MISSISSAUGA, Ontario (BVM) – Ishmael Findlayter only started playing American football two years ago. He made the transition from Canadian football to American football in 2020 and then didn’t play his first game until 2021. Since then, he has gained 50 pounds, moved from safety to defensive end and has committed to Virginia Tech. However, the three-star athlete says he hasn’t even gotten close to reaching his full potential.
“It’s pretty exciting to think about,” Findlayter said. “To me, that’s what pushes me more. I just really want to see what I can do.”
This year as a senior with Clarkson Football North, he feels like he can make huge strides ahead of joining the Hookies.
“I’m kind of used to my position and used to American football really,” Findlayter said. “I feel more confident.”
“I’m feeling great. I’m a different player than I was last year, dramatically.”
Findlayter was originally a wide receiver when he started playing Canadian football during grade six. However, when he joined Clarkson Football North, his coaches talked him into playing defensive end after his original move from wide receiver to safety.
He made the switch and to be effective on the defensive line, the 6-foot-4 Findlayter also gained 50 pounds. Findlayter spent most of last season and the entire offseason getting used to his new weight and position. But even though he was still adjusting, colleges had seen enough to want to invest in the bright future of Findlayter.
It was hard to go through the recruiting process due to covid. Findlayter couldn’t travel to any campuses but Virginia Tech was still able to make an impression on the Canadian pass rusher.
Findlayter verbally committed to the Hokies in August, choosing Virginia Tech over offers from Arizona State, Vanderbilt, South Dakota and Central Michigan. He’s thrilled to get the chance to play Power Five football but more than anything he is excited to see how far he can take his talents.
“At the end of the day, my mentality is catching up to the guys that have been playing the game since they were four and five,” Findlayter said. “Still have a lot of technique I have to learn, make my moves faster and more efficient and just get better everyday.”
Adjusting to the speed of American football has been a process but Findlayter loves it. He enjoys watching film of Chase Young before games and has been inspired by Micah Parsons.
“I like Micah Parsons because he wasn’t a d-end for his entire career and he’s still learning but playing at a high level,” Findlayter said.
Findlayter, too, is just getting started. He’s learning the game within the game and has been honing in his moves. Getting to Virginia Tech will take his game to the next level and he hopes that as he continues to get better, he will be able to inspire other Canadians to make their own way to American football.
“It shows for everybody else, if I can do it, we can get way more people to do it,” Findlayter said.
He takes pride in making his own way in football. Findlayter believes that being from Canada has given him a different perspective on the game. It pushes him to work harder to not only get noticed, but to show people he belongs on the field with the very best.