Things are right on track

I was on the Guelph campus for a meeting earlier this week. Without a doubt great things are happening in Gryphon football. I can’t wait for the 3rd annual Gryphon Football Gala on Saturday, May 11. That was the focus of the recent meeting. It was great to hear that CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon has been confirmed as the speaker. And the event has been moved from the Cutten Fields Country Club to the Delta Hotel. It will be the biggest Gala to date. Proceeds from the event will go towards scholarships and recruiting expenses. Look for more details and a link to purchase tickets in the near future.

The Friends of Gryphon Football made, what I consider, some other very positive “big picture” decisions for the future of Gryphon football. I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of the program’s “old-timers” after the meeting. Robbie Keith ’59 and John Wright ’61 are great sources of information about the OAC-OVC days. I think I almost have them convinced to share some of their stories on the blog.

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Team O SelectsAnother person I had a chance to speak with this week was the head coach of the Team Ontario Selects U-17 squad that beat Team USA last week in Austin, TX. He also happens to be Guelph’s recruiting coordinator – Bill Brown. Coach Brown was only one of seven Gryphon coaches who made the trip to Texas. Two worked with the U-17 team and three with the U19 team. Two more were there for recruiting purposes. I’ll have more to say about this Texas trip as soon as I have time.

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There are definitely good things happening on the recruiting front. I had already heard through my own contacts of some very positive recruiting developments. Coach Brown confirmed that, saying “Recruiting is going great”. Things are right on pace with what the recruiting staff had planned.

I wrote back in December that Guelph would be looking to bring in a smaller class. The boatload of talent in the Gryphons’ freshman and sophomore classes means the needs are not as dire and allows coaches to be more selective. We don’t need forty recruits, two dozen will be quite fine. I remember hearing in an NCAA DI context that the ideal recruiting class was 23. One recruit at every position plus a specialist. The Gryphons are closer to being in that position than in a long time.

And the plan for communicating announcements this year is definitely different than in recent years. Look for a very talented recruiting class to be officially introduced this spring. I assume that this will happen around the time of spring camp with another Meet the Team event. Watch the video of last year’s event. Another possiblility would be to time the event with one of several Hamilton Tiger-Cat media opportunities this spring. That makes sense to me. If you have Canada’s national football media on-campus to cover the Ticats why not use that to get maximum national exposure for the 2013 recruiting class.

According to Brown commitments weren’t just starting to flow in, they were coming at the right positions. Guelph’s major losses this year were on the defensive side of the ball. So DB [3 starters lost] and LB [2 starters lost] are top priorities. The other position mentioned as a priority when Coach Lang spoke to the Guelph Mercury was running back.

Things are better on the offensive side of the ball. While Rob Farquharson was third in the league in rushing, coming up 60 yards short of a 1,000-yard regular season, the Gryphs are looking to give him a running mate.

“On the offensive side, we’re pretty good, but we’re looking for another running back,” Lang said.

Personally, I am looking, and hoping, for the Gryphons to sign a couple of elite running backs. While tailback is the position that most people focus on, Todd Galloway’s offense can make use of running backs, with speed and the right skills, both at the H-back position and the inside receiver positions. That is, the X & Y receiver positions – see this earlier post. Keith Walker and, hopefully, Mike Ullerick are examples of former star high school running backs who will make big contributions at one of these positions.

The past two seasons our primary H-backs [Kevin Campbell in 2011 & Micheal Fortino in 2012] have been converted receivers. But back in 2011, Galloway told me it is his preference to convert a running back for this position rather than a receiver. While I hope that the Gryphon TBs pick up 1,000+ yards in 2013, I would like to see more diversity in the rushing game. Campbell picked up some very effective rushing yards in 2011. And this offense needs to get more rushing yards out of its receiving corps whether it be from jet sweeps, reverses or other means.

From my perspective, Guelph needs to sign a couple of true multi-purpose backs – speedsters with power plus blocking and receiving skills. Certainly, with a young O-line and an outstanding OL coach that have already proven that they will be a force in the future, the Gryphons are in a very good position. Everyone in the OUA and CIS wants to land a blue chip RB but very few can offer them the certainty that they will have “the horses up front” to do their job to the maximum of their ability. Several of our OUA opponents have graduated their top OLs while others are loaded with 4th & 5th year players leaving big question marks for the future. Throw in a dynamic offense and an outstanding young QB in Jazz Lindsey and I think a couple of top prospects will agree this is the right situation for them.

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3 Responses to Things are right on track

  1. cflsteve says:

    Would have loved to see The Hamilton TI Cats step up and host the Vanier Cup in Guelph

  2. Ed says:

    Hello Peter: Just a little disappointed that Coach Lang hasn’t really given a shot to the other RB’s they recruited and by your comments you seem to agree. To say publicly that they need another running back is a little demoralizing to the one’s already in camp that have not had a chance to play in a game situation. I suppose that is the way college football goes. These kids bust their asses off, have to pay for their own way into the stadium if they don’t dress which is absolutely ludicrous, don’t go to the team dinner unless they are starters … Just my thoughts

  3. Ed, I don’t think we do agree. From their running back group Guelph loses at least 3 players who dressed in 2012 at H-back or fullback. Our top two tailbacks are entering their 4th and 5th years. I’m not even certain whether Cory Davidson will return for a 5th year. I don’t see how you can avoid signing several RBs. We don’t have as many RBs on the roster as many OUA teams.

    Going forward I see Guelph recruiting more RBs with speed and fewer fullbacks. There will always be a place for some fullbacks just not as many as in the past. Running backs will also compete at more positions than just tailback. Ideally, we will see a running back playing the H-back spot – Mike Ullerick could fit that mould, as could Ray Bahr. Another back who made a positive impression as a freshman was Ryan Nieuwesteeg. If he doesn’t soon get time at TB he could be a natural at one of the slot positions. If I am correct in my understanding of the O then Guelph may carry more former HS RBs and fewer receivers on their roster in the future. Keith Walker and Mackenzie Morrsion are examples of star high school RBs who were recruited as slot receivers right off the bat.

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