From Sleeper to Reaper - Berlin Thunder WR Bais Kouanda
The Berlin Thunder have one of the most underrated wide receivers in the league on their roster: Bais Kouanda.
The 21-year-old wideout from Hamburg, Germany, played for the Sea Devils in 2022 and has signed with the Berlin Thunder for the 2023 season.
At practice, Kouanda stands out with his speed, acceleration, and crafty routes. But how does nobody know about the 180cm tall and 80kg heavy wide receiver? I interviewed a few players and coaches of the Berlin Thunder to find out more about the young wideout.
How it all started
“My football journey began roughly five years ago in a park in Hamburg while I was inspired by a TV series and encouraged by my close friend and now teammate, Fabian Tchuda, to join the Hamburg Pioneers,” Kouanda explained in an interview. “Through some twists and turns, I eventually landed with the A-juniors of the Hamburg Huskies.”
In 2022, Kouanda made the Hamburg Sea Devils roster while only being 20 years old. However, the German franchise heavily leaned on their two American wide receivers Jean Constant and Lamar Jordan III during the season which is why the youngster has not seen the field too many times.
Thunder WR Aaron Jackson about Kouanda: “I believe he will take the league by surprise”
“My choice would be Bais Kouanda, he’s very quick and crafty with his route,” American wide receiver Aaron Jackson reveals after being asked about a wide receiver to look out for in 2023. “He adds a certain element to the game that is very natural and smooth, I believe he will take the league by surprise.”
Last year, the German wideout had the chance to learn from players like Jean Constant and Lamar Jordan III who both had expectational college careers. Now, Kouanda learns from Aaron Jackson who has proved to be one of the best American wide receivers in Europe at the moment.
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From Hamburg to Berlin
“From my first conversation with the franchise, I was convinced of their structure and goals, which made the tough choice between the Sea Devils and the Thunder for this season a bit easier,” Kouanda comments in an interview. Despite this tough decision, Kouanda will face a talented wide receiver room once again with Aaron Jackson, Robin Wilzeck, and Max Zimmermann leading the way.
“This [wide receiver] squad is the most ambitious and talented group I've ever had the pleasure of being a part of,” Kouanda comments in an interview. “That's one of the reasons I came to Berlin in the first place - to work under [wide receiver] coach [Elijah] Pope and with this receiver core, to become the best player I can develop into. I haven't been disappointed.”
Developed Skills = More Snaps in 2023?
How many snaps Kouanda will earn himself in 2023 with the Thunder is still up in the air. But the young wide receiver certainly impressed his teammates and coaches at practice so far. As Berlin Thunder offensive coordinator Henry Schlegel comments in an interview, he is more than happy with the youngster on his offense. “Bako [Bais Kouanda] is a very underrated player in our squad and a lot of people aren't aware of him. He is a very elusive player with a high route-running-ceiling and yards after catch ability. He moves very smoothly and has a good transition.”
As far as is usage in 2023 is concerned, Schlegel pointed towards his traits and how well they fit what he likes to do on offense for the Thunder this season. “[Bais Kouanda] fits well into a lot of things we want to do on offense,” the young offensive coordinator reveals. “He can take advantage of every inch of space the defense gives him, and we anticipate him benefiting a lot from the attention the guys next to him will get. We are surprised he didn't see the field more last year and are looking forward to his contribution and growth in 2023.”