Ottawa Redblacks select defensive lineman Ta'ala with first pick of CFL global draft

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TORONTO — The Ottawa Redblacks selected defensive lineman Blessman Ta'ala with the first overall selection of the CFL global draft Tuesday.

The six-foot-two, 305-pound defensive tackle, a native Samoan, appeared in 64 games over five seasons as Hawaii. Ta'ala, 24, accumulated 142 tackles (20 for loss) and four sacks.

Following the draft, Ottawa announced it had signed Ta'ala to a CFL contract.

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"Blessman was a four-year starter at the University of Hawaii, and played productive football at a high level," said Ottawa general manager Shawn Burke. "We believe he can become part of our defensive line rotation, and gives us flexibility in how we use our roster.

"We’re extremely happy to welcome him to Ottawa."

Ta'ala was appreciative of the opportunity to play in Canada.

"First and foremost I want to thank God for this opportunity," he said. "I am excited to join the Ottawa Redblacks and I'm looking forward to meeting my new team.


Ottawa also opened the second round taking Swedish offensive lineman Lucas Lavin with the 10th overall selection. The 27-year-old most recently played for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after transferring from Northern Colorado in 2022.

"We're excited to add two quality players we had identified as being good fits for our club," said Burke. "We're looking forward to seeing them in camp, and welcoming them to Ottawa."

Four punters/kickers were taken in the first round.

Edmonton selected British kicker Dean Faithfull second overall, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders taking Australian punter Adam Korsak at No. 3.

Hamilton picked linebacker Penei Pavihi, another Samoan player, fourth overall. Montreal followed with Swedish defensive lineman Simon Lars Sandberg at No. 5 as compatriot Isaac Moore, an offensive lineman, went next to Calgary.

Moore was a five-year starter at left tackle for Temple University, setting an Owls record with 57 consecutive games played.

B.C. then selected Jamaican receiver Jevoni Robinson at No. 7. Winnipeg and Toronto closed out the first round with Australian Jamieson Sheahan (punter) and Mexico's Alfredo Gachuz Lozada (kicker) at eighth and ninth, respectively.

The five-foot-10, 225-pound Lozada will be attending the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie camp mini-camp this month. Lozada is Mexico's Liga de Fútbol Americano all-time leader in points scored and field goals made, earned its MVP honour and five times had been its leading scorer.

A total of 18 players were selected over the two rounds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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