CFL Rookie camps underway

cfl logoRookie camps get underway across the Canadian Football League today. Four members of the 2013 Gryphons team will be participating in these camps. Two 2013 CFL draft picks – Jake Piotrowski [Montreal] and Cam Thorn [BC] – have been re-signed by those clubs and return to camp after All Star seasons with the Gryphons. Guelph’s lone 2014 draft pick, defensive lineman Jeff Finley, has signed with the Alouettes and will join teammate Piotrowski in the Als’ training camp at Bishop’s University today. The fourth Gryphon player is rising senior quarterback Jazz Lindsey who will spend 10 days in the Toronto Argonauts’ training camp as part of the CFL’s Quarterback Development program.

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I see that the Alouettes have signed six of their 2014 draft picks. Of the six only Finley received a 3-year contract. The other five all accepted two-year deals. From the Alouettes’ announcement:

“We feel good about our draft class and are excited to get started”, said Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp. “All six of these players have a shot at making our roster.”

Finley (6’3″, 260 lbs.) was part of a defensive line that ranked first in the CIS in rushing yards allowed and combined for over two thirds of the University of Guelph Gryphons’ sacks with 21.5 in 2013. In 2012, the St. Catharines, ON native started eight games in his second season with the Gryphons and recorded 23 tackles including five for losses. He also made his first playoff appearance in a 42-39 overtime semi-final victory over the Queen’s University Golden Gaels that same year.

A separate news article – Alouettes Reloaded there is some other news of relevance:

Some question marks do remain on offence however, especially surrounding the offensive line after guards Scott Flory and Andrew Woodruff both retired during the off-season and versatile tackle Michael Ola left to sign with the Miami Dolphins, but Popp insists it will be business as usual in the trenches this summer.

“We’ve got Bourke and Perrett playing the tackles. We’ve got LBJ at centre. We’ve got Ryan Bomben playing at right guard. These guys played all of last year … That starting five right there has played a lot of football, and the two who you might call replacements in Matte and Bomben have been starting a lot of games — Matte most of last year and Bomben for the last two years, so it’s not a rebuild. Our starting five are veteran players.”

It’s clearly no surprise that former Gryphon Ryan Bomben is expected to be a starter. There is certainly an opportunity in Montreal for Jake Piotrowski to earn a backup position.

Thorn @ BC Lions campThe situation is similar for Cam Thorn in BC where the Lions have lost several non-import OLs from last season. Veteran centre Angus Reid has retired. Rookie OG Matt Albright was picked up by the Ottawa RedBlacks in their entry draft. Another non-import backup OL from 2013 [Myddleton] no longer appears on the BC Lions’ roster heading into training camp. I think Thorn’s ability to long snap may make him more valuable and help him secure a position with the Lions. I recall the Lions had to add a long snapper to their practice roster early last season as insurance.

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From the Argos’ announcement about the signing of their 2014 draft picks :

The Toronto Argonauts would also like to welcome non-import QB Jazz Lyndsey, from the University of Guelph, who will be participating in this year’s Argos training camp.

Lindsey has played in 22 games (20 starts) for the University of Guelph Gryphons from 2011-13. For his CIS career, the Markham, Ontario native, who played for Markham District High School, has completed 342 of 605 pass attempts (57%) for 4,536 yards and 33 touchdowns, while also adding 101 rushing attempts for 528 yards and 6 touchdowns.

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Final thought: four more former Gryphon rookies in the CFL this season. Rookie, just in the sense of holding new coaching and management positions – Chris Rossetti, Argos Dir of Player Personnel, Kyle Walters, Bombers’ GM, Mike O’Shea Bombers’ HC and Pat Tracey, Bombers’ ST Coord.  Add those names to all the above, plus Stamps punter Rob Maver, free agent LS/LB Jake Reinhart and Equipment Mgr Tom Brice in Toronto and that is quite a contingent of Guelph grads.

This timeline gives you a simple overview of the very busy off-season Walters and O’Shea have had remaking the Blue Bombers –

Mike O’Shea’s pre-rookie camp press conference yesterday [11-minute Q&A with Winnipeg media] –

Update: Just yesterday my dad was speaking to long-time CFL player and coach Don Sutherin. I think they had last talked when we were in Canton, OH to watch Team Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships. Sutherin, a North Canton native, had come out to watch a Team Canada practice and see some of his former CFL players, Kyle Walters among them. My dad told Sutherin that Kyle Walters had given him some credit in his speech 3 weeks ago at the Gryphon Football Gala Dinner. A veteran of 32-year CFL seasons as a player and coach, Sutherin still follows the league closely from home in Ohio. He is absolutely certain that Winnipeg will see big improvements under the leadership of Walters and O’Shea and expressed admiration for the changes that he sees them making there.


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