The Varsity Blues football team ended their 2012 campaign with a lackluster 2–6 record. It’s difficult to take any positives from such a season; however, one bright star has emerged in recent weeks. Blues defensive lineman James Bodanis, who was featured on the NFL Canada portion of the NFL website this past week, has drawn the eyes of NCAA team Michigan State.
“I made a highlight video at the end of 2012 and decided to put it up on YouTube, and was put in contact with a man in Toronto named Justin Dillon,” explained Bodanis. “He started putting my name out there, and eventually teams came calling and Michigan State was one of them. They actually contacted me first.”
Although his transfer has not been entirely finalized, Bodanis will be donning the green and white of the Spartans next season. “The staff at Michigan State are still going through all the rules and procedures to figure out how much eligibility I will have. [But] whatever the situation is, I still will be playing for them.”
Bodanis has played for the Blues for two seasons under head coach Greg Gary. Any transition between coaches, let alone entire teams, is a challenge, but Bodanis is anticipating a smooth transfer. “I have met with the majority of the coaching staff and some of the players on the team and from what I have seen so far I’m very happy with everyone there and I think its very comparable to the kind of atmosphere that U of T has, and that can only be a positive,” Bodanis asserted. “I think that as long as I work as hard as I can and do my best then I should be fine no matter where I play.
“The biggest obstacle is probably going to be learning a new system.”
The Blues and their CIS competitors play by the rules of the Canadian Football League (CFL), whereas NCAA teams such as Michigan State adhere to the structure of the NFL.
The main changes that Bodanis will have to confront include where players line up at the snap, the size of the field, and the amount of motion allowed before a play.
“I feel like the transition won’t be as difficult as it seems,” Bodanis confidently explained. “I feel as though the rules in the American game are more suited to my attributes, as I can start closer to the ball and have a smaller area to run towards each sideline. And I have played American rules when I played for the Etobicoke Eagles of the OVFL.”
Bodanis admits that the transfer will help him get closer to realizing his dream of playing in the NFL. “My decision to leave U of T was a personal choice that I made and had nothing to do with our record and lack of recognition,” asserted Bodanis. “It was a decision I made that was solely based on me achieving my goal of playing in the NFL and I felt that seeking out interest from NCAA schools was my best shot.”
If he is to realize that dream, Bodanis will have to prove that he is capable of performing as well under the American rules as he has with the Blues. In his two seasons at U of T, the defensive lineman recorded 32.5 tackles and five sacks.
The Michigan State Spartans are a member of the Big Ten Conference in the NCAA Division One Football Bowl Subdivision. The Spartans have won six national championships, and 10 Big Ten championships, with the last conference victory coming in 2010.
The Spartans have 24 graduates currently active in the NFL, including Super Bowl winner Plaxico Burress and Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Flozell Adams.
In Bodanis’ quest to “make it to the NFL draft and to try to get more exposure and experience,” a school with such highly recognized athletes is a definite advantage.
With his final snap for the Blues completed and his departure fast approaching. Bodanis has only thoughts for those he leaves behind.
“I’d like to say thank you to everyone at U of T — coach Gary, coach Carter, coach Scott, the training staff, and all the players. Good luck next season and I appreciate everything that you guys have helped me with over these last few years.”