Strong, silent Onyeka one of three Hawks to earn all-Canadian honours

godfrey onyeka
Photo: Laurier Athletics

Christine Rivet
Waterloo Region Record

He’s a man of few words, unlike his vociferous cousin.

And so, Godfrey Onyeka’s on-field performance will have to do the talking for him.

In only his second season, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawk and Brampton product has soared to heights rarely attained by such a young player.

He is only one of two players in their freshman or sophomore seasons across the country to be named a first-team football all-Canadian this year.

On Thursday night, Onyeka, along with his Golden Hawk teammates, third-year defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng and graduating running back Dillon Campbell, were honoured by Canadian Interuniversity Sport with all-Canadian selections.

“I’m not really sure how I feel about (the honour),” Onyeka, Laurier’s splendid cornerback, said on the line from Quebec City on Thursday before he was presented with the honour at a banquet.

“Maybe I could answer that question next season when I get ready to do it again.”

Godfrey’s cousin, the frenetic Nakas Onyeka, a starting linebacker at Laurier, can be heard far and wide with his never-ending sideline chatter.

So, if Nakas is the Hawks’ official mouthpiece, Godfrey provides the team’s heartbeat, mostly silent but resolutely pumping his squad forward.

Godfrey, a health sciences major, recorded 25 solo tackles this season, his first career sack, an interception and two pass breakups.

He follows in former Golden Hawk and current CFLer Chris Ackie’s footsteps as Laurier’s second defensive back in two years to be named a first-team all-Canadian.

Godfrey, 21, does dial into his beast mode on the field.

“After a tackle, you will see me smiling and laughing out there,” said the six-foot-two, 200-pound cornerback.

Godfrey only got his start in the game a couple years ago as a high school senior, on his victory lap. Before that, his football experience was limited to tossing a ball around the backyard with Nakas and Godfrey’s brother Kene, now a defensive lineman at Carleton University.

Godfrey, who moved with his family from Nigeria to Canada at age 11, figures the Hawks’ best days are ahead.

So many of the team’s promising players return to the squad next year, including his cousin, Nakas, defensive back Malcolm Thompson and Boateng.

“You are out there doing what you love to do with all your friends. You can never go wrong with that.”

Campbell graduates from Laurier as the school’s all-time leading rusher and was named a first-team all-Canadian for the second straight year. The Whitby native commanded the nation in rushing yards for a second straight year, 1,115 yards on 186 carries without a fumble.

Boateng, of Milton, Ont., was a finalist for Canadian university’s lineman of the year award. He was named a second-team all-Canadian on Thursday.

The nation’s top award winners announced Thursday were: most valuable player, Calgary quarterback Andrew Buckley; outstanding standup defensive player, Guelph linebacker John Rush; top lineman, Manitoba nose tackle David Onyemata; rookie of the year, Laval defensive lineman Mathieu Betts; and coach of the year, Calgary’s Wayne Harris Jr.

The awards were announced in advance of Saturday’s Vanier Cup when the Montreal Carabins square off against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. (Sportsnet, 12:30 p.m.)

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