Alouettes could target Lachine’s Enock Makonzo in Tuesday’s CFL draft

“Yes, he’s on our radar,” GM Danny Maciocia said. “I deem him to be a very good football player. … He’s a legitimate CFL player.”

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When Danny Maciocia was the head coach at Université de Montréal, he recruited Enock Makonzo, hoping to get the standout defensive player to commit to the Carabins.

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Makonzo, however, had loftier aspirations, figuring his future might be better paved in the US After spending time at a junior college — New Mexico Military Institute — the Lachine native transferred to the University of Coastal Carolina, in Conway, SC

After Makonzo’s three seasons with the Chanticleers, Maciocia, now the Alouettes’ general manager, could well get his man. The Als have the fourth overall selection in Tuesday night’s CFL draft, and could pick Makonzo, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound Lachine native.

“Yes, he’s on our radar,” Maciocia told the Montreal Gazette on Thursday. “I deem him to be a very good football player. Yes, I did recruit him. He had a pretty good career south of the border. He’s a legitimate CFL player.

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“He’s an even-keeled kid. He didn’t have an easy upbringing, one that was very difficult. Probably the best thing he did was leave. By leaving, obviously, there was a lot of growing up. I’ll give him credit for that. He was able to remain focused. I have ended up having a pretty good career. And I graduated.”

Makonzo, 24, recently decided to turn pro although he could have played one more season by using the NCAA’s eligibility extension granted all athletes due to COVID-19. He’s a versatile player who was used at cornerback, safety, linebacker and even off the edge.

Ranked as high as third at one point by the CFL’s Central Scouting Bureau, he slipped to eighth in its final ratings — ostensibly because he failed to attend the league’s combine for draft-eligible players while contemplating his future.

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“That would definitely be a great opportunity, to play where I grew up,” Makonzo told The Gazette this week. “I believe I’m the caliber of a first-round pick, but so many things can happen in the draft. Whoever picks me, I know they’re going to have a great player at the end of the day.

“It’s my versatility and my character,” added Makonzo, who attended CEGEP Vieux-Montréal. “I believe I have all the elements to succeed at the next level — not just physically, but mentally as well.”

Makonzo played 27 games over his career at Coastal Carolina. I have produced 79 solo and 71 assisted tackles, two quarterback sacks, five forced fumbles and two recoveries. He was the Chanticleers’ first Canadian prospect and completed his collegiate career by making 11 tackles in the school’s 47-41 victory over Northern Illinois last December in the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl, played in Orlando, Fla. It marked the first FBS Bowl victory in Coastal Caroline’s history. He also graduated that month with a degree in business management.

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“I was happy with my (senior) season,” he said. “I was able to contribute to helping my team to a first bowl win. That’s why I went to Coastal Carolina; for the future. I saw the potential we had to become something.

“It would be a blessing, at the end of the day, to play professionally. Not too many get the opportunity.”

Rob Fry, Makonzo’s Ottawa-based agent, said he has heard from virtually every CFL team heading into the draft. While Fry believes his client will be selected within the first two rounds, he can’t guarantee how early that might occur.

“For sure he’s being considered a first-round pick by teams, but I’m not saying it’s a lock,” Fry said. “He’ll definitely go in the first two rounds, but his situation is unique. He didn’t have a pro day, being in the portal, so teams couldn’t evaluate him. But his film of him’s good and I think a team will be willing to use a first- or second-round pick on him.

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“He’s physical. He comes downhill and will hit a guy. He has made so many tackles in his career and that he translates really well to special teams obviously… being able to run downhill and make tackles. He’s not the biggest or the longest, but he makes up for it with his physicality and ability to make tackles. I love that about him. He’s instinctive. Coastal Carolina had him playing all over, roving around in that defense and relying on his instincts from him at a high level. Teams are excited about that.”

While Makonzo’s eligible for the NFL draft, which began Thursday night, he’s unlikely to be selected, Fry admitted. He could, however, be signed over the weekend for a tryout as a free agent.

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