British Columbia strong (VIDEO)

Sheldon Mack

Three British Columbia recruits opt to join local CWUAA team’s 2014 class.

Three local players who found success at the high school level have opted to embark on their CIS careers in their home provinces.

Sheldon Mack, A.J. Blackwell and Evan Horton are the newest members of the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds. All three recruits will join the team for the 2014 CWUAA season.


The 6’4, 225 pound linebacker from Victoria, British Columbia was drawn to the facilities as well as the strength and tradition of the football program.

“I made the choice that UBC was the school for me because I really liked the coaching staff and thought the campus/facilities were exceptional,” explained Mack of his decision.  “I like the tradition that is Thunderbirds football and thought that is something that I would want to be a part of.”

Mack comes to the Thunderbirds after guiding the Mount Douglas Rams of the British Columbia High School Football Association (BCHSFA) to their third consecutive Provincial ‘AAA’ Championship. In two seasons with the Rams, the linebacker registered 50 tackles, five sacks and caught one interception.

In addition to the Rams, Mack has also suited up for Gordon Head Raiders, Victoria Ducks and Team British Columbia.

“Sheldon has a huge frame and is a rangy fluid athlete,” commented Thunderbirds Head Coach Shawn Olson.  “He was one of the defensive leaders on the past 2 ‘AAA’ BC championship teams.”

“He has been very good to this point in his career but the really exciting thing about Sheldon is the amount of potential as young man and a player. I am really excited to add his championship experience and a person of his quality to our Thunderbird football family. “

Echoing the sentiments of Olson was Thunderbirds Defensive Coordinator and Academic Coach, Jerry Friesen.

“Sheldon is a big, physical linebacker,” added Friesen.  “He moves extremely well for a big man and has a very high ceiling.”

“You can tell he has been well coached and we just want to work with him and see if we can take it to another level.”

AJ Blackwell 1


There were several factors that played a role in the 5’10, 170 pound defensive back/athlete from North Vancouver, British Columbia’s decision to commit to Thunderbirds.

“I chose to continue my education at UBC because it is one of the top schools in the country for academia, it is kind of close to home as well as my chemistry with the coaching staff,” said Blackwell.

Recently, Blackwell completed high school career with Carson Graham Eagles of the British Columbia High School Football Association (BCHSFA).  This past season, he amassed 2675 rushing yards and scored 33 touchdowns and guided the Eagles to the provincial ‘AA’ Championship final, where the team lost by the narrowest of margins against John Barsby Bulldogs. For his exceptional play on the field, Blackwell was selected as a Provincial All-Star.

Additionally, he has suited up for Team British Columbia.

“We have recruited AJ for the last two years and were maybe a little bit more aware of his freakish athleticism than most,” expressed Olson.  “He is very smooth and is deceptively fast athlete who is a little reminiscent of Marcus Allen.”

“AJ truly fits the UBC mold of a student athlete, exceptional athlete, outstanding student and a fantastic young man.  I am very excited to work with him on tapping into his immense potential over the next five years.”


Evan Horton


The 6’1, 205 pound linebacker from Mission, British Columbia completed his high school career with Mission Roadrunners of the British Columbia High School Football Association (BCHSFA).  For his dominance on both sides of the ball in 2013, Horton was named British Columbia ‘AA’ Player of the Year.

Moreover, Horton was a member of Team British Columbia.

Horton is thrilled to become a future Thunderbird.

“I decided to go to UBC because I feel like it is the place for me,” added Horton.  “I know lots of guys on the team already, and I played against lots of the other commits.”

“They’re all great guys. And the coaching staff, Coach Olson especially, is full of very personable guys, people who care about the bigger picture and not just football.I am so excited to be a Thunderbird! ”

Not only are the Thunderbirds exciting about Horton’s playmaking abilities but also all the intangibles he will bring to the team.

“We are very fortunate to have a young man of Evan’s quality join our program,” commented Olson.  “He has size, athleticism, intelligence and is a natural leader.”

“One of the things that really stood out to us in the recruiting process outside of Evan’s football ability was his leadership ability.  He is one of those rare players who is not only the best player on the field, but also the hardest working player on the field and he has such a positive disposition that people naturally gravitate to him.  When you add that he is a 90 percent student in his academic courses, it becomes clear what a rare blend of qualities Evan possesses.   He is another great addition to the Thunderbird Family.”


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