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B.C. athlete becomes first UBC player to be drafted to NFL

Giovanni Manu was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round
Offensive lineman Giovanni Manu (left) was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft, becoming the first UBC player to ever be drafted to the NFL. (Rich Lam/UBC Athletics Photo)

A Pitt Meadows athlete has made NFL history by becoming the first player to ever be drafted from UBC.

Giovanni Manu was the topic of much discussion heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, especially after his impressive pro day performance, which led to meetings with more than 11 teams leading up to the draft.

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READ MORE: Pitt Meadows athlete cracks top-10 of CFL Scouting Bureau list

But now Manu will be trading his Thunderbirds jersey for a Detroit Lions one as the towering offensive lineman was selected by the Lions in the fourth round, making him the 126th overall pick in the 2024 Draft.

READ MORE: B.C. linemen drawing eyes south of border ahead of NFL draft

Manu began his football journey at Pitt Meadows Secondary, where he played on the line on both sides of the ball due to a lack of players. But despite this double duty, Manu was a force to be reckoned with throughout his entire high school career, which led to him earning a spot with the UBC Thunderbirds on their O-line.

Throughout four years with the Thunderbirds, Manu was a major player on the team, with the 350-pound lineman even getting his team to the Hardy Cup last year, where the Thunderbirds took the conference championship in a close 28-27 win against the University of Alberta.

Manu is joining a team with plenty of other O-line talent and will soon be playing alongside the likes of Graham Glasgow, Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Penei Sewell, and fellow first-year Lion Kevin Zeitler.

After the Lions picked up a tsunami of support last season and had their best playoff run in more than a decade, Manu will hope to help make an impact on the team and continue their upward trajectory in the coming season.

The Lions clearly have a lot of faith in Manu, with the team trading a third-round pick in the 2025 Draft in order to move up into the fourth round and snag the 6’7” Canadian.

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Manu won’t be the only UBC player heading to the NFL next season either, with fellow Thunderbird Theo Benedet signing an undrafted free agent contract with the Chicago Bears.

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The last U Sports player to be drafted in the NFL was David Onyemata, who was selected in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Brandon Tucker

About the Author: Brandon Tucker

I have been a journalist since 2013, with much of my career spent covering sports and entertainment stories in Alberta.
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