EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of Mount Allison Mountie and Tantramar Titan player profiles that will be published in the coming months.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – With dreadlocks flying in the wind and showing more moves than a bowl of jello, Idahosa Yorke is a sight to behold as he shows a special skill in returning punts and kicks for his beloved Mount Allison Mounties.
And perhaps there is another factor in the huge amount of success he enjoys doing what he loves – because he is one of the smallest in the sport of football today it seems at time as though he might be running for his life.
Yes, at just 5’7” and 160 pounds, Yorke has developed his own style that not only gains huge yardage for the Mounties but which is also designed to protect him from huge opponents who would love nothing more than to trample him into the ground.
It was his lack size, in one respect, that brought him to Mount Allison in the first place. After reviewing his highlight video, a good many coaches were not prepared to take a chance on the Bowmanville native. And in this respect, it is mindful of the lot of Bradley Daye, who came here and went on to become an all-star but who lacked the size to appeal to recruiters.
Idahosa arrived in Sackville for the 2014 campaign. In a pre-season game he ran back a punt for 80 yards and a touchdown. But since the team was stocked with studs he was red shirted but came back with a bang the following season, claiming an All-Conference title as punt returner.
Last season he danced his way for 418 yards on punt returns, another 328 on kick returns and 61 in receiving for a total of 797 yards, just short of the all-purpose yardage of 836 set by teammate Chris Reid.
Like Gary Ross before him, who rewrote the AUS record books, Yorke says punt returning is done on automatic – you catch the ball, look for a seam and then it is all automatic response – there is no time to think of the next move – it just comes naturally. So, it seems that returners, are born to do the job, not trained.
And this coming season could prove double trouble for opposing special teams. Idahosa will be united with his younger brother Jelane who is bigger and probably stronger and who is a skilled returner as well as receiver.
“I just can’t wait to work with him,” idahosa said recently, “there is five years difference in our ages so I was gone before he reached high school. It should be a memorable time and surely fun.”
And he is really a nice guy says coach Gaétan Richard.
“Idahosa is great to work with, he is a fine team player and we just love to get the ball in his hands – he is the sort of player than can make good things happen.”
So, what does this young “bowl of jelly” expect to happen this season?
Some good things – he feels the Mountie offense will be at least as good as last season with an outstanding line, two fine running backs and a ton of slots. He believes Aidan O’Neal, after missing most of last season with an injury, will make his presence felt from day one.
Like most other observers, he was asked what he considers to be factors in turning the Mounties into strong contenders after previously enduring years of failure.
“it’s a combination of factors,” he replied. “From president Campbell, through AD Pierre Arsenault, the coaching staff, alumni, ongoing local supporters to the players themselves. We have become a real family.”
And he looks to see new head coach Peter Fraser develop a new style of winning culture in an affable but serious manner.
What about Idahosa’s long term plan? Well, he is currently doing a history major and intends to become a graphic designer or school teacher after completing his final two seasons of football with the Mounties.
Finally, he was asked about life in small-town Sackville.
“I just love it here,” he replied. “Folks have gotten to know me and I seldom go into a store and not have somebody strike up a conversation, mostly about sport – that is what has sold me on Sackville.”