Training camp, roster & other thoughts

Football season is almost upon us. Seven days from now the Gryphons will have already completed their first day of training camp. Then  they will barely be four days away from  boarding a plane and heading for Saskatoon.

That time frame will be a challenge. Trying to select the 70 players who will travel to Saskatchewan to take on the Huskies with just four days for evaluation. Trying to give players, particularly freshmen, enough instruction and enough reps to perform and execute well. As challenging as that is, I still like the idea of playing exhibition games with out-of-conference foes. It is an excellent experience for the players and it can’t hurt with recruiting especially with the number of Guelph freshmen that have played in these games.

Def Coord Kevin MacNeill speaking to over 100 campers today at Varsity Field

Talk of training camp reminds me that the Gryphon Elite High School Football Camp got under way today. I’m impressed with the amount of elite talent that is attending based just on what I’ve seen on Facebook tonight. There are not just top local players but some talented prospects from Toronto to Hamilton/Niagara to London. The more that young players get to meet and work with our coaching staff and players, and see our facilities the better off this program will be. I mention players because there are a large number of Gryphon players, freshmen to veterans, helping out at this camp.

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Back in June Recruiting Coordinator Bill Brown told GF Blog readers that “Our total number for freshmen should be 40-45“. I’m now hearing that it will be at the low end of that range. It has been known since the spring that three of the early commits wouldn’t be enrolling this fall. A few prospects didn’t receive an Offer of Admission while one (or two) have opted to return to high school for a victory lap. There are a couple of new names which I will elaborate on very soon. 

One thing I can tell you with certainty is that year-to-year attrition in this program has dropped significantly. In the OUA overall, football programs, on average, have 40% turnover on their rosters each year. Kevin MacNeill told me some time in the past year that one of the coaches’ goals for the program was to reduce attrition. They wanted to do that by finding more dedicated and passionate prospects. Players who want to play football so badly that they won’t give up on their dream after spending a year (or two) on the scout team. Statistically it may take more data to verify this trend but this is a very good sign.

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Today I saw that the Athletic Department is offering Gryphon Wallpaper for desktops, iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, etc.. You can find the download links here. One new Gryphon fan has gone beyond that to display his support for the program. Carl Wilhelm, father of OL recruit Cam Wilhelm, has taken a Gryphon logo and had it turned into a decal for the back window of this truck. I have to admit I love it and will consider doing the same on my station wagon if I decide to keep it for the foreseeable future.

The Wilhelm family were just a few of the Gryphon people that I had a chance to meet at the OFC Varsity Championship game on Saturday night in Burlington. I met the Wilhelms completely by accident but before the game I went and introduced myself to Gryphon great Jeff Hale [OL ’78-’81]. Hale told me one thing I hadn’t heard before. He and his twin brother Steve, also a former Gryphon, had been high school teammates of OL Coach Mike MacDonald in Belleville. Hale was there as a member of the Huronia Stallions coaching staff. I also had several opportunities to talk with Gryphon coaches John Engel and Adam Grandy who were there for recruiting purposes. Just my opinion but Gryphon recruits Cam Wilhelm and DT Patrick Gerrie were the two best linemen playing in the game.

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