Hart defensive lineman Thomas Bambrick had over a dozen offers to play college football in the United States, with offers from Division 3 and NAIA programs.
A week before Wednesday’s National Signing Day, Bambrick’s phone rang and awaiting him was his first NCAA Division 2 offer.
That offer came from Simon Fraser University, located in Burnaby, British Columbia, just outside of Vancouver. It’s the only college in Canada that competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Bambrick signed his National Letter of Intent to join the program Wednesday in a ceremony at Hart.
“I’ve always been a person for the unique and I really liked it there,” Bambrick said. “I like the campus, the program, the coach really knows what he’s doing —seemed like a great for me.”
Bambrick, who’s planning to study history in college, was fourth on Hart with 58 tackles and was second with 6 1/2 sacks, behind only C.J. McMullen, who set the school’s single-season record with 24. He wasn’t aware of any other students at Hart who planned on attending Simon Fraser and doesn’t have any family in Canada.
“It’s a totally new venture,” Bambrick said. “I don’t know anybody else that’s going there. I’m kind of just going into the wild.”
Simon Fraser has gone winless the past three seasons but hired Thomas Ford as its head coach this offseason. Ford, who most recently served as the football coach for Stadium High in Tacoma, Wash., has previously at Southwestern Oklahoma State (Division 2), University of Puget Sound (Division 3) and Linfield College (Division 3).
“It’s a clean slate for them,” Bambrick said. “I talked with (Ford) over the phone a couple times and we really connected.”
Besides the football, Bambrick was intrigued with the internship opportunities that come with the school’s proximity to Vancouver. The team also plays at Azusa Pacific on Sept. 18, so it won’t be long before he’s back in Southern California.
“It’s a pretty big school,” Bambrick said. “There’s three campuses and more than 35,000 students. There’s going to be a lot of opportunity out there.”
Bambrick is one of several players from Hart’s senior class that’s set to move on to the collegiate football ranks. Quarterback JT Shrout, who also took part in Wednesday’s signing ceremony at Hart, is signed to play at Tennessee. Other members of the class such as Nathan Bradder, D.J. Palmer, Ben Rosen and Trevor Laibl are likely to make the jump before the April 1 deadline.
What was their reaction when they heard one of their teammates was heading across the border to continue his career?
“They were definitely a bit surprised,” Bambrick said. “I don’t think most people even realize playing in college up there is a thing.
“There was a lot of surprise but everyone has been really supportive. That’s all you can really ask for.”