He is a hometown boy who loved to play and play he did, all kinds of sports. But his passion was football and he was good – so good in fact that in 2004 this former McMaster Marauder was awarded the HEC CRIGHTON trophy recognizing the most outstanding collegiate football player in Canada. In the same year Jesse was honoured by the CIS as not just the best football player in the country but the best university ATHLETE in the country.
Jesse followed in the footsteps of his father Neil who had an accomplished career at the University of Ottawa and ten remarkable years in the CFL. 2014 is a memorable year for this father-son team. Later this year Neil will be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame while his son is recognized now in his hometown as a member of the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame.
Jesse earned football prominence very early in his Nelson High School career. He captained the 1999 Nelson Lords to an undefeated season, earning a trip to the Metro Bowl played in Toronto’s Skydome. A clear underdog, Nelson defeated a bigger and much older Toronto Central Tech team to win the provincial title. This gifted running back was named the game’s MOST VALUABLE OFFENSIVE PLAYER AWARD and a Greater Toronto Area All-Star.
Heavily recruited, Jesse selected McMaster where he made an immediate impact. He electrified spectators (and coaches too) with his speed and elusiveness. In his third year he broke the single season O.U.A. rushing mark gaining a remarkable 1497 yards and averaging 8.4 yards per carry. He also tied the single season touchdown record with 20. His sensational season earned the Nelson grad McMaster’s Male Athlete of the Year. In his senior season he continued to tear up the turf rushing for 1816 yards – averaging 10.2 yards per carry and establishing a record 21 touchdowns. He was named OUA 1st Team All-Star and CIS All-Canadian and he repeated as Mac’s Athlete of the Year.
As a young man Jesse dreamt about playing pro ball in the NFL. Even though drafted in 2004 in the first round by the Hamilton Tiger Cats he was drawn south of the border where he signed as a free agent with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. The Cats hoped he would return to Tigertown. And he did. Jesse had an incredible rookie season and earned a spot as an Eastern all-star. Injuries short-circuited the talented young man’s six year CFL career.
This gifted athlete recently turned his athleticism to bobsledding. Recognized as one of the top brakemen in the world, the Nelson grad has twice worn the Canadian singlet on the world stage at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games. Today we recognize his football talent and welcome “hometown hero” – Jesse Lumsden - to the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame.