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‘Last Chance U’ star Tim Bonner proving talent in CFL
Tim Bonner played at Florida Atlantic from 2017 to 2019, racking up 58 tackles and eight sacks in his Owls career. (Courtesy: Florida Atlantic University Athletics)

‘Last Chance U’ star Tim Bonner proving talent in CFL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BVM) – Shining on the field the past couple of seasons for the CFL’s BC Lions, Tim Bonner has become one of the many success stories for those featured on Netflix’s hit series “Last Chance U.”

There have been ups and downs throughout Bonner’s football journey, and that was seen during his time on the show. Coming out of Demopolis High School in Alabama where Bonner was a first team all-state player as a senior with 84 tackles and nine sacks, his football future looked bright as the three-star recruit committed to attend the University of Louisville.

However, he was dismissed from the program while redshirting in his true freshman year after being accused of having a gun on campus. While on “Last Chance U,” Bonner claimed that this was a false accusation and no gun was ever found in his dorm room. 

Tim Bonner FAU Owls football Last Chance U
After playing one season at EMCC, Tim Bonner finished his college football career with FAU. (Courtesy: Florida Atlantic University Athletics)

From there, the edge rusher transferred to East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) where he played for coach Buddy Stephens and starred during season two of “Last Chance U.” Bonner recorded 37 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries during the 2016 season, becoming a fan favorite on the show while helping EMCC to a perfect 12-0 championship season.

His strong JUCO season gave him another Division I opportunity, this time with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) as he joined the Owls alongside former EMCC teammate De’Andre Johnson. Although he originally considered playing at Ole Miss, Bonner changed his commitment, following defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin who joined brother Lane Kiffin after he was hired at FAU. 

After primarily playing special teams for the Owls as a redshirt sophomore in 2017, Bonner made a bigger impact as he became a defensive starter in 2018 with 16 tackles and three sacks. By the end of the season, he was named to the team’s defensive most improved list.

Tim Bonner FAU Owls Last Chance U
Tim Bonner helped the Owls win two C-USA titles in his three seasons at Florida Atlantic. (Courtesy: Florida Atlantic University Athletics)

That set the stage for what would be a strong senior season for Bonner. While he put up similar numbers to his junior year, the 6-foot-5 defensive end impressed with one of his best games early in the season against nationally-ranked Ohio State. As a full-time starter, Bonner went on to earn Conference-USA (C-USA) honorable mention while helping the Owls to their second C-USA championship in three years.

Bonner finished his FAU career with 58 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and two forced fumbles. 

The numbers don’t jump off the page, but Bonner’s stellar play proved he was capable of continuing his football career.

Had times been normal in 2020, Bonner may have become an NFL draft pick. Instead, he never got to have his pro day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and went undrafted despite some reported interest from the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals. Workouts came about with the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins later that summer, but neither team offered Bonner a contract.

In hindsight, it was one of the low points of his football journey that has brought him to the top. In December of 2020, Bonner signed with the BC Lions, finding a home in the CFL.

It followed a similar path to that of former “Last Chance U” fan favorite Ronald Ollie, who signed with the Toronto Argonauts in the same year.

Making the roster out of training camp, Bonner flashed immediate potential for the Lions in 2021. He led the team with five sacks and recorded 22 tackles, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. 

Bonner continues to produce in 2022 for a Lions team that is off to a fast 3-1 start behind talented Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke. So far in 2022, Bonner has five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. His best game came in Week 3 against Ottawa as he earned both sacks he has on the season to go along with three tackles.

Bonner is just scratching the surface in the CFL, and making it to the NFL someday could still be possible. The talented 26-year-old doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. In 2007, Cameron Wake, a talented defensive end out of Penn State, joined the BC Lions and made 72 tackles as well as a league-high 16 sacks. After winning Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in his lone season in the CFL, Wake soon went on to enjoy a Pro Bowl career in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.

Time will tell if Bonner ends up following that same path. But for now, Lions fans are happy to have the former “Last Chance U” star on their side as he continues to prove his talent game after game.

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