I learned something new this week. I’d known for a while that Coach Lang and his staff preferred to limit the size of the roster and the number of players at training camp to a managable size. Ninety seemed to be the ideal number I heard bandied about. One hundred the absolute maximum. How do you achieve this when “walk-ons” – ie unrecruited players – from time to time become major contributors to college teams everywhere. I like this coaching staff’s solution – limit training camp to invitees only, but hold open tryouts for potential “walk-on” players to earn an invitation.
Blake McNeely, a 6’5″ 195lb LB/DE from Waterloo St David’s, may be the first player to so impress Gryphon coaches that he earned an invite to the Guelph training camp. McNeely began his high school career at Mt Douglas High in Victoria, BC. Mt Douglas is the only AAA-level team on Vancouver Island and has become a program that constantly competes for BC championships. McNeely moved to Waterloo in 2009 and played his Grade 11 & 12 seasons with the St David’s Celtics. In 2010 McNeely was a first team Waterloo Region Allstar selection. McNeely is playing for the Twin City Predators in the OFC this summer.
Another player who attended the February open tryout, even though he was already being recruited by the Gryphons, was Stephen Gauntlett. Gauntlett, a 5’8″ 170lb tailback, was the star player at Oakville St Thomas Aquinas. The Aquinas Raiders reached the semifinals in Halton Tier 2 with Gauntlett leading the way with 9 TDs. Gauntlett, who runs a 4.6 sec 40, is shifty and quick. His coaches will tell you not to underestimate this little dynamo as he is a fiend in the weight room and much stronger than you might think. Gauntlett also played basketball and rugby at Aquinas. This summer Gauntlett will be playing with the Burlington Stampeders.