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
5 Quarterbacks, 3 of whom could play other positions
1 Running Back
6 Offensive Linemen
4 Defensive Linemen
2 Defensive Backs
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