Bombers welcome Congo-born Yenga

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:14 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The latest youngster to make his Bomber debut comes to Winnipeg from the Congo by way of Texas.

And he has a Russian name to boot.

Youri Yenga isn’t exactly sure where he got his name, but he has an idea.

“My dad used to travel a lot, and if I remember it right, I was born when he was coming back from Europe,” Yenga said. “I don’t know. I don’t remember the story well. Maybe he picked it up from Russia. I like the name, though.”

Yenga was a star linebacker at Southern Methodist University in Texas, but he’s a defensive lineman for the Bombers. He will play primarily on special teams against the Argos on Wednesday, but he expects to get a few snaps on defence as well.

“Yes sir,” the 23-year-old said. “I’ve been training for this, so I’m definitely thankful for the opportunity.”

Yenga was born in the Congo and lived there until he was 13 or 14. That’s when the family moved to Texas looking for a chance to make a better living. Despite that, Yenga has nothing but good memories of the Congo.

“It’s not what they show on T.V. all the time,” he said. “Of course that exists, but it’s not everywhere. I had to experience little things here and there, but it’s just like a regular life.”

The 6-foot-1, 231-pounder was a two-time All-Conference USA player at SMU, where he recorded 139 tackles, 13 sacks, nine pass knockdowns and seven forced fumbles. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent but was cut at the end of camp.

He joined the Arena Football League’s Spokane Shock in January and then got another NFL tryout with the Chicago Bears before the Bombers came calling earlier this month. He signed with the Blue and Gold on July 2.

The Bomber defence could use a spark from Yenga, considering defensive tackle Bryant Turner, with five, is the only Bomber who has a sack through three games. The defence as a whole has been lethargic this season, but Yenga, should he get a few snaps on defence, sounds like someone who will try to change that.

“I feel like I can be an all-around guy,” he said. “I have endurance, and I just don’t stop. I feel like that’s my strength.”


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