It’s now two weeks since the first defensive back recruits in Guelph’s 2015 class were announced. The defensive backfield is not an area of immediate need but you always have to be looking ahead. I’ve said previously I don’t expect a large number of DBs in this recruiting class but you don’t turn down quality student-athletes even if there isn’t an immediate opening. For the first time in several years we will enter 2015 with multiple 4th and 5th year players in the defensive backfield, so turnover there is coming. Better to have a year to develop players within the program than to have to throw freshmen out onto the field immediately. In the NCAA you can usually tell how talented a team’s roster is by the number of players they are able to redshirt. The weaker the program the more freshmen that play.
The first addition was Akeem Knowles from Brampton St Roch CSS. He is a quick and athletic two-way player who will play DB at Guelph. Knowles has also played two years of OVFL football with the Brampton Bulldogs. Knowles’ St Roch Ravens were a perfect 7-0 in the ROPSSAA regular season but were eliminated by eventual champion Lorne Park in the Tier 1 semi-final. Knowles was both a team captain and the Ravens 2014 Defensive Player of the Year. He had 3 interceptions, numerous pass breakups, forced several fumbles and appears to be a good tackler. The 5’10” 175-pound Knowles time as a receiver has given him good ball skills and he has the versatility that could allow him to play half or corner. He also has excellent speed [4.6 sec 40] which helped him to excel as a kick returner.
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The Gryphons also received a commitment from a second DB, and the sixth Niagara player in this recruiting class, Simon DiMaria of Denis Morris CHS in St Catharines. DiMaria is the one Niagara recruit I’ve never seen play so I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out his video highlights. What I really like though are some of his numbers. At 6’1″ and 208 pounds he has great size for a safety or a Sam LB. DiMaria runs a 4.8 second 40 and has a 30″ vertical jump. Because he tested well DiMaria opened the eyes of a many OUA coaches at the OUA’s Top Recruit Combine Series event in Niagara Falls back in December. He garnered lots of recruiting attention after that. DiMaria’s DM Redmen team plays in Niagara’s AAA/AAAA league so he has faced good competition. BTW the idea that he could be a potential Sam LB is my own observation and not something I’ve heard from any coaches.