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October 27, 2010

Canada becoming untapped resource

Michigan State remains unbeaten at 8-0 and ranked No. 5 in the BCS standings, in part, because of a balanced offense that averages 193.5 yards rushing and 255.3 passing.

Northern Exposure
Five facts about Canadian high school football:
1) The field
The field is 65 yards wide and 110 yards long, not including much larger end zones. The goal posts are inside the field of play, and are often obstacles for both the offense and defense.

2) Dirty dozen
It is 12-on-12. Canadian teams get more players to attack and defend the larger field.

3) Motion sickness
As long as seven are on the line, any type of motion goes. Running backs and receivers can get a head start running toward the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. Multiple players can be moving at the same time, and the outside players on the line can motion along the line of scrimmage.

4) Up close
The defense must be set 1 yard off the line of scrimmage. A tough rule on defensive back prospects such as Arjen Colquhoun. He has never been asked to play press coverage, not only because of the 1-yard rule, but because receivers on the line can motion away from him. Blocking schemes and techniques for offensive linemen are drastically different as well.

5) Third decisions
Three downs per series to get 10 yards. With the 1-yard off-the-ball rule, third-and-1 often means going for it.
Top NFL players with Canadian roots:
Oshiomogho Atogwe, St. Louis Rams, safety
Born in Windsor, Ontario, and played high school football at W.F. Herman in Windsor.

Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions, wide receiver
Born in Calgary while his father was playing for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. Played high school and college ball in America.

Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver
Born in Hamilton, Ontario. Played his high school ball in California before a college career at BYU.

Israel Idonije, Chicago Bears, defensive tackle
Born in Nigeria, but played high school and college football in Manitoba.

Nick Kaczur, New England Patriots, offensive tackle
Born in Brantford, Ontario. Currently on injured reserve, Kaczur has been a regular starter for the Patriots since 2005.
And a little bit of that credit goes to J'Michael Deane, Michigan State's starting right tackle, one of a small but slowly growing group of FBS players from Canada.

Michigan State continues shopping north of the border, too, landing a commitment from Windsor (Ontario) W.F. Herman defensive back Arjen Colquhoun. The three-star prospect committed to the Spartans in July.

"I think he can be fantastic at Michigan State," W.F. Herman coach Harry Lumley said. "We are excited about him going, especially with how that program is doing right now. I think he is going to end up playing on both sides of the ball to be honest. I think they'll spot him on offense as well as play him on defense."

It took Deane five years to earn a regular starting spot. Nearly all Canadian FBS signees redshirt their first season to catch up with the speed and strength of the American game.

It's rare for a prospect to go straight from a Canadian high school to a Division I program without a stop between or prepping in the States, but Colquhoun is going straight in and will be younger than most of his Canadian predecessors.

He got a head start by putting his skills to the test at multiple prospect camps in the States, including a workout in East Lansing last summer that resulted in a scholarship offer.

Mentally, he knows he must be better than his American counterparts.

"I just want to know the game inside and out," Colquhoun said. "Usually if you know the game inside and out you don't have to be the best athlete on the field. If you know the game you will be good and you will succeed."

Did you know?

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Cory Greenwood is the only positional player on an NFL roster that was born in Canada, and played both high school and college football in Canada.

Rivals in Canada

Greg Ladky of Rivals.com AMP video has much more about Colquhoun and Canadian high school football in these exclusive video productions:

Kennedy-Herman highlights

Canada: Untapped resources

Colquhon interview



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