Florida lineman earns college scholarship after growing up avoiding lions in Africa

Cameron Smith

If you had told Blanchard Sanwouo at age 10 he would be a college football prospect as a high school senior in America, he wouldn't have believed you. Not only was Sanwouo living in Cameroon rather than the U.S., he had not yet learned to speak English fluently.

Then, there were the lions, which seemed to be a much more significant threat than opponents on the other side of the line at the time.

Yes, Sanwouo grew up staring down lions and other big game in rural Cameroon. As chronicled by the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV and a host of other sources, Sanwouo helped grow crops and raise livestock on his family’s farm just outside Yaounde Cameroon until two years ago, when he travelled to Florida in search of a better education.

That’s what he found at Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep, where he was taken in by a foster family and quickly became an integral part of the Christian Prep football program.

In the two years since he arrived, Sanwouo has greatly improved his English skills and his ability to get to the passer and clear holes for the run game, eventually improving enough that he gained the attention of the Liberty University coaching staff, which offered Sanwouo a scholarship. He accepted, officially earning himself a free collegiate education less than two years after arriving in America.

Not bad for a kid who spent most of his childhood hoping to avoid seeing lions in the marketplace.

"There are sirens that go off to warn people when a lion is seen,” Sanwouo told the Sentinel. “Though I never have been face to face with a lion, I have been very close to them a couple of times. It's very scary. I know people who have been attacked."

No wonder a tough pass rusher seems like a simple and underwhelming threat.

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