After fleeing war in Africa with his family as a child, Lokombo celebrates one-year anniversary with Leos.
By: Cam Tucker, MetroNews. Wed Sep 09 2015
Asked about his growth as a young player with the B.C. Lions, Bo Lokombo seized the opportunity to talk about an important anniversary.
For you see, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, marked one full year since Lokombo officially joined the Lions, inking with the local CFL team he and his family have had a connection with ever since his days as a dominant force for the W.J. Mouat high school football team in Abbotsford.
“It finally makes a whole year with the CFL and with the B.C. Lions,” said Lokombo, the non-import linebacker, on Wednesday.
“It’s been good. I’ve been really happy. I think the biggest thing is just keep going, keep getting better, keep winning games.”
Lokombo’s story isn’t just one of a local talent with potential for bigger and better things within the Lions defence. It’s not just his journey from the B.C. high school ranks, to the University of Oregon Ducks, to the CFL and B.C. as a 2013 draft pick.
Lokombo grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo when war ravaged the nation in the mid-1990s.
His family fled to Canada – first landing in the snow and cold of Montreal before later moving out west to Abbotsford – in 1996 to reunite with their father, Leon, who had already landed in the province of Quebec to make a new life for himself, his wife Anne-Marie, and their six children.
After a standout high school career with the Mouat Hawks, Lokombo graduated to play in Oregon, before the Lions took a calculated risk by selecting him in the third round of the 2013 CFL Draft, despite one more year of college eligibility.
His NFL aspirations didn’t pan out, at least at the time, following shoulder surgery at the conclusion of his college career, and he finally signed with the Lions last September.
“He’s evolving in a positive way. He’s maturing not only as a football player but he’s maturing as a person,” said Lions defensive coordinator Mark Washington.
“He’s learning to become more professional, take care of himself, his body, making sure he knows his plays and things he needs to do. He’s maturing. That’s what you want from a player going into his second year.”
Now into his first full season with the Lions, Lokombo has gone from being used primarily on special teams to getting inserted into the defence for certain situations.
“Our confidence has never waivered in him,” said head coach Jeff Tedford. “It seems like every time he’s in, he makes plays.”
In the Lions’ win over the Montreal Alouettes last Thursday, Lokombo was able to get his fingertips on a pass attempt, deflecting the ball that eventually landed into the waiting arms of Burnaby’s Eric Fraser for a defensive touchdown.
As Fraser sprinted toward the end zone, Lokombo, fellow linebacker Adam Bighill and defensive end Khreem Smith were paving the way as the lead blockers.
“The reps I get, I’ve got to make something happen,” said Lokombo.
The plan was for Lokombo to take on greater responsibility in the defensive scheme this year, and so far that has come to fruition, putting him, as Washington said, “right on schedule” in his development.
“You want to put the carrot out there so they can chase it but at the same time, these things are earned, they’re not given,” said Washington.
“And he’s earned the fact that he’s getting some playing time.”