While preseason as a whole lacks the true thrill and intensity of the regular season, every now and then you’ll discover a diamond in the rough that truly shines. Last night, that player was clearly ILB Henoc Muamba defensively. Getting extended playing time because of injuries to key Colts’ back-ups like Kelvin Sheppard, Josh McNary, and Andrew Jackson, Muamba made plays all over the field. He was quite frankly a tackling machine, as he led the Colts in tackles with 12, including 10 solo.
Muamba wasn’t just tackling, but he was doing so with tremendous physicality. As on one play, he took Chris Ivory one-on-one in the hole around the goal-line with the Jets threatening and completely stonewalled him on first and goal with 6:20 left in the 2nd quarter. 2nd down.
So who exactly is Henoc Muamba?
Birthplace: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Grew Up: Mississauga, Ontario
College: St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia (School’s all-time leading tackler)
Experience: Drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Blue Bombers 1st Overall in 2011 CFL Draft (2011-2013); CFL All-Star in 2013; Voted by team as Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2013.
Not a whole lot is known about Muamba, but we do know that he is relatively new to the game of football, having only started playing during his junior year of high school. In fact, he “hated it” at a point in time. However after switching to linebacker during his sophomore year at St. Xavier based on the recommendation of coaches,
Muamba started on his road to becoming the physical force we saw on full display against the Jets last night. He started enjoying the game, much now to the utter dismay of his opponents.
Ultimately, Muamba hopes to join the likes of Jerrell Freeman, as another hidden gem that Colts’ GM Ryan Grigson poached from the CFL. Freeman signed with the Colts in 2012 and has instantly become one of the team’s top defenders, never looking back. Having signed with the team in February, Muamba is getting increasingly comfortable with the cultural changes and league differences (with the CFL being more of a passing league), as well as the Colts’ overall defensive schemes. He’s not quite where he needs to be, but he’s off to a tremendous start with last night’s debut.
Simply put, if he can continue to play how he played last night, he’ll have a great chance to make the roster because it’s hard to envision anyone playing much better in such a limited opportunity. He’s an easy candidate to root for given his unique football background and obscure beginnings. Like he’s done his whole life, Muamba is making the most of his opportunity, and in the process, simply suffocating the opposition.