The Brits are coming: Keanu Ebanks Signs with Calgary

The Brits are coming: Keanu Ebanks Signs with Calgary
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Keanu Ebanks, the British Offensive lineman, has signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. The 6’6″ 300lb+ lineman has been making a name for himself in Europe before getting to this point with the Stamps.

He will not be the first Brit to come out of a Global Combine, but he does mark another step towards seeing more Brits participate in the 3 Down game.

Born in Leeds in 1994, Ebanks American football journey started in East Yorkshire with the Hull university team, the Hull Sharks. An ex Sharks team president, Ebanks impressed at the CFL Global Combine. In fact, Ebanks attended the NFL international player combine in 2019 and CFL global combines in 2020 and 2021.

So what were the steps that got him to this point? Let’s take a look.

Keanu Ebanks – A football journey

As mentioned above, Ebanks started out with the Hull Sharks, a BUCS affiliated team. Whilst with the Sharks he played on both sides of the line of scrimmage. During his time with the team they picked up a North Division title, beating much fancied Leeds Beckett thanks in large part to Ebanks blocking a Field Goal to confirm the win.

After Uni, the next step was into the GFL. After messaging the GFL teams, he eventually got a tryout with the Hildesheim Invaders. In 2018 he signed with the Invaders. He would be with them for both 2018 & 2019. Having settled at Left Tackle, on a rebuilt team, Ebanks was part of an Invaders squad that made their first GFL playoff visit in 2019.

It was after that impressive 2019 season that he got his NFL player pathway invite. He also reached out to the CFL and attended their combine too.

Not to be stopped

Whilst the global pandemic stopped many, Keanu Ebanks was not to be stopped. Whilst the CFL endured a cancelled season, in Sweden they played on. Ebanks reached out to and signed for the Stockholm Mean Machines. His team went 5-1, won a semi but lost a closely contested final.

Once again, there was another step to take for Keanu Ebanks on his on-field journey after this. After Hull, Hildesheim and Stockholm, came a return to Germany. But this time signing with the Hamburg Sea Devils in the newly formed ELF, (European League of Football).

The Sea Devils finished top of the North Division with a 7-3 record, and narrowly lost out in a thriller 32-30 to Frankfurt in the first ever ELF championship game. Ebanks was named a league All-Star at tackle.

Now he is taking another step. Signing with the Calgary Stampeders. CFL fans in the UK will be rooting for him to succeed. We’d love to have a home grown talent making a mark on the wide fields of the CFL.

Something to Consider

The CFL is a minority interest in the UK at the moment. Most people follow the NFL or college football. The three down game is on the periphery of most people’s consciousness with these things.

If Brits start to make it there though it could raise interest. What the CFL really needs most of all is people to understand the subtle differences that can make the 3 down game so exciting. Perhaps raising its profile here through player signings like this will help with that eventually.

The only Brit to have followed an entirely European route to the CFL currently in the league is David Izinyon with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Let’s hope both he and Ebanks, and more to come can make a mark!

Whatever happens it will surely be a boon for the profile of the CFL among athletes on these shores. If they can see the CFL as another step on a football journey like the one Keanu Ebanks is taking then all the better.

Banner Image: Keanu Ebanks blocking for the Hildesheim Invaders of the GFL. Image from AFI.com

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