Belgian Lineman Headed To Top US College

Defensive lineman Tibo Debaillie from Gistel, Belgium is heading to the United States to play college football with a top NCAA Division I team this year.

Debaillie, who played for reigning Belgian champion Ostend Pirates, was noticed by Europe’s Elite, a new organization whose aim is to identify talented college eligible football players in Europe and showcase them for top American universities. After visiting a number of campuses, Debaillie has received solid offers from two major schools and tentative offers from three more. He will make his decision soon.

Although there are a number of Europeanborn players playing college football in the United States, they have had to take the long hard road to get there. This is now changing for the better. Europe’s Elite is among the growing number of organizations dedicated solely to finding these players and using its contacts to help them get to premier US schools.

The 6’3″ 265 lb Debaillie is the first player to be able to take advantage of the contacts developed by co-founder Brandon Collier and his partner Evan Harrington. With schools like Penn State, Michigan, Massachusetts and many more lined up, Collier’s Europe’s Elite seems well prepared to help young players such as Debaillie.

Lee Rosky, head coach of the Belgian national team:

“Tibo has more potential than any player I have seen in Belgium. Strength, quickness, aggression, work ethic are all there so it is great to see him really working hard to get a chance to play in the U.S. rather than a wait and see attitude. Tibo is a great kid and I can’t wait to see where the opportunities take him. “

Former NFL/CFL lineman, Brandon Collier says he has developed a network of 50-60 college football coaches who he can contact to notify them of talented young players in Europe:

“I have been playing in Europe for some time and have come to realize that there are plenty of talented young players in Europe who might go totally undiscovered by American colleges. Over the years, I have built up a network of coaches and they are definitely interested in talent from outside North America.”

Collier, who now plays for the Frankfurt Universe of the German Football League, has also suited up for Austria’s Swarco Raiders. 

So far Collier has not charged anything for the services.

Needless to say, Debaillie’s parents Yvan and Linda Debaillie are ecstatic. Although they have not yet announced which school their son will attend, they could’t be happier with the opportunity:

“This has changed our lives. Brandon and the others really seem to know what US college coaches are looking for. Our son has received several Div 1 scholarship offers.”

European players gaining attention

As players like Moritz Boehringer and Anthony Dable, both of whom have graduated straight from teams in Europe to the NFL, gain attention, American colleges are beginning to realize the potential of international players.

Debaillie will soon join the ranks of other Europeans who have attended US schools to play football and moved on the the NFL. Germany’s Sebastian Vollmer (Houston) and Markus Kuhn (NC State) as well as Sweden’s David Hedelin (Purdue) and Estonia’s Margus Hunt (SMU) are just a few of the Europeans who have gained the benefit of playing football while getting a college education. Other Belgians who have moved on to American colleges include Loliki Bongo-Wanga, Willy Bongo-Boloweti and Patrice Majondo-Mwamba all of whom played at Texas Tech. Loïc Sapart is enrolled at West Hills Junior College and is about to start his first season there.

It looks like the trend is picking up speed.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.