If Siouxland football fans turned their TV sets to ESPN2 on Thursday night, they got to see a familiar face take a big step in his professional career.
Former Morningside University defensive standout Niklas Gustav took the field Thursday for the first time as a professional ballplayer, as he made his Canadian Football League debut in a game between the CFL’s BC Lions and Edmonton Elks.
The Lions, who play in Vancouver, British Columbia, selected Gustav this past April in the fourth round of the CFL draft. The selection came just three days before the Mustangs’ 45-29 win over Baker in the NAIA National Championship Series Quarterfinals.
Gustav was the final player picked in the 36-player draft.
“It’s super exciting, obviously,” Gustav said in April about getting drafted. “It’s been kind of a longer process here since the beginning of the year, and I’m really happy that I’m going to have the opportunity to go up there and prove myself against that high level of competition.”
After taking up the sport in his hometown of Hamburg, Germany, Gustav moved to the U.S. before his senior year of high school to pursue a college football career. He spent one season at Aquinas High School in San Bernardino, Calif., before playing college ball at Morningside.
People are also reading…
In four seasons at Morningside, Gustav set a team record with 25.5 career sacks, and led the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) with 17.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks this past season.
“Niklas is a captain,” Morningside head coach Steve Ryan said in April. “Start with that, he is such a great leader and he has started in so many games, and he has been in so many situations, … He’s got a great skill set, he’s got a great mind, and he learns really well.”
Gustav was listed as a backup defensive end in Thursday's game, and played on both special teams and defense. He was not credited with any tackles, and did not accumulate any stats in BC's 21-16 loss.
The Lions will be back in action next Saturday, with a road game at Ottawa.