The 2017 Valero East-West Bowl is set to kick off tomorrow afternoon at Laval University, with 88 of the top prospects for next year’s CFL Draft looking to increase their value in the eyes of scouts and CFL management. Below is a breakdown of five players to keep an eye on from each side.
Hugo Richard, QB — Laval | Richard helped the Rouge et Or end a two-year Vanier Cup drought in 2016, going 25-of-32 for 339 yards, while also adding 62 yards on the ground in a five-point victory over the Calgary Dinos. The athletic six-foot-two, 220-pounder was named Vanier Cup MVP for his efforts. He’s been at the helm for Laval in each of the past three seasons, which includes a combined 21-3 regular season record and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year and All-Canadian nods in 2014.
Jordan Socholotiuk, RB — StFX | This season, Socholotiuk took over for five-year starter and last year’s conference MVP Ashton Dickson in the backfield. The five-foot-eight, 190-pounder didn’t disappoint, putting up over 1,000 yards rushing; averaging 132 yards per game. In the process, the Fort McMurray, Alta. native became just the third player in program history to reach the century mark and the first since 1997. Socholotiuk was honoured for his efforts with a conference all-star selection as well.
Jacob Czaja, OG — StFX | A big reason for Socholotiuk’s success was the strength of his offensive line, which was anchored by Czaja, a two-time AUS All-Star, as well as fourth year tackle Vernon Sainvil. The X-Men offence also led the conference in yards per game and were second in rushing yards per game.
Brandon Jennings, FS — Acadia | Jennings is a do-it-all athlete for the Axemen, who, along with his free safety duties, was also the team’s punter and kicker. The St. Albert, Alta. native led the nation in interceptions in 2016 with six, and also added 39 total tackles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery en route to being named an All-Canadian.
Kene Onyeka, LB — Carleton | Onyeka, who can line up at both defensive end or linebacker, was named an OUA All-Star for the first time this past season. His 49 total tackles were good for 14th in the nation, and he also added a sack to his stat line. The Brampton, Ont. native is also a cousin of former Laurier linebacker Nakas Onyeka, who was recently drafted by the Toronto Argonauts.
Noah Picton, QB — Regina | In 2014, Picton became the first-ever Canada West freshman to throw for over 2000 yards; even more impressive considering the fact that he split time with veteran Cayman Shutter. The following season he put up 2134 passing yards, and in 2016 he completed a record-breaking campaign which saw the Regina, Sask. native set a new single-season record with 3186 passing yards. He also led the nation in both completion percentage and touchdown passes, becoming the first Rams player to ever receive the Hec Crighton Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player.
Alex Taylor, RB — Western | Taylor has taken the nation by storm over the past two seasons, racking up a combined 2,055 yards on the ground. He’s also had at least 10 rushing touchdowns in both 2015 and 2016 and has been named an All-Canadian in each season. The Mustangs employed a healthy dose of the ground game last year in particular, as Taylor was fed the ball 149 times, the fifth most in Canada.
Ryan Sceviour, OT — Calgary | Sceviour was part of a Calgary offensive line that led the conference in total rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per game last season, earning himself an All-Canadian nod in the process. He’s been a familiar face up front for the Dinos over the past three seasons and has the ability to play both guard or tackle. Sceviour also displayed his athleticism in last year’s Hardy Cup victory over UBC, hauling in a 21-yard reception that set up a touchdown.
Godfrey Onyeka, CB — Laurier | Godfrey, the brother of Kene Onyeka, has been an invaluable aspect of Laurier’s defence over the past few seasons. He’s earned an All-Canadian nod in each of the past two years while adding a combined 70 tackles and five interceptions.
Jayden McKoy, HB — Manitoba | McKoy has done it all over the past three years for the Bisons. In 2016, the team struggled with injuries throughout the secondary, forcing McKoy to move from halfback to safety towards the back half of the year where he finished the season with four interceptions overall. He’s also capable of playing corner and has served as punt returner in the past as well. During his time with Manitoba, the local product has recorded 10 interceptions, which is tied for sixth in team history.