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Lions select Canadian OT Manu out of UBC

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The Detroit Lions drafted Canadian offensive tackle Giovanni Manu with the 126th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. He is the highest Canadian to be drafted out of USPORTS since Vaughn Martin was drafted 113th overall by the then San Diego Chargers in 2009.

Manu was born in Tonga and went to high school in Pitt Meadows, B.C.

The towering six-foot-eight, 350-pound Manu and highly touted teammate Theo Benedet anchored a UBC offensive line that allowed 15 sacks and helped the offence average 6.8 yards per rush.

The Thunderbirds reached the Vanier Cup last year, dropping a 16-9 decision to the Montreal Carabins. Still, it was UBC's first appearance in the Canadian university football championship game since 2015.

Manu became the first UBC player to be taken in the NFL draft.

"I’m not here on my own," Manu said. "I’m here because of my family and all the mentors I’ve met on the way through this amazing sport of football I discovered in Canada.

"And yeah, the journey’s only starting, it's going to get a whole lot better. But, yeah, it’s been a long process, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but I’m happy to be here."

Manu didn't attend the NFL combine but 16 teams attended UBC's pro day. He posted a 5.03-second 40-yard dash and had 23 reps in the 225-pound bench press.

Earlier this off-season, Detroit signed Canadian defensive lineman Mathieu Betts, the CFL's top defensive player last season with the B.C. Lions. Manu had a pre-draft visit with the Lions (12-5, first NFC North).