Breakdown of the 2020 recruiting class

new recruit

Our new coaching staff is putting together a dynamite recruiting class. People are already asking me if I think it is Guelph’s “best ever”. My answer has been, it’s close too it and they are not even done. I do think this class is already 80% complete.

Up until this point, I thought the Gryphon’s best class in memory was the final recruiting class put together in 2018 under former head coach Kevin MacNeill. That year Todd Galloway was the recruiting coordinator and OC J-F Joncas helped the Gryphons breakthrough with recruits in Quebec.

Last year’s class was very good considering Coach Sheahan and his staff got off to a late start. Then, if got even better with late additions like Kaine Stevenson, Yusuf Al-Khaldi and Abdraman Abdel-Rahim. Not to mention, the last-second addition in early August of NCAA-transfer Clarke Barnes. At that point it rivaled the 2018 class and was one of the top 2 or 3 in the OUA.

To date, I have the 2020 class with 25 members. Check out my full list here.

Breaking it down by position

Quarterbacks  3
Running Backs   3
Fullback/H-Back   1
Receivers   1
Off Linemen 6

Def Linemen 3
Linebackers 5
Def Backs 2

Specialists 1

I really debated where to slot in recent signee Cordell Holder. Most everywhere I see him referred to as linebacker but when I watch his most recent highlights I see a guy who looks/plays more like a defensive end. I’ve left him as an LB and we’ll have to see how he ends up being used in Dennis McPhee’s defense.

Breakdown by Region/Hometown

Guelph/Cambridge 3
Hamilton 6
Halton 6
Niagara 2
Toronto 2
Other Ontario 2
British Col 1
Alberta 1
Manitoba 1
USA 1

The 4 out-of-province recruits are interesting. Two come from the BCFC junior league. One of them played his high school football in Tennessee [Conor Richards] and the other in Manitoba [Cordell Holder]. The player from BC [Jeremie Kankolongo] played the past few years in Quebec at Cegep Champlain-Lennoxville. Kankolongo was the BC High School player of the year in 2016. The Alberta signee [Kole Watson] hails from one of the top programs in that province, Salisbury Composite HS near Edmonton. He is a Top100 rated player in Canada.

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Wildman Awards Dinner – Jan 2020

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The 2020 edition of the Wildman Dinner took place Saturday night in Guelph. The Wildman, as it’s known, is Gryphon Football’s annual awards banquet and the program’s opportunity to honour it’s graduating players.

Creelman Hall.jpg

This year’s edition of the event was back on-campus at Creelman Hall for the third year in a row, after being held off-campus for more than a decade. The historic building brings a wonderful connection to the history of the program. It was the site of many Wildman Dinners in earlier decades.

As always, the highlight of the evening is the awarding of the Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy. Awarded since 1932, the Wildman Trophy goes to the senior or graduating player who has “exemplified to the highest degree the traits of sportmanship, leadership, gentlemanly conduct and who has maintained good scholarship”.

And the 2019 Ted Wildman Trophy winner is …

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5th year linebacker Job Reinhart wins the Ted Wildman Memorial trophy and the Donald Forster trophy (Team MVP)   Photo: Kha Vo

Congratulations to Job Reinhart!

The 5th-yr linebacker and long snapper had an excellent season and an outstanding career.  His highlights included …

  • multi-year team captain
  • virtually perfect as a long snapper
  • 2nd on the team in tackles
  • played on offense in short yardage situations
  • 2019 CFL draft pick of the Calgary Stampeders
  • recorded an 84% average in the Fall semester
  • won multiple medals in U Sports wrestling
  • volunteer coach with Guelph youth wrestling and Jr Gryphons football
  • graduated with a Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture

Reinhart was welcomed into the Wildman fraternity by 8 previous winners of the Wildman Trophy. Former Wildman winners present for the evening included Dr Robby Keith (1959), Dr David Hume (1961), Dr Steve Stewart (1969), Dr Bill Morrison (1970), Dan Cornwell (1974), Sam Benincasa (1983), Dr Zack Androschuk (2012) and Lucas Korol (2018).

Click here for a complete list of the 87 Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy winners.

*     *     *

Here is the complete list of the 2019 award winners. 

Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy:  Job Reinhart
Donald Forster Trophy (MVP):  Job Reinhart
Tom Dimitroff Trophy (Def. Player of the Year):  Dotun Aketepe
Stu Lang Trophy (Off. Player of the Year):  Kade Belyk
Special Teams Player of the Year:  Clarke Barnes
Tom Mooney Lineman of the Year:   Alain Cimankinda
Rookie of the Year:  Justin Lauzon
Kyle Walters Trophy:  Coulter Woodmansey
Richard P. Kohler Perseverance Award:  Greg Corfield
Support Staff Award:  Taylor Floris
Pflug Family Community Service Award:  Alex Jafs
Jeff Hale HS Coach of the Year:  Claudio Silvestri (St Thomas More, Hamilton)

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Trophy winners (l-r) – Clarke Barnes, Alex Jafs , Justin Lauzon, Dotun Aketepe, Job Reinhart, Alain Cimankinda, Kade Belyk, Coulter Woodmansey & Greg Corfield    Photo: Kha Vo

 

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Quick thoughts on 2020 schedule

2020 sched image

Week 1: Sun, Aug 30 – Guelph @ York – 1pm
Week 2: Sun, Sep 6 – Waterloo @ Guelph – 6pm
Week 3: Sat, Sep 12 – Laurier @ Guelph – 1pm
Week 4: Sat, Sep 19 – Guelph @ Western – 7pm
Week 5: Sat, Sep 26 – Toronto @ Guelph – 1pm
Week 6: Sat, Oct 3 – Guelph @ McMaster – 1pm
Week 7: Fri, Oct 9 – Guelph @ Ottawa – 7pm
Week 8: Sat, Oct 17 – Carleton @ Guelph – 1pm
Week 9: Bye Week

My first impression: I really like it!

Why?

In 2020, the Gryphons will face all of last year’s playoff participants, miss two non-playoff teams [Queen’s & Windsor], play Laurier again and have only one long road trip.

The Gryphons will have a Week 9 bye. This may, or may not, be an advantage. A bye week right before the playoffs would be excellent if you’re playing in a quarter-final game. But on the downside, if you’ve earned a first-round playoff bye, you end up with 20 days in between games.

When I look at the schedule I think it is likely that I will attend 7 of the 8 games. The exception would by the Friday night game in Ottawa, since the likelihood that I will take a day off work to drive to the Nation’s Capital is very low.

The two toughest games – Western & Mac – are on the road but I don’t think that is a big deal. The fact Western has a bye week before they host Guelph is more of a concern.

Go Gryphons!

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Former Gryphon wins CFL’s Tom Pate Award

Congratulations to Rob Maver (UofG’10) !

CALGARY — Stampeders punter, Rob Maver was named the 2019 recipient of the Tom Pate Memorial Award at the Shaw CFL Awards on Thursday night at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome.

Selected by the CFL Players’ Association, the award celebrates outstanding sportsmanship and is given to a player who has made significant contributions to his team and his community Association.

Presented annually since 1976, the winner of the Tom Pate Memorial Award is selected by the Canadian Football League Players’ Association in recognition of his sportsmanship and contributions to one’s team, community and the CFLPA.

Rob Maver wins Tom Pate Memorial Award

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Congrats to Ryan Bomben on CFL milestone

Ryan Bomnben (centre) with former Gryphon teamamtes Nick FitzGibbon, Tim Randall, David Harrison, Gord Fairity, Matt Rossetti & Grant MacDonald

 

There’s a story on former Grphon offensive lineman Ryan Bomben [2006-2009], by Frank Ziccarelli, in the Toronto Sun.

By his own admission, Ryan Bomben wasn’t aware of his milestone moment until it was announced to the crowd at BMO Field.

Admittedly, Bomben said he was unaware that he’d be playing in his 150th game in the CFL when the Argos and Roughiders hooked up last Friday night.

Bomben isn’t the type to seek the spotlight having played along the offensive line of scrimmage where players often go overlooked.

Once word spread of his career moment, players and ex-teammates quickly extended congratulations to Bomben.

“It’s been a long time,’’ said Bomben. “It’s something to be proud of. I want to keep that number going up.”

Bomben has played down the moment, but it is something to acknowledge and celebrate knowing not many players reach the 150-game mark.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he does not remember his first game as a pro.

“It’s been too long,’’ said Bomben, a product of the University of Guelph who joined the Als in 2010 after being drafted 31st overall.

In retrospect, many CFL draft pundits would now place Bomben at the top of that draft class.

Read the full story in the SUN – Veteran Bomben plays down milestone moment in reaching career 150th kickoff

Getty Images via TSN

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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

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DBs Coach Richard KariKari

 

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