Oklahoma football: Josiah St. John only wanted to play football — American football

After a journey that took him from Toronto to Fresno, Calif., to Athens, Texas, and now to Norman, Josiah St. John is thrilled to be the first Canadian to play football for the Sooners.
by Ryan Aber Published: August 14, 2014

NORMAN — On those early morning bus rides to Fresno City College, Josiah St. John wasn’t thinking about playing in front of more than 80,000 people.

He wasn’t thinking about living in a brand-new housing like Oklahoma’s Headington Hall.

St. John wasn’t thinking about the possibility the NCAA could alter the rules by the time he reached his final college destination to allow for unlimited food and snacks for the players.

St. John just wanted to play football — American football, he still calls it.

“I just had a burning desire to play American football,” the Toronto-area native said. “I begged my parents.”

After a journey that took him from Toronto to Fresno to Texas and now to Norman, Josiah St. John is thrilled to be the first Canadian to play football for the Sooners.

St. John’s parents, Lovelace and Esther St. John, took some convincing before they let him head to California.

“We were nervous to some extent,” Lovelace said. “We wanted to make sure this would work.

“But we saw the passion he had for it. We saw the work ethic he had.”

That passion was on full display during those early morning bus rides.

St. John lived about 30 minutes from the school. Without a car, he had to catch the bus often before the sun came up to get to the college early enough for workouts and then class.

Without a scholarship, St. John had to scrape by. He often went without food. Before heading to the school, he had never been to California and had no family there.

“It was just a struggle,” Josiah said. “Looking back at it now, it probably made me stronger. Everything’s easier now being here. I don’t regret going to California. I loved it when I was there.”

St. John, a 6-foot-6, 300-pounder, opened eyes at Fresno. Arkansas called.

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by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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