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Boseko knows football

Well-traveled prep ‘blessed’ to be an Oregon linebacker

University of Oregon recruiters stayed after Mouat Secondary School’s Boseko Lokombo when he moved back to Canada from South Eugene High. ©2009 Jean Konda-Witte / Abbotsford Times

By jason vondersmith, The Portland Tribune, Feb 10, 2009

Boseko Lokombo was born in Congo, grew up in British Columbia and spent only one year playing football in the States (at South Eugene High.

Some players might take earning a scholarship for granted, but not Lokombo, a rare major-college find from Canada.  “I am extremely blessed,” he says.

The University of Oregon landed Lokombo, fighting off the California Bears for his services. At 6-3, 220 pounds, he excelled on offense as a senior at W.J. Mouat Secondary School in Abbotsford, B.C., but the Ducks have him pegged to play linebacker. That suits him fine.

“I love playing football anywhere, offense or defense,” he says. “I’m going to definitely have to get better and work on my mechanics on the field — shedding blockers, footwork, learning to play the game faster.

“I’d like to come out the first year and compete for a spot. If the team needs me right away, hopefully I’ll be ready to step in.”

His prep coach, Denis Kelly, says “Bo” probably will redshirt his first year. But he also says the Ducks have a prototypical recruit in Lokombo, who also plays basketball and participates in track and field.

“We see very few Pac-10 players come through here, maybe two or three each year in the whole province,” Kelly says. “Certainly he’s the best athlete to come through our school, with his combination of speed, power and quickness and general ball sense. Some people have it, some don’t. He’s a superior athlete.

“And he’s got a good attitude and will be a good leader. He’s a very good worker, not a self-promoter in any way. He’s quite reserved. He’s very popular with the teaching staff, because he makes sure he has all his work done and doesn’t ask for favors.”

Lokombo averaged 15 yards per rush and 17 yards per catch and scored 35 touchdowns. Because W.J. Mouat had such a good team, losing in the B.C. finale, Lokombo didn’t have to play much defense.

“I played outside linebacker, but our starters would be out before the second half,” says Lokombo, who also played safety and cornerback.

The year before, Lokombo attended South Eugene on an exchange program. He returned to his home in suburban Vancouver, B.C., partly because his parents wanted him back and because he couldn’t get his visa renewed.

Lokombo feared he would return to B.C. and disappear from the recruiting radar. Not so, because colleges know talented players when they see them. Oregon and Cal continued to recruit him, and Lokombo narrowed his choice to those two ahead of Washington, Washington State and Oregon State – dismissing late interest from Alabama. He befriended UO linebackers coach Don Pellum – “we talk almost every day,” Lokombo says.

Playing a year at South Eugene, he saw the difference in the quality of prep football in the U.S. and Canada, a country known for its hockey.

“Playing in Eugene helped my progression a lot,” he says. “I became faster and more aware of the game. In Canada, it’s the same type of competition, but it’s a little bit slower for me.”

Lokombo’s father is an accountant and his mother a teacher, and the family moved from Congo in 1996.

“A scholarship for them is a godsend,” Kelly says. “They wouldn’t be able to afford a school of that nature (Oregon). They’re very supportive of him. They go to all the games. They’re very outgoing.”

Lokombo has four brothers, two older, including Boloy Lokombo, who played at Division II University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Oregon wooed Boseko Lokombo, and the feeling became mutual.

“A lot of people talk about their facilities and things,” he says. “But what truly impressed me was how close the relationship was with players. They have a really good team, and they take care of their players. I felt comfortable down there.”

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