Early August thoughts & news – Aug 7/14

When I heard that 4th year offensive lineman Matt Nesbitt was having a successful season as the head coach of the Guelph Junior Gryphons JV team, I thought that would make a good story. Problem was I don’t have enough time to write things I’m already committed to, like recruit profiles and training camp/season previews. So I’m very pleased to have found someone else to write it – Grace Lokole. Look for his story on Nesbitt to be posted in the next 24 hours.

Grace Lokole

Grace Lokole

Lokole is a Guelph student finishing up a degree in Political Science. He played Varsity Basketball in his first year at Guelph. He also grew up playing football in Dallas, TX and Welland, ON. Lokole has had 26 articles published on-line covering both football and basketball. As I recall, one of them was the 2013 football season preview of the Guelph Gryphons for SportsEh!. I hope that his story on Matt Nesbitt is just the first of many he will write for the Gryphons Football Blog.

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Curtis Newton

Curtis Newton

I had an informative conversation with S&C Coach Jordan Foley a couple weeks back. I’m very encouraged by what I learned. According to Foley, “no one who has come consistently hasn’t shown significant improvement”. Among the most consistent and frequent attendees – LB Curtis Newton, OL Zach Bader-Shamai, OL Matt Toppan and DE Cam Walker.

In a separate conversation OL Coach Mike MacDonald confirmed Bader and Toppan “looked great”. Overall, he sees Foley being a big help in the development of Gryphon offensive linemen, adding something along the lines of … I wish we had Jordan here a year earlier.

Several 2014 recruits are already actively following Foley’s programs even if they aren’t able to train four days a week in the Alumni Stadium Performance Centre. Recruits from as far away as North Bay and Kingston had been to Guelph in the previous few weeks for  testing and teaching. In some cases Foley is communicating with trainers in other cities to stay on top of what is being done.

Another name it was encouraging to hear was that of Colin Booth. Two years into his university career Booth has made a name for himself with his scout team efforts and performance in Winter Camp and this spring’s scrimmages. The undersized receiver was a big-time performer in the Sault so it would be great to think that he has added the weight and strength necessary to play at the OUA level. Foley told me Booth has made big gains in part because he is meticulous at following instructions. He doesn’t cut corners. He remembers all the details. Hopefully that leads to a breakout seasons for the receiver.

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 Jeff Finley was eligible to come off the Alouette’s 6-Game Injured List on August 2. I’ve seen or heard nothing about a change in his roster status. Funny thing, the CFL Transaction Wire hasn’t reported a single transaction for any of the league’s nine teams since August 1. Usually there are almost daily updates. I’m still inclined to believe the Als will not be releasing him to return to Guelph for his final season though I admit my thoughts on the issue have shifted back and forth. If Finley had been drafted in the later rounds his chances of coming back would be greater. The good news is that Guelph is still deep in D-Line talent.

Hunter Bowman takes on two

Hunter Bowman takes on two blockers

In addition to the previously announced commitment from UW transfer DT Djordje Gavrilovic, the Gryphons are also welcoming back 6’7″ 310-pound Nose Tackle Hunter Bowman. Bowman was one of the early recruits in the heralded 2011 recruiting class and he saw action in almost every game his freshman season. Bowman did not play in 2012 or 2013 for a non-football-related medical reason. He was cleared by his doctor and approached coaches back in the spring about re-joining the team. DC MacNeill and DL Coach Cluff are excited to have him back. While he has been out of football since Spring Camp 2012 he is still in excellent condition.

Another recent addition is 6’5″ 238-pound DE/TE Jason South. A native of the Sarnia-Lambton area, South is a graduate of Lambton Central CI and Fanshawe College. South played for the London Beefeaters in 2011 and 2012. He was on the Beefeaters squad that captured the OFC title and advanced to face the Saskatchewan Hilltops in the 2012 CJFL semi-final. South credits the coaching of former Gryphon D-Line coach Dennis McPhee [now of the CFL Ticats] with helping him take his game to the next level. South is looking forward to earning some playing time on a talented d-line where he won’t face double teams every play.

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The Cambridge Lions were eliminated last night in an OVFL Conference Final by the Essex Ravens but here are some thoughts from the week before that I hadn’t yet shared …

While I’ll always be a Niagara Spears fan there was no denying that James Roberts came on strong when it counted to lead his Cambridge Lions to a come-from-behind OVFL playoff win over my team. Roberts looked sharp right out of the gate completing his first two passes for 12 & 15 yards but both were negated by penalties. Cambridge struggled for much of the next 3 quarters. But when it counted Roberts led the Lions on three touchdown drives, including a 79-yard drive with his team down by 5 and just 1:20 left in the game. He only ran the ball 3 times but he made a couple of key runs on the final drive, including a 4-yd TD run. On the previous drive he caught a pass for a large gain.

Eric Denis

Eric Denis

OT recruit Eric Starczala had another solid game for the Lions as did OG Eric Denis of the Spears. Denis, who redshirted as a freshman at Guelph in 2013, is a slimmed down and faster, more athletic player than he was last year. He was 290 last summer if I’m not mistaken, and is playing at 260 this summer. An injury at the end of last season limited his training from November to April. A skilled and experienced 260-pound OL can be dominant in the OVFL but in my opinion he’ll need to get back up to the 280 range to be a factor at the OUA level. I think Jordan Foley will be able to help him in that department when he gets back on campus.



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