Boseko Lokombo has always had a mega-watt smile. Yet the one pictured above, the one he couldn’t wipe off his face late last month in the moments following the final game of his college football career, seemed extra special. Especially as he shared the moment with his dad Leon.
It seemed to say ‘Bo knows joy.’
“Because after everything I have had to battle, I realize that what I had at Oregon was the opportunity of a lifetime,” the senior outside linebacker with the Oregon Ducks said late last week in reflection, following the Ducks’ season-ending win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl. “And the only thing I could do was make the best of it.”
He did just that.
Today, the former two-way standout from Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary is working hard, hopeful that in just under four months time, he will hear his name called at the 2014 NFL draft, something he couldn’t even have imagined in 1996 when he and his family escaped the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo in search of a better life in Canada.
Now, with a journalism degree in his back pocket, he seems especially ready to begin writing his next chapter, one which will see him soon relocate to San Francisco for training. Lokombo, currently pegged as a mid-to-late round draft pick, is awaiting potential invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine which will run late next month in Indianapolis.
“This is a transition period for me,” said Lokombo, the fourth of seven children in his family. “It feels like that time of going from high school to college. But nothing has changed. First and foremost, I am student of the game. I am dedicated and passionate. I feel like I can play multiple positions from safety to linebacker to potentially, defensive end. I like to think I am a smart player, and if I get the opportunity, I am going to run with it.”
Just like The Province’s 2009 Head of the Class honouree did at Oregon, where he played in three BCS bowl games, including the 2010 national championship game where his Ducks fell to quarterback Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Lokombo, an unstoppable high school running back who carried for 1,558 yards and 22 touchdowns his senior season at Mouat, saw his skills, both athletic and intuitive, put to great use at Oregon, where he was not only a regular at the line of scrimmage, but also dropped back into coverage with ease.
Seventh on the team this season with 63 tackles, that versatility shone through as he led the team in quarterback hurries with seven, was second in tackles-for-loss with seven, and was third in sacks with three.
“My (senior) season was good,” said Lokombo, who last May was picked in the third round of the CFL draft by the B.C. Lions. “The numbers were not as high as I wanted, but numbers don’t always show how you affect the game. Some of the responsibilities I had weren’t shown on paper. I have always been most focused on contributing to my team and just playing the game. Just getting the opportunity to do what I did in a short period of time, I was blessed to be able to do that.”
Surrounded by a bevy of soon-to-be NFL draft picks over his stay in Eugene, Lokombo played for the Ducks at a time in their history in which they made an indelible stamp on the game’s history, from the relentless pace of its offence, to the new wave, mix-and-match metallic look of its game-day uniforms, both of which are now becoming commonplace at all levels of the game.
But for Lokombo, more than anything, was the success of the team on the field.
“I knew I was coming in with a dedicated bunch of guys who only wanted the best,” said Lokombo. “And we wound up being the winningest class in school history.”
Over his five seasons at Oregon, including his 2009 red-shirt season, the Ducks went 57-9, including 23-3 over his final two years as a starter.
And while that is something to smile about, it’s always going to be about the journey, and Leon Lokombo can’t hide a father’s pride.
“I have that picture everywhere, from my office to my laptop,” remarked Leon, a financial advisor for Sun Life in Abbotsford. “When I look at it, I see myself through my son. I see how focused he is, and how he has always listened to me. I see the great effort from where we have come from, and it has been from so far.”
by Howard Tsunamura, The Province, January 16, 2014