News / Toronto

'You can’t coach size and speed': Meet the promising young GTA football player who's too big to fail

The 19-year old stands 6-foot-5, tips the scales at 330 pounds

Mohamed Diallo started out wanting to be a basketball player.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

Mohamed Diallo started out wanting to be a basketball player.

When basketball powerhouse Eastern Commerce Collegiate closed its doors in 2015, Mohamed Diallo assumed his dreams of playing professional hoops had died.

As it turns out, he had simply outgrown them.

Today, the 19-year-old stands six-foot-five, tips the scales at 330 pounds and finds himself on a fast track toward the highest level of college football in North America. With only a year of football experience under his belt, Diallo has accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Oregon, which has one of the top Division 1 (D-1) programs in the United States.

“Initially, he didn’t know a whole lot about football,” said Paul Blackwood, a former CFL player and Diallo’s trainer at the Football Factory University in Toronto.

“But we thought his potential was incredibly high. You can’t coach size and speed.”

Blackwood helped Diallo enrol in a two-year program at Arizona Western Junior College to prepare him for the rigours of D-1 competition. Despite a modest first-year contribution of 11 tackles during the 2016 season, Arizona Western associate head coach Jerry Dominguez believes Diallo is too big and too fast to fail.

“His learning curve has come a long way,” he said. “As long as he keeps improving, there’s no doubt that NFL teams are going to take notice of him just for being a big guy that can run and move.”

Diallo credits basketball for his mobility and occasionally practises with the school’s basketball team to stay in shape. He said he earned the right after one of their basketball players doubted his skills based on his size and Canadian passport.

“I’m just a kid from Eastern Commerce, and we know how to play,” he said with a chuckle. “I punched (dunked) the ball down, looked at him and was like: ‘Yeah, I’m from Canada.’”

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