Maurice Simba not taking NFL draft for granted

Offensive lineman held pro day for scouts in Lachine

Maurice Simba has taken another step towards his dream of playing professional football. The Stingers’s offensive lineman held a pro day for NFL scouts at the Catalogna Soccerplexe in Lachine on March 12.

“Personally, I think I’m very satisfied the way the day went,” Simba said. “I can say I gave all I could, and I hope the scouts saw that and liked it. I’m looking forward to what will happen.”

Simba’s 6’8” frame is taller than the average NFL lineman. Photo by Nicholas Di Giovanni.

Scouts from the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and New York Jets tested Simba through various drills. He bench pressed 25 reps of 225 pounds, had a 19-inch vertical jump, a broad jump of six feet, 11 inches, and ran his 40-yard dash in 5.99 seconds.   

“For sure I would have liked to run a 4.4 [in the 40-yard dash] but it’s hard to do when you weigh 343 pounds; it’s just not realistic,” the six-foot-eight lineman jokingly told reporters. “As an athlete, you have to be great everyday, so that’s why I train. What I did today won’t change anything, and I’m just going to continue working hard.”

The lineman just finished his fourth season with the Stingers, and has been attracting scouts throughout the year. The CFL ranked Simba as the 18th-best Canadian prospect, and fifth-best offensive lineman in their September 2018 list. They ranked him 11th on their prospects list in December 2018 for the draft in May.

Scouts from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs attended several Stingers games this past season. In January, Simba played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in California alongside some of the best American prospects.

“I always keep my head down and I don’t take anything for granted,” Simba said. “The NFL is not granted for me, nothing is set that I’m going to play in the NFL […]. Any opportunity I have, whether it be in the CFL or NFL, I’m just grateful to be here.”

Simba’s journey to become a football player is quite impressive. Born in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Simba moved to Quebec at 18 years old to rejoin his mother, who left home when he was three. The 24-year-old barely knew what American football was when he came here, but has been playing for six years.

“I’m very lucky for what’s happened in my life the past couple of years,” Simba said. “This [pro day] is a way for me to say thank you to Concordia University and to the city of Montreal for giving me these opportunities. For an immigrant like me who arrived [six] years ago, to get these chances, it really means a lot.”

Simba normally played left tackle this season, but admits he would be able to play anywhere along the offensive line if asked. The scouts had him do drills for both the left and right tackle positions.

“Right now, I want to play everywhere. If you pay me, I can play centre,” Simba added. “I’m too broke right now; I just want to help my mom. But honestly, I just want to show scouts [that] if they give me a chance, I’ll show them I can play, whether at guard or tackle.”

Simba will attend the CFL national combine in Toronto from March 22 to 24. The NFL draft is on April 25, while the CFL has theirs on May 2. “If I get drafted [in the NFL], thank God,” Simba said. “But in my head right now, to not be disappointed, if I don’t get drafted, I just want to an invitation to a rookie mini-camp to prove what I can do. If the coach tells me no, I’m still a Canadian citizen and I can play in the CFL.”

Simba ran the shuttle run drill in 5.76 seconds. Photo by Nicholas Di Giovanni.
Simba trying to follow Canadian lineman

A scout from the Kansas City Chiefs visited Montreal in the fall, and that team isn’t shy about drafting Canadian linemen. They drafted Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, where he’s been their starting guard since the 2015 season. Duvernay-Tardif is one of 12 Canadians who played in the NFL last season.

“He’s one of the most impressive guys I’ve ever seen,” said Simba about Duvernay-Tardif. “He really taught me humility. I met with him last year and the first thing he told me was thanks to my size, I have a shot.”

Simba said Duvernay-Tardif taught him what it takes to play in the NFL. “Even when scouts came to watch me last season, he told me, ‘Play your game as if they weren’t there,’” Simba said. “He’s a good mentor for me, and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Simba also said he would like to see more Canadians and U Sports players get a shot in the NFL, but they need more visibility first. “My goal is to give chances to other guys that the scouts could see,” Simba said. “Yeah, this year it was [me], but hopefully next year they will be back.”  

Main photo by Nicholas Di Giovanni.


Stingers lose fourth straight game at home versus Redmen

Concordia takes 23 penalties in loss

The Concordia Stingers football team started their game against the McGill Redmen with a 10-0 lead before even going on defence. Despite this, they still lost their fourth-straight game 31-19 at the Concordia Stadium Saturday afternoon.

“We stopped playing,” said head coach Brad Collinson. “We got complacent when we had the lead.”

After Andrew Stevens scored a field goal on the Stingers’s opening drive, Redmen returner Pearce Dumay fumbled on the ensuing kick-off. The Stingers capitalized with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Yanic Lessard to grab a 10-0 lead before having to play defence.

Stingers mascot Buzz joined the cheerleading team. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

The Stingers played strong for the rest of the first quarter, and took a 17-2 lead when linebacker Samuel Brodrique returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown. Their lead grew to 17 points in the second quarter before McGill scored two field goals and a touchdown to go into halftime down 19-15. That’s when the Redmen started gaining momentum in the game.

“[McGill] started playing and we were sitting back on our laurels,” Collinson said. “We were happy that we were up and we just didn’t continue playing. That’s what it comes down to, it’s not rocket science.”

The Stingers didn’t score at all during the second half. The Redmen won the game with the strong running plays, as running back Donavan Martel led the game with 112 yards on 15 rushes. Quarterback Dimitrios Sinodinos also rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter, which gave the Redmen their first lead of the game.  

Penalties were another big factor in the loss. The Stingers had 23 penalties for a total of 215 yards—almost two lengths of the field. The Redmen had 11 penalties for 105 yards, which upset the home fans. Collinson said the undisciplined play wasn’t the deciding factor in the game, but offensive lineman Maurice Simba said it was demoralizing.

“We had three or four bad drives [with penalties] and obviously we got down,” Simba said. “But we just had to tell ourselves to keep playing.”

Despite the rivalry between McGill and Concordia, players on both teams were reminded that football is just a game. In the third quarter, Sinodinos threw a pass for wide receiver Jeremy Sauvageau in the end zone, who had to dive to try to make the grab. He couldn’t catch it, and as the players were going back to the line of scrimmage, he remained down, motionless. McGill’s trainers ran to attend to him right away, and he eventually walked off the field.

“Those are unfortunate moments that you don’t want to see on the playing field,” Collinson said. “But it is the reality of the sport.”

“No matter the colours he’s wearing, it hurts us to see it,” Simba added. “I can’t imagine what they went through seeing their teammate like that. I hope he’s okay.”

Wide receiver Jarryd Taylor was held to a single catch for six yards. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

With the loss, the Stingers now have a 2-5 record, tied with the Redmen. They sit in the fourth and last playoff spot, ahead of the 1-5 Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or, who they beat in September. The Stingers travel to Sherbrooke on Oct. 27 in the last game of the regular season.

“We’re still in it and we still have a chance to make the playoffs,” Collinson said. “It’s up to [the players] on whether they want to pack it in or come out ready for another hard-fought battle in Sherbrooke next week.”

Main photo by Hannah Ewen.


Stingers put smiles on kids faces at Shriners

Shrine Bowl to hit $1-million mark

Preparations for the 32nd annual Shrine Bowl, benefiting the Shriners Hospital for Children, are underway. A few players of the Concordia Stingers football team made the yearly visit to the hospital on Sept. 26. With this year’s donations, the total amount of  money raised from the Shrine Bowl will hit the $1 million mark.

Head coach Brad Collinson, cornerback Khadeem Pierre, linebacker Jersey Henry, defensive tackle Brandon Pacheco, centre Marc-Antoine Sevigny, and defensive linemen Maurice Simba and Michael Sanelli all participated in the hospital visit.

Maurice Simba (foreground) said he enjoys putting smiles on kids’ faces. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The players visit to patients throughout the hospital was accompanied by this year’s Shrine Bowl King and Queen, Saoud, 16, and Victoria,14, who are also patients at the Shriners. All of the players involved in this year’s walk around the hospital expressed how much they enjoy the experience and being able to interact with the patients.

“It’s been an honour to participate in this event every year,” Sanelli said. “I realize how blessed we are to play the sport. You put a smile on the kid’s face and brighten up their day and it’s an honour.”

Simba also said it’s great to make the kids happy and to see a smile on their faces. “I think it’s good that we do this as a program and on a personal level too,” he said.

“Seeing kids and making them happy is a big deal,” Pierre added. “It’s nice to give back.”

David Merrett, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors, expressed his feelings on being able to reach that one-million-dollar mark.

“The people who started this way back never would have imagined raising this amount because it just seemed unreachable,” Merrett said. “But as the years went on, and the dollar changed, it seemed reachable.”

Michael Sanelli, Marc-Antoine Sevigny and Brandon Pacheco all made the trip to the hospital. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The Honorary Chairman of the event this year is former Stingers head coach Gerry McGrath. He coached the team from 2000 to 2013, and played in the CFL for the Montreal Alouettes, Montreal Concordes and Saskatchewan Roughriders for six years.

“I’ve been involved with the Shriners and this game for many years,” McGrath said. “It’s always special to see what they’ve done and see it get to the one million mark.”

The Stingers play in the Shrine Bowl at home on Sept. 30 against the Université de Laval Rouge et Or. Canadian singer Sara Diamond will perform the Canadian national anthem, and deliver a special halftime performance. Kick-off is at 2 p.m., with money raised from ticket sales donated to the Shriners Hospital for Children.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.


Maurice Simba is a giant football prospect

Fourth-year trying to stay humble with scouts watching

On Aug. 30, the Canadian Football League (CFL) announced the top-20 prospects for the 2019 CFL draft. Maurice Simba, offensive lineman on the Concordia Stingers, was ranked 18th on the list of top Canadian prospects from U Sports and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

“It was special for me and I had tears on my face,” Simba said. “My goal now is to work harder to be number one and the best at my position.”

Simba stands at a commanding six feet eight inches, weighing almost 320 pounds. The Stingers’s offensive lineman is a pure powerhouse, and as described by fellow lineman Matt Halbgewachs, a true leader.

“I think of him as like our spark plug, once Maurice gets going, we all get going,” Halbgewachs said.

Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Simba lived there with his grandparents until he was 18 years old. After that, he moved to Montreal to reunite with his parents. He had never played football and had a different idea of what his life and career in Canada would be like when he arrived.

“My first thought when I came here was that I was going to be a plumber,” Simba said. “I guess God had a different plan for me. My uncle was friends with a coach in Cégep at Montmorency. They set up a meeting and said I was going to play football. So, then my mind changed to ‘now I’m going to be a football player.’”

Simba began his path in football in 2013 with the Montmorency Nomades before joining the Stingers in 2015. Under the watchful eyes of Stingers offensive line coach Ted Karabatsos, Simba learned and excelled at the game.

Despite the guidance and proper coaching, Simba didn’t play much in his first year as a Stinger. This was in part due to his lack of experience, and because he started out with a gentle demeanor. Simba sat down with Karabatsos about why he wasn’t playing as much, and the coach said it was because he was soft, but offered up a great motivator.

“The most disrespectful thing a coach could say is you’re soft,” Simba said. “He told me one thing though: ‘If I walk into your house, you’re there and your mom is there, and I slap your mom. You’re just going to let me go?’ I said no. He said ‘every single play from now, imagine that guy in front of you [that you’re] supposed to block, imagine that guy walks into your house and tries to beat your mom.’”

Simba said that’s why he plays like he’s mad every play, because if someone were to touch his mom, he would make them pay twice.

This past May, both Simba and Halbgewachs were selected to take part in the annual East-West Bowl. The Bowl is a seven-day camp for CFL prospects that includes rigorous training exercises and a game. The camp is also heavily watched by scouts in the CFL and National Football League (NFL).

“It was really fun,” Simba said. “I feel very fortunate to [have been] selected for it. There were a lot of guys eligible on the team and I feel bad for them, because I felt that at least ten guys from Concordia should have gone. I thank God for that, and my coaches.”

Although a future in football looks bright for Simba, he still aims to complete his schooling. He is currently enrolled in the leisure science program, having transferred from religion last year, and he has some extra incentive to finish his schooling.

“Your football career could end in one second, so I realized being in university with the full scholarship, I’ve got to get my degree,” Simba said.

He added that, even if he ends up playing professionally, he wants to return to school every winter to complete his degree, because he promised his mom. “When I make a promise to her, it’s something I’m going to do.”

Even though Simba will be heavily watched by football scouts this season, he doesn’t believe he needs to prove himself to anyone else.

“It’s not fair to say that I’m proving myself to anyone but me,” Simba said. “We all work together and it’s not fair to say I work harder than anyone else. My goal every day when I step into that complex is I want to be better than the guy I was yesterday. Doesn’t matter how good practice was yesterday, I want to do better the next day.”

With an opportunity in the CFL and the potential for a shot in the NFL on the horizon, Simba’s focus remains on the season at hand at Concordia. From his humble beginnings in the Congo, to now being one of the top-20 prospects in Canada, his story of perseverance and heart is one to be admired.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, keep learning, stay humble and take it all day-by-day.”

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier. 


Stingers humbled by Carabins with 74-3 loss

Concordia hasn’t given up this many points since 2014

The Concordia Stingers football team lost 74-3 to the Université de Montréal Carabins Saturday at the Concordian Stadium. The Stingers haven’t allowed this many points in a game since they lost to the Université de Laval Rouge et Or during the 2014 playoffs.

“We got beat,” head coach Brad Collinson said after the game.

The Stingers played well at the start of the game, holding the Carabins to a field goal in the first 20 minutes. Even though their defence was playing well, Concordia’s offence didn’t generate much, despite scoring a field goal early on. The game was tied 3-3 after the first quarter.

The Stingers offence scored their only points in the first quarter. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The Carabins pulled away with the game in the second quarter. Asnnel Robo scored a 77-yard rushing touchdown six minutes into the second quarter, which put the travelling Carabins fans on their feet. The Stingers conceded a safety on the next drive, and from there, the Carabins were in full control of the game.

“It gets to a point where you understand you lost and the game is done,” said slot back James Tyrrell. “The score becomes irrelevant at one point, and you move onto next week before the game is done.”

The Carabins scored their second touchdown of the game with less than two minutes left in the second quarter on a one-yard pass to Robo. The Stingers had a two-and-out on the following drive, which allowed the Carabins to score a field goal and head into the halftime with a 22-3 lead.

The second half didn’t start much better for the Stingers, as Derek Trinh fumbled the kick-off. Robo scored his second rushing touchdown after the turnover. The Stingers were able to get some offensive chemistry going in the third quarter, but quarterback Adam Vance threw two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and fumbled once in the second half.

Vance was replaced by Maxime Bouffard in the fourth quarter after going 16/26 for 149 yards and three interceptions. Bouffard didn’t do much better, going 3/12 with two interceptions and 25 yards.

“Obviously when you lose, no one is going to be happy and laughing,” offensive lineman Maurice Simba said. “But this is our job to keep our heads held high. It happens: it’s a football game, you win some and lose some.”

The Carabins had a 40-3 lead after three quarters, but didn’t hold back in the fourth. They scored 31 points in the final 15 minutes, with three rushing touchdowns and an interception return for a touchdown.

“Obviously it was a bit of a down mood [on the bench],” Tyrrell said. “It’s tough to stay up in games like that when you’re losing like that […] and just battle with mind and saying, ‘You know what, I’m going to keep going until the end.”

With a 2-2 record, the Stingers are now third in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ). They host the first-place Rouge et Or next Saturday at 2 p.m.

“We have to be better,” Collinson said.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad. 

Exit mobile version