Stingers Commit Wants Spot at Concordia
Profiling Incoming Football Freshman Jizreel Botat
He has yet to step on the field for the Concordia Stingers football team, but rookie halfback Jizreel Botat has already made his intentions known about finding his place on the Stingers squad.
“I don’t know if any of the other four players I’ll be competing with upped their games to keep their starting spot, but I’m coming here to take that spot. Whoever is in my way, we’re going to have to fight for that spot,” said Botat.
Last year’s roster had seven players at the halfback position, including three first year players, meaning he will likely have competition ahead of him if he wants to earn the starting position he covets.
“They don’t have a concrete player at that position. I think that’s one of the reasons they really recruited me. They see me as that guy,” said Botat. “It’s a hard position. My side of the field is the run side, which means I’ll be going one-on-one with a running back. But then again, I love tackling so it’s a good fit and a better challenge for me.”
In January, the Stingers recruited Botat, also known as “Jay Z”, from the CEGEP Vanier Cheetahs, prying him from other interested suitors such as McGill, Ottawa, the University of British Columbia, Wilfrid Laurier, University of Ottawa, and Windsor. In his final year with the Cheetahs, the halfback recorded two interceptions and 33 tackles. The halfback prides himself on his tackling abilities, to the point where he gets angrier at himself about missing a tackle than dropping an interception.
But once upon a time, as a young kid growing up in Bloomington, Illinois, the sport of football scared him.
“When I was younger, all I saw was one person getting the ball and everybody jumping on him,” he said. “So in my head, I thought, even your own team jumps on you. I don’t want to be in such a dangerous sport.”
“When I was younger, all I saw was one person getting the ball and everybody jumping on him. So in my head, I thought, even your own team jumps on you. I don’t want to be in such a dangerous sport.” — Jizreel Botat.
It didn’t stop his cousin from pushing Botat to play football for their local team, after noticing his natural ability to catch the ball and hurdle over defenders. When he moved to Montreal, he continued playing football with the Saint-Laurent Spartans, where he helped his team make the playoffs in each of his final two season, including an appearance in the provincial final in 2011.
Botat then joined a star-studded Vanier Cheetahs team looking to defend their Bol D’or CEGEP championship from 2012. He eventually became a starter on the 2013 Cheetahs team — a spot he held for the next 3 seasons.
The halfback has received glowing reviews from his coaches, past and present, characterizing him as a jokester and a positive influence on his teams.
“He’s a comedian,” said Vanier College defensive back coach and Botat’s trusted mentor Kevin Goddard. “In the locker room, he lightens the situation. I think you always need that type of guy in your locker room to put everything at ease. But with me, he knew when it was time to be serious.”
“He’s a locker room guy,” said Stingers defensive coordinator Pat Donovan. “That’s what makes a team better.”
Donovan also praised Botat for his physical ability and understanding of the game, and feels he’s a player who can be on the field sooner than later.
“He can play, he’s a stud,” said Donovan. “We expect a lot out of him, and, nothing is ever guaranteed, but he’s someone that I strongly believe can come in and play right for us right away.”
Botat is also seen as a “family oriented guy”, according to Goddard. The halfback opted to play at Concordia mostly because he didn’t want to leave his mother and the rest of his family.
“I respect that,” said Goddard. “He loves his mom, he loves his family and he wants to be close to them.”
The rookie, who will be studying Human Relations, also praised the Stingers for making him and his family a part of their growing family before he committed to the school.
“If you recruit a kid, you’ve got to recruit his parents,” said Donovan. “When their son is going to university, you’ve got to know that your son is in good hands.”
“People don’t believe me when I say this, but I’m actually a shy person,” said Botat. “But I easily get comfortable when I get to know the people around me.”