♦ Yesterday I made it out to watch some of the Team Ontario Selects tryouts at Players Paradise in Stoney Creek. These were the tryouts for the Team O U18 & U17 squads that will compete in the International Bowl series in late January in Texas. Four Guelph coaches have positions on the two Football Ontario staffs – Mike MacDonald is an offensive assistant and Adam Grandy is a defensive assistant with the U18 squad, while Alex Derma is the offensive coordinator and Brian Cluff is a defensive assistant for the U17. There were four other Gryphon coaches and five players helping out. I saw Mike Aloisio and Steve Frake, plus players – John Rush, Dan MacDonald, Jordan Thompson, Blake McNeely and Djordje Gavrilovic. Of course, Bill Brown, who for years has coached Team Ontario squads in both the summertime Football Canada Cup tournament and the newer International Bowl series was also out on the field.
♦ In other coaching news, Football Canada announced this past week that Kevin MacNeill will return to the coaching staff of Junior National Team for the 2016 IFAF World Championships. MacNeill will be the teams Defensive Coordinator. He served as a defensive assistant with the 2014 team that played in Kuwait this past summer and won a silver medal. Congratulations Kevin!
♦ The International Bowl tryouts are completely separate from the OUA Top Recruit Football Combine Series which I posted about two weeks ago. The OUA series gets underway this week in Ottawa, Sudbury and Aurora. Guelph hosts the ninth and final event on December 20 in the Gryphon Fieldhouse. Any high school age athletes interested in participating can register here.
♦ Head Coach Stu Lang and Offensive Coordinator Todd Galloway spent the latter part of the week out in British Columbia doing some recruiting. The Subway Bowl series, BC’s Provincial high school championships, were played at BC Place on Saturday.
♦ Before Coach Lang left he and DC MacNeill were in St Thomas at Central Elgin Collegiate for the signing of important of 6’3″ 315 pound DT Jessy Kocins. Kocins, a former Team Ontario player and a member of 2014 National Junior U18 team, is the most recent of seven recruits to be signed in 2015 recruiting class. This article in the St Thomas Times-Journal reports on the signing ceremony. If I’m not mistaken Kocins is the first football recruit to come to Guelph from Central Elgin since Kyle Walters.
♦ The 2015 recruiting class is off to a good start in my opinion. Six of the seven recruits committed so far are linemen – three DLs, one OL and a couple of linemen who are prospects on both sides of the ball in my opinion. Quality depth along the line of scrimmage will be as important as anything in keeping the Gryphons a top tier OUA program. The other linemen signees are Eric Bierman [Jacob Hespeler], Sam Sidore [Lo-Ellen Park], Lukas Brennan [Sir Winston Churchill], Diego Pineda [GW Graham] and Spencer Swan [GCVI].
D-Line was the most important need for this recruiting class. Last year Guelph lost five DLs, several of them unexpectedly and only signed one DL recruit. The Gryphons were seriously shorthanded and lucky not to have suffered any significant injuries in 2014. CFL teams have been interested in DE Cam Walker for several years now so there is no guarantee he will be back. Transfer Djordje Gavrilovic was an important addition but he has exhausted his eligibility. Suffice it to say Guelph needed to recruit some serious talent. This is a very good start.
♦ The next most serious areas of need in my opinion are receiver and running back. The only non-linemen signee to date, Khaliel James, is a bit of both. He played for Team Canada as a running back and is the #36 rated prospect in Canada. James originally signed with the Gryphons last year and was going to be used as a slot back. James returned to high school for a fifth year in part, if I’m not mistaken, because of interest from NCAA programs. The other 2014 signee who elected to return to high school and has resigned with the Gryphons is Guelph native OT Swan. Swan is a little bigger [6’5″ 270] and more experienced than this time last year.