A 19-year-old Quebec football player who dared the American adventure, moving to Georgia for two years to develop, is preparing to reap the fruits of his efforts with the Buffalo Bulls in the NCAA.
• Read also: Football: a program in Georgia has Quebec in its sights
• Read also: NCAA: Armel Mukam is getting closer to his dream
Audacity will have finally paid off for Nikolas Roy. Recruited as a receiver by Rabun Gap high school in Georgia, after a stint at Charles-Lemoyne College, he accepted the challenge when his coaches decided to transfer him to defense two years ago.
Roy was recruited as a linebacker in university, he who is also able to line up as a defensive lineman thanks to his size of 6 ft 4 in and 225 lbs. The one inspired by Micah Parsons, star player of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, has never regretted his decision to evolve in the country of Uncle Sam.
"If you don't try it, you won't know and that's what motivated me," said the principal. You have to put all the chances on your side to go to the next level. [...] When I arrived in Georgia, I relied only on my athletic abilities. The technical side helped me a lot. I also improved my confidence in my abilities by starting from zero there.
Roy was quick to shine defensively in prep school. He was named to the All-Star team twice before receiving offers from seven top-flight programs in the United States that were willing to pay his tuition. On December 21, he officially signed with the University of Buffalo Bulls.
"I was advised to go with the university that had the best plan for me and the greatest interest," he said. I have visited twice and they have always made me feel welcome. It's perfect, it's close [to Quebec], it's the team that wanted me the most and it's one of the most talented teams that made me an offer.
One step at a time
Roy graduated from Rabun Gap School. After staying with his family for the holidays, he will head to Buffalo in January to begin his studies in kinesiology.
He intends to take advantage of the off-season to get to know his teammates and assimilate as much information as possible to progress quickly. Even though he is getting closer to the NFL, Roy is focused on the present moment.
"I want to work with the coaches to improve my technique," he said. I also want to get to know my teammates to learn from them. There are a lot of veterans leaving and I will try to make my place. I will wait my turn to be ready to dominate on the field.
"I'm going step by step," said the student-athlete. I focus on the NCAA and try not to look too far ahead. I keep my eyes on the task. I went through Drummondville, Charles-Lemoyne and Georgia. I know how it works and you don't have to think too long term. I know you have to take it step by step.”
A program in Georgia has Quebec in its sights
The head coach of the Rabun Gap school in Georgia, Derek White, has Quebec athletes in his sights, after a fruitful experience with Nikolas Roy and his teammate Mike Lengi, a native of Châteauguay.
Thus, White said he hoped to count on four to six other Quebecers on his team next year. He also visited some programs of the Belle Province, in December, for his recruitment.
“The young people of Quebec have a really good education, he noted during a telephone interview via the WhatsApp application. We are a top 30 program in the United States and there are Quebecers who can help us and aspire to Division 1 afterwards.
Diversity is the strength of the program, according to White, since 19 countries and about 20 American states are represented.
"It makes me a better coach," he said. There are certain differences in Canadian football and there is the language barrier. I also have to be a very good communicator for it to work.”
Everything to succeed
White believes that Nikolas Roy has everything to succeed. His protege is 6'4" tall and weighs 225lbs, in addition to running 40 yards in 4.6 seconds. In his career, he has rarely seen a player of this size with such versatility.
He allows himself to compare Roy's contribution on the pitch to players like Von Miller and Terrell Suggs.
“Nic will laugh, but I believe he can even be a bigger version of [Troy] Polamalu,” he said with a laugh.
"What impresses me the most is the quality of his person," added White. He is helpful and an excellent student. On the pitch, he has assets that are exciting for a coach. He's big, he's fast and he doesn't have a lot of experience in this position. He is so versatile. He can accomplish so much on the field defensively. He has good instincts. He still has a lot to learn, which is what makes him so interesting for universities. […] His best football is certainly ahead of him.”