Johnny Augustine shows out in first CFL start

Bombers’ running back Augustine puts in memorable performance in first CFL start

Link:

Bombers’ running back Augustine puts in memorable performance in first CFL start

By Ted Wyman, Winnipeg Sun

REGINA — Johnny Augustine was as disappointed as anyone else that his team lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday but he’ll still look back on the game with some fond memories.

The running back made his first CFL start at Mosaic Stadium and had a big game for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He ran for 98 yards and caught three passes for 17 yards while filling in for the suspended Andrew Harris.

The Bombers managed minus-10 yards of offence in the first quarter and didn’t get going at all until Augustine ripped off a 55-yard run in the second quarter. Quarterback Chris Streveler hit receiver Kenny Lawler for a nine-yard touchdown on the next play and the Bombers were in business.

“It’s nice to knock off that rust, knock out those jitterbugs and then you start rolling into it,” Augustine said. “It was nice to do that and just show the league that I can play in this game, I can do this at a fulltime running back and help my team try and win.

“Obviously, it’s bittersweet but you always remember your first time. I’m privileged to have my first career start under my belt, get it over with, and now we go on to the next.”

The Bombers entire offence came to life after that. Streveler started completing some passes and the Bombers wound up rushing for 186 yards.

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Gryphons win an important game on the road

The Gryphons went into the Ravens Nest and plucked out a gutsy win against the odds.

                Players celebrate after Ryan Sheahan records his first win as UofG head coach                                   Photo: Kyle Rodriguez

After suffering a bitter loss to Mac in Week 1, this was close to a must-win game. The fact that a number of new starters had to step up makes the win even sweeter. People are already saying that the defense and special teams units led the way but I give the offense credit for coming through and doing their job despite injuries and limitations.

Quick Thoughts

  • This was a very good win – on the road versus a ranked opponent. It says a lot about the character of the team and coaching staff. Congrats to Coach Sheahan on his first U Sports win as a head coach.
  • How amazing is it that freshman Clarke Barnes returned the opening kick-off 106 yards for a touchdown. He’s done that in back-to-back games!
  • Carleton’s run game had no success – they averaged just 2.8 ypc and produced 39 total yards. That’s outstanding defense against a team with a big, talented O-Line and a top notch RB.
  • The D gave up 283 passing yards while sacking the CU quarterback 5 time. 91 of those passing yards came on a single play in the 1st Q. Eliminate that one breakdown and …
  • The D produced 3 turnovers and scored 2 touchdowns. Linebacker Jared Beeksma scored one of those TDs and setup the other with a fumble-causing hit.
  • Kicker Eric Stranz was a perfect 3-for-3 on FGs and 4-for-4 on converts.
  • The offense didn’t produce much more yardage (net 278) than against Mac (net 240), but they did do an excellent job of hanging on to the ball – i.e. zero turnovers and no botched snaps/hand-offs recovered for loss. The number that really improved was 21 First Downs vs 14 but that was largely due to Carleton penalties.
  • The O did make some plays in the 4th Q when it needed to. The fact that we failed to convert on two 3rd-&-1 situations is something that has to be solved.
  • The offense also hurt themselves with a couple of unnecessary penalties – Illegal procedure, Time Clock Violation, but overall, I still felt positive about the offense. I thought some progress was made.
  • Several inexperienced OLs [Spencer Swan at LT & freshman Matteo Kucinic at LG] had to start in place of injured players. Stuart Allan played several series at RG when Coulter Woodmansey was hurt. Veteran Ben Petrie looked more comfortable in his second game at Centre. Freshman Matt Fumawera played RT this week after playing LG last week. Even with all those changes along the O-Line there were zero sacks given up and 123 rushing yards gained. I’ll take that against a veteran D like Carleton’s.

Game Stories & Stats

Gryphons.ca – Defence, Special Teams Lead Gryphons to 37-20 Road Win

OTTAWA, Ont. – Sunday night in the nation’s capital, the Guelph Gryphons earned an impressive 37-20 road win over the No. 8-nationally-ranked Carleton Ravens. And it was the Gryphon defence and special teams leading the way.

For a second consecutive week, rookie Clark Barnes took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and the University of Guelph defence recorded a pair of defensive touchdowns to propel the visiting Gryphons to a 17-point road win over the Ravens.

GoRavens.ca – check here for a recap coming soon, I assume.

The Charlatan – and maybe here later in the week.

Social Media Highlights

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McMaster Preview – Game 1/2019

I was tempted to simply re-print last year’s preview with a few updates. So much of what I said then is still true. Here is just one excerpt from my 2018 preview

The Marauders are one of 8 OUA teams expected to compete for 6 playoff spots. No team can afford to lose any games to these rivals because it will impact playoff seeding, even if it doesn’t cost them a playoff spot.

The Marauders are a team Guelph has had problems with in recent years. They are  the proverbial monkey on our back. The Gryphons have won more games against Western and Laurier over the last five years than they have against the Marauders. To make matters worse, we’ve lost multiples games to Mac that we should have won. Time to end that.

The 2018 game was a close one [16-15] but an ugly loss all the same. The defense was excellent but the O simply wasn’t good enough. Two missed FGs really hurt. With a talent advantage, a perfect opportunity to end the Mac “jinx” was wasted.

Marauder logoIt marked the third time in recent years that the Gryphons had lost a season opener to the Marauders – 2012 & 2014 were the other years. Those 3 previous openers were all at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium where the Gryphons have never won.

The Mac-Guelph rivalry has been as heated as ever the past half-dozen years. No question the Gryphons need to win it to be viewed as a top tier OUA team and a team that could compete nationally.

How much do the trends and history mean when both teams have undergone major changes since last year? I don’t know. Hopefully things take a positive turn tomorrow.

It is disappointing to see that two-thirds of our sensational trio of freshmen running backs don’t appear to be playing tomorrow. Freshman Kaine Stevenson and sophomore Juwan Jeffrey will shoulder the load in the run game. Of course, QB Theo Landers has to be a running threat to really put pressure on the Marauder defense.

If the run game works, then I think our passing game will produce some fireworks. The talent level of our receiving corps is spectacular. It is a bit of a mix of experience and youth but they are all talented. As a group they are very fast and bigger than average.

I also really like the looks of our offensive line with 4 players who have starting experience – LT Eric Starczala, C Ben Petrie, RG Coulter Woodmansey and RT Liam Lapointe. The newbie at LG is freshman Matt Fumawera, a Markham native who played 2 years of Div 1 CEGEP football after high school.

I’m interested to see how Dennis McPhee defense looks tomorrow. The defense will have new starters at four positions – Jared Beeksma at Will LB, Justin Lauzon at Sam LB, A.J. Allen at DE and Harrison Bagayogo at CB. McMaster really struggled on offense last year. IIRC only UofT was worse. Mac’s personnel is largely the same but Coach Ptaszek and OC Corey Grant have brought in a new offense.

Game previews & related links:

OUA.ca website: Week 1 55-Man Rosters

Gryphons.ca: There is no preview of Sunday’s game, but you can check out their preview of the Gryphons 2019 season.

McMaster.ca: No game preview

Recent Series History

McMaster has a clear edge in the series over the past decade+ going 13-3 in the head-to-head since 2007. The Marauders have had the advantage of hosting 10 of those 16 games. The Marauders also hold 30-19 advantage in regular season games since the OUA was founded in 1971. The Gryphons are winless at Mac’s Ron Joyce Stadium which opened in 2008.

2018 – Mac 16-15
2017 – Mac 29-9
2016 – Mac 17-11 [OUA Q-Final]
2016 – Mac 27-15
2015 – Guelph 33-23
2014 – Mac 20-15 [Yates Cup]
2014 – Mac 34-27 OT
2013 – Guelph 24-22

Broadcast Info

TV: I assume it will be on Rogers Cable

LIVE STREAM: OUA.tv Click on LIVE EVENTS

RADIO: TSN 1150

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Coach Sheahan mic’d up

This is a must-watch for Gryphon fans.

The Quarterbacks:

#1  Dante Djan
#8  Brayden Lassenba
#9  Kaidan Gilbert
#17  Theo Landers
Red t-shirt/black shorts – Andrew Horscroft

Lots more I could say about this but it’s too late for me to start on that tonight.

This video only reinforces my opinion that we have the right coach in charge of the program.

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Notes from Day 3 of TC2019

Receivers Coach Devan Sheahan instructing some of his guys

I made it to Guelph for the afternoon practice Saturday. The fact that there is an afternoon practice is a change from previous years. Coach Sheahan has moved away from the 4-hour power practice and back to the more traditional 2-a-days. Most days the practices are at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.. The practices themselves don’t look a lot different from the style that we’ve seen since Stu took over in 2010. They are fast paced, with something happening on almost every part of the field.

♦ I noticed a lot of time was spent on deep passes. That doesn’t come as a surprise based on what Coach Sheahan has said he wanted to do and his history at Calgary. The thing that jumped out at me was the amount of talent that the Gryphons have at the receiver positions. After watching them yesterday I have to think we have the most talented group of receivers in the OUA.

In his 5th year, Kade Belyk is the veteran over the group. I think of him as Guelph’s Hunter Renfrow – i.e. the kind of guy who, if you met him on the street, you’d never guess was a football player, but put him on the field and he is just a Natural. Renfrow, of course, is the former walk-on receiver who turned into a star at Clemson, and looks to be a Year 1 starter with the NFL Raiders.

Zeph Fraser, Kian Schaffer-Baker, AJ Chase (not in pads) and  Mike O’Shea Jr are all back. Jordan Terrio who missed the 2018 season is healthy and looks great. OUA All Rookie performer Kiondre Smith isn’t just an All Star returner, he looks like he has All Star ability as a receiver.

Transferee Abdraman Abdel-Rahim [Calgary Dinos/Vanier Cheetahs] is too good not to see some playing time immediately. Plus, he has the advantage of knowing Coach Sheahan’s offense having already played for him at UofC. Another *surprise player* is NCAA tranfer  Clark Barnes. A Brampton native Barnes played at Clarkson/Football North before enrolling at the University of Maine back in January. He was also a star with Matt Nesbitt’s OFC JV champion Junior Gryphons team a few years back.

From the Black Bears football website …

Clark Barnes | WR | 6-2 | 200 | Brampton, Ontario/Clarkson Secondary

    • Ranked as the No. 5 Canadian player of the 2019 class … a Top Prospect Canada Most Valuable Player … Named to Team Ontario … Guided Clarkson Secondary to the No. 1 team ranking in Canada … team played a full, American schedule and earned victories over State Champion Cathedral Prep and Cheshire Academy.
    • Other offers: Liberty, Stony Brook
    • “Clark is a long and powerful outside receiver, with strong route running ability and elite ball skills. He’ll be a valuable member of ‘Top Flight’ and will get his first opportunity this spring to compete with our football team.” – Coach Charlton

♦ You can’t look at the receiver group without noticing their size. Of two dozen receivers only AJ Chase and speedster Jayden Kelly are under 6 feet. [5’9″ Harry Robinson is listed as a receiver but was working with the running backs.] Schaffer-Baker, Abdel-Rahim, Jack Tocher, Mackenzie Ginther, Noah Holder, Evan Horne, Matt MacGillivray, W-P Dimbongi and Nicholas Mirijello are all 6’3″ or taller. Five of those 7 guys are new to the team this year. That tells me pretty clearly what Coach Sheahan is looking for with his Pro-style passing offense. And, it is very reminiscent of the receiving corps he recruited and coached at Queen’s.

♦ I was a little off the mark declaring that the QB room was near full yesterday. I realized before my previous post that recruit Mason McGriskin was not on the roster but forgot to go back and edit. I saw Andrew Horscroft throwing the ball with receivers prior to the start of practice but he was not in pads [injured non-throwing shoulder]. Recruit Colin Dacyshyn is listed as a QB on the roster but wasn’t in a red jersey. His HS highlights showed he was an athlete and playmaker who could probably play other positions. I meant to ask where he was at but forgot. There were 4 healthy quarterbacks throwing the passes in drills yesterday – Theo Landers, Brayden Lassenba, Dante Djan and Kaidan Gilbert.

♦ I didn’t spend as much time watching the O-Line and D-Line as in previous years, partly because we have a lot of talent at those positions. A few things I did notice:

1) there were only 13 OLs, the fewest I remember in any recent season. We have a solid group of veterans [Starczala, Petrie, Lapointe, Woodmansey] but some newbies are going to have to step up in order to have the depth that is necessary. Matt Fumawera looks like one of those guys. Possibly Spencer Masterson as well.

2) DTs Justin Jelacic and Afram Jolak were not in pads. They are the only thing between Greg Corfield and Jeremy Kapalanski, and putting freshmen in the defensive tackle rotation. Of course, Alain Cimankinda is flexible enough to help on the inside as well.

3) Highly touted DE recruit Yusuf Al-Khaldi was hard to pick out from the group, in a good way – i.e. he doesn’t look like a skinny high school kid. It is one thing for people to talk about him as a future All Canadian, it’s another thing to be physically ready to play at that level. He’s further along that path than I expected.

Links:

https://www.gryphonfootball.com/theo-landers-camp-2019

Coach KariKari.jpg

DBs Coach Richard KariKari

 

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Some thoughts early in training camp

I haven’t attended a TC2019 practice yet, but as usual that is not going to stop me from saying a few things.

♦ This is the first training camp for a head coach Ryan Sheahan and his new staff. It’s Sheahan’s first head coaching position. That doesn’t worry me. Five years ago when he made the move from Queen’s to OC at Calgary, he hit the ground running and produced a record-setting offense in his first season. He clearly inherited a lot of talent with the Dinos. In Guelph he takes over a team that has underachieved the past few seasons but is among the most talented in the OUA.

♦ What we’ve seen thus far from Sheahan makes me think he will produce in Year 1. He built a strong, experienced coaching staff. His coordinators – OC Mark Surya, DC Dennis McPhee and STC Donnavan Carter – might be the best group in the OUA. Sheahan and his staff worked hard well into June to build an excellent recruiting class. One better than I expected given his late start.

♦ Since Stu Lang took over in the 2010, Guelph has been able to pride itself on a very high level of commitment to the S&C program, off-season practices and particularly high participation in Summer captains’ practices. Attendance at summer workouts and practices reached an all-time high this year. That reflects tremendous buy-in to Sheahan’s approach from the players. Dozens of players from Eastern Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC have stayed in Guelph year round.

♦ The 10-day training camp imposed by the OUA is ridiculously short. It will be very hard for freshmen to adjust to college football with only 3 or 4 days before roster decisions have to be made and practice time shifts to game prep for the season opener against McMaster on August 25.

♦ There is no question in my mind about who the #1 QB will be. It’ll be veteran quarterback Theo Landers. This will be the first time since Justin Dunk in 2009 that the Gryphons will be led by a 5th-year QB. Landers is 8-3 in regular season starts and has a 2-1 playoff record. Landers is a dual-threat QB who has been most effective when he both runs and passes. He has never looked his best when the game plan has been to keep him in the pocket.

TC'19 QBs

QBs Dante Djan #1 and Theo Landers #17

♦ On several occasions in recent years I’ve lamented the lack of depth at the QB position. It has often appeared that the guiding principle of our offensive play calling has been not to get the #1 quarterback hurt. At the same time, our backup QBs have received virtually no playing time. 2019 looks different from other years in that most of the chairs in the QB meeting room should be full. I expect 3 returning QBs [Landers, Brayden Lassemba, Andrew Horscroft] and there are another 4 QBs in the recruiting class – Mason McGriskin, Kaidan Gilbert, Colin Dacyshyn,  and Laval-transfer Dante Djan. That would be a huge number but several have potential to play other positions. I know that some were recruited with the knowledge that a position change was a possibility.

Other important position battles? I’d say the Will linebacker position previously occupied by All Canadian Luke Korol is one to watch. Then maybe the receiver positions. And don’t forget a new kicker/punter will also have to be found.

Nicest surprise in the first two days of TC2019? Probably seeing that 2017 OUA All Rookie Sam LB Kosi Onyeka is back with the team after missing the 2018 season. Close after that would be the surprise of seeing that highly-rated CEGEP RB Jeremie-Grace Kankolongo is on the Gryphon roster. Kankolongo was the BC High School Player of the Year in 2016, then spent two years at Champlain-Lennoxville.

♦ There are just over 100 players on the roster. By my count there are 20 players in their 4th and 5th years of eligibility. I believe that would make this the most veteran team since the 2015 Yates Cup season.

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My timeline for the 2019 Recruiting Class

With the 2018 recruiting class for the Gryphons having been the best in recent memory, I really hoped we could come close to doing that again. But, that class had been built under HC Kevin MacNeill with obvious help from Recruiting Coordinator Todd Galloway, and J-F Joncas opening the doors into Quebec’s CEGEPs.

With Galloway stepping into the interim-HC role for the 2019 season, we no longer had a full-time recruiting coordinator. Then, immediately after the season, J-F announced he was returning to Champlain-Lennoxville. When Guelph went into the Christmas break without a head coach and only six recruits, it was reasonable to lower one’s expectations for this recruiting class.

Ryan Sheahan was announced as the new Gryphon Football head coach on January 10. When I shared my thoughts on Sheahan’s hiring I concluded with,

  • Recruiting has to be an immediate priority … there is lots of work still to be done. With a few months of recruiting remaining there is opportunity for Sheahan to have an impact.

Five of the 6 early recruits remained committed to the Gryphons through the uncertainty of November and December. Three of those enrolled in January. The one recruit who did decommit announced he was returning to high school for a 12B year.

Recruiting momentum was still slow to build with only 3 or 4 commitments in January. I’m sure that was due in part to the time it took for Coach Sheahan to assemble and announce his coaching staff.

Jumping ahead to late May, Gryphon Football introduced a solid class of 29 recruits.

Here are some excerpts from the announcements and stories –

The Gryphon Football website has a Rob Massey story – Freshman Day 2019

Head coach Ryan Sheahan is proud of the first recruiting class …

“I think it’s gone really well. We’ve made significant additions to the offensive and defensive lines and we’ve brought in a handful of good receivers. They’re talented. We’ve brought in some new quarterbacks and if you take a look across the field here, there’s some good size. We continue to make a dent in the CEGEP system and attract some very good athletes to pursue their academic endeavours outside of the province of Quebec.”

Gryphons.ca – Gryphon Football officially welcomes 2019 recruiting class

“We have some excellent additions, on both sides of the line of scrimmage,” said Gryphons head coach Ryan Sheahan. “A huge amount of credit needs to go to our coaching staff who helped us navigate this transition. We feel as though we have a nice combination of some eager and able young players coming in. Defensive lineman Josh Campbell was the CEGEP Lineman of the Year, Harrison Bagayogo is a talented, physical defensive back from Champlain-Lennoxville and we also have a pair of incoming rookies (receiver Spencer Kennedy and linebacker Kristian Stewart) from the No. 1-ranked high school football program in Canada (St. Thomas More – Hamilton). “

The Gryphons would go on to add another recruit from that #1-ranked STM team in June.

The CFC100-ranked Al-Khaldi had been committed to Carleton for 3 months before decommitting and signing with Guelph 2 weeks later.

Does that sound familiar?

Back on June 5, I wrote …

Kaine Stevenson becomes the second CFC Top100 ranked player to join the Gryphons recently. The other one being offensive lineman Matteo Kucinic [6’3″ 290 C/RT] out of Football North/Clarkson Secondary. Interestingly, both had previously committed elsewhere before switching to Guelph. (Emphasis added)

Stevenson originally signed an LOI with UBC 3 months ago. Kucinic committed and signed with Laurier back in January.

See the pattern?

The story in a nutshell: Guelph brings in a high-profile, young coach. He puts together a talented coaching staff. In a short period of time they build a solid recruiting class. Top prospects take notice and decide Guelph is where they want to be as well.

And it didn’t end there. Several talented players are transferring to Guelph from other U Sport schools including WR Abdraman Abdel-Rahim [Calgary], QB/WR Aidan McKeown [St Mary’s] and QB/TE Dante Djan [Laval]. All three are eligible to play in 2019.

So, what looked like a worrisomely small recruiting class at Christmas, grew into a solid, above-average OUA recruiting class by May and now has grown to 34 members, and  borders on elite. I think that is an excellent outcome under the circumstances and bodes very well for the future of the Sheahan era.

RECRUITS BY THE NUMBERS

BY POSITION

5 Quarterbacks, 3 of whom could play other positions

1 Running Back

7 Receivers

6 Offensive Linemen

4 Defensive Linemen

7 Linebackers

2 Defensive Backs

1 Kicker/Punter

BY GEOGRAPHY

6 products of Quebec’s CEGEP system [2 Ont natives]

1 Montreal native who played at an Ontario prep school

2 Calgary natives

1 American recruit

1 BCFC player returning to Ontario

 

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Gryphons quick to replace departed DB coach

It was a little bit of a surprise to see that DB coach Mark Forsyth was part of the new Western Mustangs coaching staff announced last month. The veteran Forsyth, who came to Guelph after almost 30 years at McMaster, had coached Gryphon defensive backs since Spring 2017.

Forsyth joins former Gryphon coaches Kevin MacNeill (DL coach, Special Teams Coordinator & Recruiting Coordinator) and Adam Grandy (LB coach) on the Mustangs defensive staff and is reunited with Greg Marshall whom he worked with when Marshall was head coach at Mac.

Losing a top-notch coach like Forsyth late in the process could be problem. But with Donnavan Carter (Special Teams Coordinator) already on the staff I wasn’t too worried. Carter coached Gryphon DBs in 2016.

However, Coach Sheahan and DC McPhee went outside the current staff and hired former CFL defensive back Richard Karikari to replace Forsyth. KariKari was on the UofT staff last year along with Carter and OC Surya.

Karikari was a standout at StFX earning CIS All Canadian honours and a nomination for the Hec Crighton Trophy in 2002. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2003 CFL Draft by the Montreal Alouettes. He was a 2005 CFL All Star. Karikari played in 4 Grey Cups during his 6 year CFL career, 3 appearances with the Alouettes and a GC victory with the Calgary Stampeders in 2008.

Richard Karikari #1 led the Alouettes with 9 interceptions, second in the CFL, in 2005

Richard Karikari is a busy man. He has owned and operated the Pickering Dolphins OPFL franchise since 2014 and he is currently the owner and founding director of Complete Sports Performance (CSP).

I like the fact that Karikari seems to fit the model that Coach Sheahan has used with most his hires – i.e. he combines excellent football knowledge and experience with the potential to be a large contributor to Gryphon recruiting.

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Quick news hits – July 18/2019

♦ Royce Metchie making his 5th straight start for the CFL Stampeders

royce-metchie_stampsI noticed Metchie was the starting Safety for Calgary last week versus the Tiger-Cats. A quick check of the Stamps depth charts shows he has started every game this season including tonight’s game against the Argonauts.

There is one other Gryphon starter in the game and that’s veteran OL Ryan Bomben. I’m not going to try to figure out how many games the 10-year CFL vet has started. I’m sure it is 100+.

♦ Kickers are people too

♦ Annual FOGF Golf Tournament almost sold out

Next Friday 144 Gryphon alumni, coaches and supporters of the program are going to tee off in the annual Friends of Gryphon Football Golf Tournament. I feel pretty confident saying that since there were only 6 spaces left 24 hours ago. It sounds like tournament organizer George Bortolato has done a bang-up job securing sponsors, prizes and giveaways.

♦ Top “recruit” says Yes to Coach Sheahan

A huge congratulations goes out to our Head Coach, Ryan Sheahan, who got engaged last month to Jillian Farrow. Ryan popped the question on Jillian’s dock in Bobcaygeon, her favourite place in the world. She said YES! Congratulations Coach and Jillian! We wish you a lifetime of happiness.

♦ Sheahan hires new S&C Coach

Former U Sport and CFL defensive end Adam Kania is the football program’s new Strength & Conditioning Coach. The Burlington native replaces Shea Pierre. Since his football career ended, Kania has acquired more than a decade of experience in fitness and personal training. He is in charge of the Gryphons off-season training program.

 

UPDATE: I meant to mention that the Gryphons have a record number of players staying in Guelph this summer. That is a real positive. Even more important, among them are returning CFL draft picks Eric Starczala and Job Reinhart. That is a real bonus. They bring not only talent and experience at OL and LB but veteran leadership.

//

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CFL Riders add Gryphon to practice roster

If you have read the comments on this blog recently, you’ll know I predicted this would happen,

… Gabe is a free agent after being released by the Stamps.
I expect he will get a shot with another team before too long.

Less than 3 weeks later the Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed Ferraro to their practice roster.

You can read more in 3DownNation‘s story …

Riders sign USports record holder, Canadian kicker Gabriel Ferraro

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