Opportunity knocks for Pappin
Tuesday was a big day for Saint Paul’s Elijah Pappin.
In a school mostly devoid of students because of the exam break, the 12B student signed to play scholarship football at the Ontario University Athletics level with the Waterloo Warriors. He also had interest from a couple of other schools.
“I have been waiting for this day for a while. I am finally getting it done,” he said, prior to signing in front of his family, Waterloo head coach Chris Bertoia and Saint Paul head coach Rick Oreskovich.
Waterloo was the right choice for the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder, who played fullback and middle linebacker for the Patriots.
“On my visit, it was a good environment. It was a good time and it felt right academic-wise.”
There wasn’t any one point when he decided Waterloo would be his football home for the next four or five years.
“It was the whole experience in its entirety.”
Academics played a big role in Pappin choosing Waterloo.
“They have a nice co-op program and it will be a good experience for me.”
He is planning to study either mathematics or accounting.
The 18-year-old Niagara Falls resident is coming off an injury-plagued season at Saint Paul.
“Unfortunately, Elijah had an ankle injury for most of the season, limiting his playing time, however, when he was competing, his impact on the field made a difference,” Oreskovich said. “He was a concern on both sides of the ball to opposing teams and how they were going to deal with his size and talent.”
It was a frustrating campaign for the player.
“It was tough but I still played most of the games. But it held me back from performing at my best.”
The Niagara Spears player feels his game has improved in the past year.
“I am pretty well-conditioned because I am playing basketball right now and the quickness I get from basketball has helped me in football.”
Oreskovich agrees basketball has been a benefit to Pappin’s foot speed and agility.
“He is also visiting the weightroom to improve his physical strength for the next level. Both of these activities are crucial for his mental and physical development in preparation for his future challenges. Being a varsity university athlete is very demanding both academically and athletically and will require determination and focus which I feel Elijah has the potential to be successful.”
Oreskovich is a big fan of his graduating player.
“Elijah has good competitive instincts and he wants to contribute to the success of both the offence and defence,” he said. “He continually wants the ball in his hands on offence and then he also wants to play a major role on the defensive side of the ball.”
Pappin can’t wait to get started at Waterloo.
“I am looking forward to the next level of competition.”
He has a plan for his freshman year at Waterloo.
“My goal is to outwork the rest of the people there.”
Bertoia describes Pappin as a big, strong, hard-running kid and the Warriors are looking for him to earn a spot on offence at the halfback position.
“It’s a hybrid position on offence these days, especially in Canadian football where he can be in the backfield as an old school type fullback, as a tight end or spread out wide running routes. Plus he had that size and grit,” he said.
Pappin’s first choice has always been to play offence over defence.
“I like scoring,” he said, with a smile.
Bertoia likes Pappin’s potential.
“He demonstrated that at our camps and excelled very well against high-calibre competition and running plays that were specific to our offence,” he said. “That got us excited about him and I came down here a few times and saw him at Saint Paul. He was a versatile guy and certainly his size and athleticism is something that we are very excited about.”
With the Warriors having graduated many players in the past few seasons, opportunity is knocking for Pappin and other recruits.
“We lost 38 kids to graduation and we have some quality kids on our roster, but the nice thing for these guys coming in it’s obviously the great education at Waterloo but also the opportunity with football, Bertoia said. “At the end of the day, we are going to play the best guys to help us win football games on Saturdays. All those guys (Pappin and Myer Waterloo recruits Tyler Goforth and Arden Martinez) have an opportunity to come in and compete against like-aged guys. We are a very young team.”
Pappin is ready for the challenge.
“I am going lift, keep running to work on my conditioning and get faster.”