U Sports football is in the midst of the Christmas recruiting blackout. During this period, which runs from December 21 until January 3, U Sports teams cannot contact prospective student-athletes. Student athletes are however allowed to contact U Sports coaches.
Guelph headed into the blackout period with 15 announced commitments. You can review the list here. At this point in time Windsor leads all OUA teams with approximately 24 committed recruits, followed by Guelph and Western with 15.
One interesting trend … ten of the 15 recruits have come from two sources. Five are from London’s South Collegiate Lions and five are from Quebec CEGEP programs.
I have said previously that this recruiting class looks like it will be an excellent one.
This is going to be a very, very good recruiting class. Perhaps the best in years for the Gryphons.
The strength of the class so far is the linemen – 5 DLs and 3 OLs. There are multiple future starters and a couple of potential game-changers among that D-Line group.
As a group this recruiting class includes 8 recruits who have played for their provincial teams – 5 for Team Ontario, 2 with Team Quebec and 1 on Team Alberta. Four of those players also played for Team Canada in the International Bowl. Five members of the recruiting class have been ranked among the Top 100 high school prospects or Top 60 post-HS prospects [CEGEP, JuCo or prep school post-grads].
Both local recruits – Tavius Robinson and Brandon Ferigo – were D10 award winners in addition to being multi-year D10 All Stars.
The commitments to date by position:
OL – 3 [Roy, Lapointe, Adams]
QB – 1 [Martin]
RB – 1 [Morris]
WR/TE – 3 [Tocher, Johns, Charpentier*]
DL – 5 [Robinson, Proner, Wilson, K-Lamoureux, Woodmansey]
LB – 2 [Thompson, Ferigo]
DB – 0
P/K – 0
Without having any inside information on the topic, I think it is a good bet that this recruiting class will be smaller than last year’s class of 50 or 51. Something in the range of 38-42 would make sense to me since the Gryphons roster seems to hover just over 100 and the typical OUA roster averages 40% turnover from one year to the next.
What would be the composition of that class? Just my opinion but I think this class still needs several more OLs, another QB, 2 or 3 more at RBs and several more WR/TEs on offense. On the defensive side, I would like to see one or two more DLs, several LBs, a half dozen DBs, and at least 2 Punter/Kickers.
* I am projecting Phillip Charpentier [CNDF Quebec City] as a TE rather than a QB based on what I’ve read on Quebec recruiting boards. I think the former Team Quebec QB would be given the opportunity to compete as a quarterback if he wants to but observers of CEGEP football seem to think his switch to TE midway through the 2017 season will be permanent.
Areas of Need
I think heading into this recruiting season there were several areas of particular need. You only had to look at the roster to see where this team was going to lose key, veteran players. The running back position, the defensive backfield and the linebacking corps each lose multiple, long-term starters or major contributors.
I think running back is particularly critical with Johnny Augustine and Brandon Gordon graduating. I think this class needs to include at least 3 or 4 RB recruits. Hopefully with one or more of them capable of contributing immediately. Richard Morris of London South is the only RB signed to date.
The defensive backfield likely loses three starters, possibly four. On top of that there is always some other attrition . I hope that there are some players already there to step up and fill those starting roles but a half dozen quality recruits at minimum are necessary. A couple of them need to be able to push for dress roster positions to make that DB group competitive. No defensive backs have been signed yet.
The linebacking corps will lose 2 of 3 starters, and that is assuming that Luke Korol returns for a 5th year. We’ve had some solid LB recruits over the past few years – Jafs, Onyeka, Beeksma come to mind. But even if those players fill the openings in the starting lineup you need players to replace them on special teams, and others to populate the scout team. At this point two linebackers have been signed – D10 Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Ferigo and London South’s Tyler Thompson.
I almost didn’t mention what might be the most important recruiting need of all – a Punter/Kicker. I fully expect Gabriel Ferraro to be picked in the 2018 CFL draft. I think he has a good chance of making a CFL roster as a kicker. He is better than several FG kickers already in the league. Our P/K recruit last year quit the team before school started. It would be a huge risk to head into the 2018 season with only one freshman P/K on the roster.
In summary, as good as this class looks at this point, there are still some critical needs to be met IMO. I will be keeping my eye on the RB, DB, LB and P/K positions.
I think the strength of this class to date bodes well for the quality of the final product. Blue chip recruits want to play with other blue chip recruits. And to a large extent blue chip recruits head to programs where they know they have a chance to win championships.
So, in spite of 3-5 and 5-3 seasons, I think Guelph is headed to an elite recruiting class that will help put them back in the Yates Cup year after year. With a few more key pieces in this recruiting class the Gryphons will position themselves among the nation’s elite programs.