the linemen who played basketball and played it well?
Here’s two from the past: Bobby Singh (Richmond Colts, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors), Justin Sorensen (Ballenas Whalers, South Carolina Gamecocks).
Now consider this: Last season, Bull, who had never played organized basketball at any level, went out for the senior varsity as a Grade 11, made the team and proceeded to average over 20 points and over 20 rebounds per game.
This season, he is basically doing the same thing again.
And as another point of interest:
Last season, Abbotsford receiver Chase Claypool scored 51 points on the basketball court a few days signing his football offer with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
This season, a few days before he inked his own deal, Bull laced up the high tops and dropped 41 points on Abbotsford’s Yale Lions.
TOUGH SENIOR SEASON
Bull really didn’t make an issue of it, but he played 95 per cent of his team’s offensive and defensive snaps this past season with a knee injury suffered last June.
Accompanying the rest of his Belmont team for a camp at Seattle’s Kings High, Bull took a helmet to the knee that he continued to play through. He likely aggravated it just a few days later when he traveled directly from Seattle to Spokane to play with the Bulldogs basketball team at the Gonzaga Bulldogs summer tournament, which featured 120 teams.
“I came down with a rebound and although it didn’t hurt at the time,” said Bull, “I think I injured my IT band.”
Bull persevered, and when the high school football season began in September, he was lined up at the nose on defence and at a tackle spot on offence.
“He literally has the NFL’s prototype size to play (offensive) tackle,” says Sanschagrin. “And with four years of university weight-lifting and training, he can be exactly one of those best-of-the-best guys. I believe that he can go as far as his mind allows him to go. His body has all the tools necessary to be something very special.”
At the high school level, Bull dominated on both sides of the ball.
As a nose tackle on defence, he demanded regular double- and triple-team attention.
At the season-ending awards banquet, Bull was named Subway Bowl Triple-A Defensive Player of the Year.
Playing along the offensive line, however, is where he has always been most comfortable.
“I’m not fast enough to play defensive end and I am too tall to play defensive tackle,” Bull says. “But for an NFL offensive tackle, I am at the 80th percentile for NFL arm length (36 inches, and his are 34.5 inches).”
They are all just numbers, of course, but in the end, Bull is going to work to try to make his NFL dream come true.
“That’s the goal,” he says, “but right now it just feels really good to have made my (college) decision. The recruiting was really stressful. As a kid, everybody wants it. It’s the one time in your life everybody comes after you, so you don’t want to make the wrong decision. It was a hard one, but I liked being in Fresno, and in the end, it kind of reminded me of Victoria.”
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