John Levi-Kruse rings the sea bell with the rest of his Hamburg Sea Devils teammates. Photo by Jonas Wicker @jonas_wic
This is a once-in-a-lifetime dream for John Levi Kruse. The multi-positional fullback, tight end and long snapper from Germany has the next chapter of his life planned out — becoming a mechanical engineer. But at the moment, he’s willing to bet on himself this May to compete for the long-snapper job and a spot with the Lions.
The club officially signed Levi Kruse on Monday, the Global prospect who most recently played for the Hamburg Sea Devils in the European League of Football (ELF) and was a participant at the CFL Global Combine last year before the BC Lions nabbed him in round three of the 2022 Global Draft.
The dream started in 2011 with his brother’s friend who asked them to come to one practice. Since then, Levi Kruse hasn’t stopped believing in the possibility of playing pro football. He had to transition from flag football to tackle football, he had to learn the proper way to train in the gym and he had to improve his English — all for the love of football.
With less than two months away from touching down to Kamloops for training camp, here are 5 Things To Know about the versatile prospect from Germany.
1. John Lived Abroad In Maryland For A Year
When John had completed all his schooling in Germany, he wanted to pause his further education at university. He didn’t want to enroll in mechanic school yet and wasn’t ready to start his career. There is no better option than for him to move to the states to study abroad, learn a new language and play the sport he’s intrigued with.
John decided to try out for the Northwestern High School football team in Maryland. Being an international student going to a school with the White House just down the road, it was an unforgettable experience for John as a 17-year-old.
“A totally different culture. It was awesome. In the end, I think pretty much all the exchange students have the same problem. When the flight is going home, you don’t want to leave yet. You want to stay there because you had a great time,” John recalled.
“You’re away from home for the first time, you get out of your comfort zone, learn new things, meet new people.”
Not only did John benefit from playing football in the States, but he also improved in English drastically during his stay in Maryland. He said he went from speaking a few sentences to almost speaking English fluently when he was able to thrive in an environment he enjoys.
2. Levi Kruse Is A First-Year Mechanical Engineering Student
Once he returned from living abroad, John said he spent three years in an apprenticeship at a car mechanic school. After getting drafted by the Lions, he informed the team that he’ll have to put his football dream on hold to complete his bachelor’s professional program to enroll at a university in mechanical engineering.
“I started university last fall, and now I’m taking one semester off to get the opportunity to play in Canada and we’ll see how it goes from here. I started the apprenticeship when I was 18, learning how to fix cars and that stuff. That takes three years in Germany. And then I worked one year on top of my bachelor professional in the last two years,” John said.
3. The 2022 CFL Global Combine Provided An Unforgettable Experience
Along with other Global prospects, John competed against the very best players from U Sports at the CFL Combine in 2022. His versatility of being able to play multiple positions and his testing numbers at the combine proved that he’s worth a shot in the CFL.
“It was a great experience. You get the call that you’re invited to the combine and then you fly half of the earth to get there. You’re sitting on the plane with people that usually go there for vacation. And you’re going there to live your dream to try to get in a big league, making your hobby into your job in the future,” John recalled.
It was a mixed feeling of excitement and stress for John because he knows he only has one opportunity to live a dream that he has been planning his whole life around. But when it was time to switch on, John didn’t disappoint.
The six-foot-two, 246-pound multi-purpose prospect ran a 4.88 seconds 40-yard time and logged in 18 reps on the bench press. John also recorded a 7.06 time on the 3-cone drill and 4.42 seconds on the shuttle run.
“Run ’em over, just bulldoze them.”
🇩🇪 TE/FB, John Levi Kruse isn’t letting anything get in the way on his path to the #GlobalDraft. pic.twitter.com/laau1QaMW7
— CFL (@CFL) April 14, 2022
4. John Can Pull And Squat Big Weights
When he started working out, it used to revolve around machines. John learned quickly that if he wanted to be a better football player, he needed to expand his training method to improve his strength and explosiveness.
“A former college player that was in our club as an import. He trained us in the gym. My favourite lifts are back squats and deadlifts because I think I’m pretty strong in them. I really love Olympic lifting as well. I’ve benefitted a lot from it,” John said.
John’s all-time deadlift personal best is 240 kilograms (530 pounds) and his back squat personal best is 220 kilograms (485 pounds). John also has a bench personal best of 150 kilograms (330 pounds).
5. A Former Standout Player For The Hamburg Sea Devils
He came to the realization that he could be playing professional football after an invite to the NFL International Combine in 2021 and 2022. Before being selected by the Lions in the 2022 CFL Global Draft, Levi-Kruse played for the Hamburg Sea Devils in the European League of Football. During the stretch of showing football scouts in North America that he is capable of playing in the CFL, John was also part of a football culture that is thriving in Europe.
“It’s getting bigger with the new league. Our games were broadcasted, that’s pretty cool. This year is even more and it brings a lot more people into it. We started the first season with around about 2000 people at the stadium. Last season, we had over 3000 people on average. We have a championship game with over 20,000 people. The Sea Devils also play the first home game in the big Hamburg stadium from the soccer team. And there are already over 11,000 tickets sold. So that’s a pretty big atmosphere right now, the hype from football is coming to Germany and getting bigger,” Levi-Kruse said.
John played two seasons with the Sea Devils and scored seven touchdowns off 340 all-purpose yards on offence. The TE/FB and long snapper is set to open a new chapter of his football career with the Lions.
“I think it’s a big chance to show what you’re capable of doing. When you make it to another level, it’s probably because you’re one of the top ones in the previous level. I think it’s going to be challenging but for me, I’m trying to show up with everything that I can to make the final cuts. And don’t just be on the practice roster but get playing time. So, it’s pressure. I, myself love competition. It’s going to be awesome,” Levi-Kruse said.