The Mount Allison University Mounties had only seen Jordan Botel on game tape. The footage convinced them to offer him a spot on their football team.
What a great decision that turned out to be.
Botel, a 23-year-old running back from Prince George, has become one of the most prolific rushers in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. And, within the Atlantic University Sport conference, he's the statistical leader in multiple offensive categories. He's also a rookie, which makes his achievements to date even more remarkable.
"We saw his film and we thought we had something pretty solid," said Mounties head coach Kelly Jeffrey, whose team in based in Sackville, N.B. "You never truly know until you [see a player in person] and I would say probably in the second or third padded practice it really started to show that he was going to be an electric player for us. It kind of confirmed everything we had seen on film and seen from his stats over the last couple years."
Botel had spent the previous four seasons with the Vancouver Island Raiders of the Canadian Junior Football League. In two of those years, 2008 and 2009, the Raiders won national championships.
Botel, a 2007 graduate of College Heights secondary school, went into a Saturday tilt against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men as the fourth-leading rusher in the CIS, with 634 yards gained on 141 carries (average of 4.5 yards per carry and 105.7 yards per game). In the AUS conference, he started the weekend as the leader in overall rushing, touchdowns (five), rush attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
In the game against the X-Men -- a 29-16 win for the Mounties that clinched them a playoff spot -- Botel carried the ball 37 more times and gained 99 yards.
"He has, in a short time, grown into a leader on the team," Jeffrey said. "He has fit in very well with the rest of the group. Athletically, he's a powerful kid. He breaks a lot of tackles, really runs downhill well. And he seems to be one of those workhorses that tends to get better as the game goes along. He's just as strong on his 40th carry as he is on his first."
In true team-first fashion, Botel praised his coaches and teammates for what he has been able to do on the field.
"The coaches out here are great and the offensive line, they make the big blocks for me and I just have to kind of run through the hole," said Botel, who stands five-foot-10 and weighs 195 pounds. "It sounds easy I guess, but there's a lot of hard work that goes into it."
In university football, Botel said teams have fewer weak spots than in junior. As well, everything happens a bit quicker. Overall, he's a little surprised at how quickly he has been able to make the transition.
"Obviously you always expect to do well but expectations and what actually happens are generally two different things," he said. "But, I'm happy with how it's going so far."
Earlier this season, Botel was chosen as the AUS offensive player of the week. He was also Mount Allison's athlete of the week for football last week.
On the season, the second-place Mounties have a 3-4 record in conference play. They have one regular-season game remaining, on Saturday against the first-place Acadia Axemen.
The Axemen (6-1) will get a bye to the AUS championship game, while the Mounties will face either the St. Mary's Huskies or the X-Men in a Nov. 3 semifinal.
The AUS champ will meet the Quebec winner in the Uteck Bowl, which is a qualifier for the Vanier Cup national championship game, Nov. 23 in Toronto.