- BC Games
No holding Langley Rams’ Gilbert-Knorren back
From the start, Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren has had a knack for the end zone.
“The first play I ever did in minor football, I got the ball on a toss left and I scored,” he said.
“And after that, I just knew that football was what I wanted to do.”
Gilbert-Knorren was seven years old.
And while his position on the field may be different from when he first started, one thing hasn’t changed: he is still adept at finding the end zone.
The first year Langley Rams quarterback, now 21 years old, leads the B.C. Junior Football Conference in touchdowns.
Gilbert-Knorren, a dual/threat equally accomplished in throwing for a score or running on his own, had 14 touchdown passes and then another 10 along the ground he has scored himself.
It is a big reason the Rams find themselves in first place at 5-1 with four weeks to go in the regular season.
“If you could handcraft a quarterback and put him on your team, that is pretty much what Jahlani is,” raved Rams coach Ted Kirby.
“He brings so many things to the team: he brings an energy, leadership, and confidence.
“And I mean confidence, not cockiness,” the coach stressed. “There is not a cocky bone in that kid’s body, despite how amazingly gifted he is.”
The fact that Gilbert-Knorren, who is from Edmonton, is in Langley is for one simple reason: he wants to be a quarterback.
Prior to his arrival with the Rams, Gilbert-Knorren spent the past three seasons with the University of Saskatchewan football team. With the Huskies, he was a running back, then a quarterback, and then finally a receiver.
But quarterback is his calling.
“I am in control all the time and I feel like I can be more of a leader and I can help my team more from there than any other spot on the field,” Gilbert-Knorren said.
He also wants to work on his craft to get to the next level.
“I want to be a quarterback in the CFL, which I know is impossible, but it is my dream,” Gilbert-Knorren said.
“I am willing to work as hard as it takes, give up whatever it takes, do whatever sacrifice is needed, to become a quarterback in the CFL.”
While he has the athleticism and the talent to play in the league, people have told him that his best best to be a pro is either as a safety or receiver.
“I’m looking for what makes me happy and I don’t get the same feeling playing another position on the field,” Gilbert-Knorren said.
The last Canadian to start a game in the league at quarterback was Giulio Caravatta, with the B.C. Lions back in 1996.
Langley was the fourth and final BCFC camp Gilbert-Knorren visited.
“I saw the program they had and sat down with the coaches; it was the perfect fit,” he described.
It also helped that he was joining a team which made it all the way to the Canadian Bowl championship game.
Since arriving in Langley, Gilbert-Knorren has tried to focus more on improving as a pocket passer.
“I have been working on being a pass-first guy and seeing how strong our offensive line is, I definitely get to work on that because I have so much time in the pocket that I don’t really have to run,” he said.
“I feel more comfortable in the pocket (so) hopefully this is going to give me a chance to develop as a passer.”
It also helps that Gilbert-Knorren is playing on the league’s top offensive team. The Rams average 48.5 points per game. They also lead the league in rushing and passing.
Through six games, Gilbert-Knorren has completed 53 per cent of his passes (76-for-142) for 1,307 yards. He has thrown 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. And on the ground, he has rushed for 349 yards on 46 carries, a 7.6 average, and scored a league-best 10 touchdowns.
Prior to coming to Langley this summer, Gilbert-Knorren did have the opportunity to practise with the Edmonton Eskimos as part of their practice roster.
He called it an amazing experience getting direction from the Edmonton coaching staff and getting pointers from the Eskimos quarterbacking tandem of Mike Reilly and Matt Nichols.