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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Lliam Horrocks’ football journey brings him back home to uOttawa

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Ottawa’s Lliam Horrocks at Florida’s Cocoa High School. Photo provided

By Martin Cleary

Lliam Horrocks is a young, determined man on a football mission. He has carefully designed a plan to see how far he can run with his developing skills and drive.

After playing minor football in the Orleans Bengals organization and experiencing junior football (Grade 9) at École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité, Horrocks decided to take a giant step forward at age 15.

Horrocks figured his best hope for recruitment by NCAA Division 1 football universities was to head south and play American high school football. There’s a checkmark beside that now, but NCAA schools like Long Island University, Campbell University and Virginia Military Institute only issued preferred walk-on offers and not scholarships. He also has had interest from universities in the NAIA, NCAA D2 and D3, and U Sports.

But the 6-3, 220-pound defensive end is sticking with his goal of securing an NCAA Division 1 scholarship. Horrocks has tweaked his plan, will continue to develop as a lineman and will take another run at the NCAA.

Horrocks has signed a letter of intent to play his freshman football season with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees under new head coach Marcel Bellefeuille and his four-man staff. He plans to study criminology.

“The coaching staff at uOttawa just felt like it was… full of family members, honestly,” Horrocks wrote in an email interview. “Coach Nate Taylor was already recruiting me… He’s such a great and genuine guy.


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“Then Marcel Bellefeuille, as the new head coach, brought in some of the best coaches in North America to the University of Ottawa. After telling them I wanted to pursue my dreams of possibly transferring to a D1 school one day or to go pro, they assured me that they were going to give me the tools to do whatever I want. But it would be up to me to use these tools.”

Lliam Horrocks signs his letter-of-intent alongside uOttawa Gee-Gees football head coach Marcel Bellefeuille. Photo provided

Horrocks started his American football journey four years ago at Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, where he was a linebacker for his first two years and was introduced to defensive end in his junior year.

As a junior linebacker-defensive end, he compiled impressive stats – 38 solo and 33 assisted tackles in 10 games. But when the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled his 2020 senior season, he headed south to Florida.

Playing in eight of 11 games for Cocoa High School, Horrocks posted 12 solo and 10 assisted tackles. As a team, Cocoa, 10-1, reached the Florida Class 4A semifinals before losing to Cardinal Gibbons 45-15.

“As a late bloomer, I didn’t get much playing time until my junior year, when my body was ready to compete at that level,” Horrocks added. “The lack of film and pandemic played huge roles in my lack of recruitment.

“But I still have the opportunity to transfer to a D1 school, if I play well, and I’m looking forward to doing so. In the meantime, I am focusing on preparing for the (Gee-Gees’) season.”

The 2020 fall football season was challenging enough for Horrocks: coping with the coronavirus, playing his senior year and being the starting defensive end for the first time.

“I was definitely worried that my health would be put at risk, but after seeing all the precautions my team was taking to make sure that we would not get COVID, I felt really secure,” he explained.

“One of our games got cancelled due to players on the other team contracting it. I felt very blessed to be a part of a team that made sure that its players and coaches were safe.”

Noted for his work ethic and football IQ, Horrocks is spending a lot of time watching U Sports and CFL football games as he transitions back to the Canadian game.

“I just have a passion for getting better in everything I do and more specifically football,” he continued. “My willingness to learn and adapt was shown during my last season at Cocoa, where I changed positions and played better talent than I did at Saint James. I’ve been even hungrier for success lately so I’m excited to see what success I get out of my work.”

While football is a major part of his life, he’s also passionate about psychology, reading books to understand the mind and behaviour. Previously, he has volunteered at the Ottawa Mission and worked with youth.

“The States taught me a lot of life and football lessons, but mostly the football there forced me to grow and learn quicker,” Horrocks noted. “As my whole career was an adapting situation, I’m ready for any challenge U Sports brings me.”

Read More in this series on Ottawa’s HIGH SCHOOL BEST here.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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