It’s been two months since I wrote about the Top 5 questions heading into Spring Camp.
I’ve been thinking lots about the first question over the past few weeks. As a reminder the question was …
1. Who is back and who is not?
I wrote back in March … Spring camp will only partially answer this question at best. But, between Spring Camp, the CFL draft and training camps, injuries and some of the other attrition factors that act on a CIS roster, we now have a much better idea of who is back and who is not.
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The start of the CFL season did provide some answers. We learned that LB Curtis Newton won’t be back, but three other CFL draft picks – A’dre Fraser, Ryan Nieuwesteeg and Kyle Fraser-Audit – likely will be back for a 5th and final year. That’s 2 receivers and an O-lineman returning to the offense.
On the defensive side … I really felt badly for defensive tackle Donnie Egerter when he went undrafted. It had to hurt after performing so well at the regional combine and being promoted to the national evaluation camp. I know the disappointment that my son felt. I know Rob Farquharson had those same feelings 2 years ago.
But, as disappointed as I was for Egerter, as a fan, I’m even more excited to hear that he will be returning for a 5th year. I will have more to say about him closer to the season but I can tell you now I will be predicting a huge season for him. I saw significant growth from him late last season. He was a force in the Yates Cup playoffs and a real bright spot even in the Mitchell Bowl loss. I heard some very positive things about him prior to the draft from a CFL insider.
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Injuries are another issue.
The lower body injury that DB Orion Edwards suffered back in May during East-West Bowl Week practices was serious enough to require surgery. It looks like he will miss the 2016 season recovering from the surgery and then rehabbing the injury.
Back in November, receiver Jacob Scarfone suffered an injury during the Mitchell Bowl game. He did not participate in East-West Bowl in order to be sure he was 100%. Unfortunately, in spite of that caution, when he did begin participating in the team’s off-season workouts he suffered another, unrelated injury. Scarfone has had surgery and will likely miss the 2016 season. That is unfortunate as he was almost certainly going to be a top CFL prospect for the 2017 draft.
The good news is that DB Mikey Carney who missed the 2015 season after suffering an injury playing pickup basketball has been cleared to play in 2016. I talked to Carney during the scrimmage with York. If I recall correctly, at that point he had started running but wasn’t participating in contact drills. He should be 100% for August training camp but it isn’t certain if he will be ready to return to his position as a starter at the Field Corner position in Game 1. That could be critical, as it was Edwards who replaced Carney in that spot last season.
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As for some of the other attrition, former Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year Alec Reid won’t be back in 2016. Besides being a key contributor on the scout team for 3 years, Reid was always on the sidelines for games. The big QB-turned-TE could usually be seen standing close by OC Galloway where Reid helped signal in plays. Reid also won the team’s Unsung Hero award for 2014. Reid who came to Guelph in 2013 to study Physics is transferring to Ryerson to enter that school’s Sports Media program.
Two 2015 defensive line recruits – DT Sam Sedore & DE Byron Mackinnon – are also not coming back for reasons not known to me. Both players redshirted in 2015 but I expected them to compete to fill some of the vacancies along the D-Line this season. Mackinnon is playing Junior football with the Westshore Rebels of the BCFC, a team that is loaded with former CIS players.
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Just to review some highlights of what I wrote back in March about Question #1 …
With a veteran-laden team in 2015 we know that there will be lots of turnover. I think the numbers will rival what happened after the 2012 season. BUT … you never know for sure. There are lots of veterans who still have eligibility but with a degree in one hand and a Yates Cup ring on the other, many of them will be moving on … there are half a dozen or so who are still on the fence … Coach MacNeill is of the opinion that those potential 5th and 6th year guys have earned the right to take time to make their decisions about returning. He does not demand that they participate in the Winter and Spring camps.
Certainly, the potential for some 5th or 6th year guys to change their minds and return in 2016 is still there, but otherwise I think most of this is known, if not to the fans, by the coaching staff.
In fact, some of this off-season attrition helps us to understand why the recruiting class is as large as it is, and specifically position groups like receiver and defensive line. And why there are several transfers at those positions.
My goal is to take a more detailed look at the 2016 recruiting class on a position by position basis over the next week or two.