Oregon’s Nick Wiebe highlights Canadian football talent. Wiebe remembers the days of playing football in his hometown in Western Canada. Growing up in Okotoks, Alberta, the sleepy Calgary suburb of almost 29,000, hockey, and frigid weather surrounded the youngster. Wiebe, however, strayed away from the norm, ditching the skates and sticks for cleats and helmets.
Oregon’s Nick Wiebe Highlights Canadian Football Talent
Trading Skates for Cleats
The days of snow football prepared Wiebe for the weather conditions in Eugene, Oregon, where he plays for the University of Oregon Ducks.
“Sometimes in Eugene, it’s not the nicest weather,” Wiebe said in a telephone interview. “Playing in -25 in the Provincial Championships in southern Alberta was good preparation to play in some rain here.”
Wiebe grew up playing hockey. But he developed a passion and love for the game football in his formative years. He’s not the only Canadian westerner to do so.
A rise in prominent Canadian football talent occurred in Alberta in the last few years. 21-year-old running back sensation Chuba Hubbard is from Edmonton, Alberta, last year’s Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year winner, is declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. Freshman wide receiver for Clemson Ajou Ajou hails from Brooks, Alberta, with tremendous promise for a successful college career.
Wiebe is the latest player from the Prairies to commit to a perennial college football program. The sophomore is a part of an Oregon Ducks team that won the Pac-12 in a shortened season, earning the right to compete in the Fiesta Bowl against Iowa State.
The young linebacker is out to prove why players from Western Canada can compete in top NCAA Football conferences.
“When the guys up North get a chance, people are surprised how good we can play and how we can perform in the competition down in the States,” Wiebe said.
After serving as a scout role in his freshman season, Wiebe awaited a chance for more playing time as a sophomore.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America, so too did the chance of a full Pac-12 season.
As uncertainty grew over the Pac-12 having a season, Wiebe spent time with his family in Calgary. He made his way back to Eugene in July, a full two months before the Pac-12 announced the resumption of football activities.
Strict health protocols and testing policies defined this season. But Wiebe didn’t care. The chance to be with his teammates, improving as a player, helping the team win, superseded the drastic changes.
“I feel like this year, through the summer, I was more in my playbook and had my plays under me a bit more,” Wiebe said. “I stepped forward in the aspect of my mental preparation on the field. That was a huge step for me and it’s paying off.”
While Wiebe was grateful for the Pac-12 season to occur, it did come with sacrifices. “Running into the stadium with no fans is a crazy experience,” Wiebe said. “You are used to the lights, the smoke, and everyone yelling. It’s a view so you got to bring your own juice. All the guys have done a good job of getting excited and getting ourselves ready for games.”
Wiebe got playing action in December and during the Fiesta Bowl. He registered two tackles, albeit in a 21-17 loss to the California Golden Bears. Losing 34-17 in the Fiesta Bowl to Iowa State wasn’t Oregon’s plan. But Wiebe did record four tackles on the defensive side.
Despite limited playing time, Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal knows the impact Wiebe brings to this team. “Nick has been an outstanding member of this organization since the day he arrived,” Cristobal said. “Growth in every way possible, from a football player and physically/mentally in terms of his assignments, alignments. The way he plays the game, physically, his ability to tackle and make plays. Just a very dependable and accountable guy also playing special teams for us.”
The Future is Bright
The remainder of Wiebe’s college career is bright. Many doubted the Ducks belonged as one of the top teams in the country, after winning fewer games than the USC Trojans. The records show Oregon is the 2020 Pac-12 champions. For Wiebe, a chance to represent Western Canada with pride as a blossoming destination for football talent.