A total of 22 of the top football prospects from the Canada West conference are among the athletes who descended upon Laval University yesterday for the start of East-West Bowl week.
Included in the list is the reigning Most Outstanding Player in Canadian university football in Noah Picton, as well as four other former U SPORTS All-Canadians. Below is a full breakdown of who is representing the Canada West in Quebec.
NOTE: Former U SPORTS All-Canadians are marked in italics, while 2016 Canada West All-Stars are marked with a * sign.
CALGARY DINOS: TOTAL ATHLETES ATTENDING — 6
Dallas Boath — WR: Boath had his best season as a Dino last year, recording 210 yards on just 11 receptions in seven regular season contests while also serving as a punt returner. His coming out party arguably came in the 2016 postseason however, where he recorded a touchdown reception in both conference playoff matchups, including a 104-yard performance against UBC in the Hardy Cup, which led the team.
*Ryan Sceviour — OT: Sceviour was part of a Calgary offensive line that led the conference in total rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per game last season and also earned 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.
Darius Ciraco — C: Ciraco is another cant-miss prospect on the offensive line for Calgary. He was named an All-Canadian in 2015 at left guard for a Dinos team that averaged over 240 yards on the ground per game and also had 29 touchdowns. The Burlington, Ontario native was hampered by injury in 2016, but when healthy is a difference maker up front.
*Boston Rowe — SAM: Rowe, a former standout quarterback in high school, made the switch to defence in 2014 and has steadily improved every season since. Last year he was all over the field, leading the team with 53.5 total tackles as well as 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions and also earned his first Canada West All-Star selection.
Micah Teitz — LB: Teitz is a hard-hitting linebacker who has been a fixture in the Dinos defence over the past two seasons. In 2015 he was selected as an All-Canadian as well as a Canada West All-Star after tallying 34 total tackles as well as two sacks. Last year he finished just behind Rowe with 52 total tackles, and also had three pass breakups.
Brett Wade — DT: Wade, a former Rookie of the Year with the Regina Thunder of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL), has been a key asset in the front four over the past four seasons for Calgary. He recorded 21 tackles as well as 2.5 sacks as a rookie in 2013, and has totaled 55.5 tackles and 6.5 sacks during his university career as a whole. Last year he was the anchor for a Dinos defensive line that led the conference in rushing yards allowed. Wade is also a former wrestler who was part of Team Canada and Team World in 2012.
REGINA RAMS: TOTAL ATHLETES ATTENDING — 4
*Noah Picton — QB: Picton has been nothing short of impressive during his four years with the Rams. Despite standing just five-foot-nine, the reigning Most Outstanding Player has delivered on every level for Regina. In 2014 he became the first-ever Canada West rookie to throw for over 2000 yards, which is 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, Saskatchewan 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.
Atlee Simon — RB: Simon has made an impact in all three seasons that he’s been with the Rams. He was one of just four players to step straight into Regina’s lineup out of high school in 2014, and finished with 524 yards in his rookie season. During his time with the Rams, the local product has put up a total of 2029 yards on the ground as well as 2484 all-purpose yards and is just 906 rushing yards away from surpassing Neal Hughes for the school’s all-time lead in that category.
*Daniel Nesbitt — LB: Nesbitt, much like Simon also stepped into Regina’s lineup immediately after high school in 2014, and earned his first start in the team’s Canada West semi-final contest against Calgary. He’s another versatile player, who’s started at both SAM and MAC linebacker for the Rams. in 2015 he started five games at the SAM position, finishing with 13 total tackles as well as a sack. Last year was a breakout season for Nesbitt, who earned his first Canada West All-Star selection as the team’s starting middle linebacker. He led the team in total tackles with 52 and also had two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two interceptions.
Eric Wicijowski — DT: Wicijowski was another player who stepped into the Rams lineup straight out of high school in 2014, starting at defensive end in weeks seven and eight as well as Regina’s postseason game against the Dinos. In 2015 he made the move inside, collecting 16 total tackles as well as a sack. Another local product, Wicijowski was missed last season, after suffering a season-ending injury in the first game of the regular season and is looking to rebound in 2017.
SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES: TOTAL ATHLETES ATTENDING — 4
Kyle Siemens — QB: Siemens, a local product, is coming off his best season as a Huskie, where he threw for 2091 yards and 13 touchdowns as the team’s feature pivot. He spent the prior two seasons learning from veteran Drew Burko, who Siemens went to high school with, and had been Saskatchewan’s opening day starter for the past four years. It’s evident that Siemens was a quick learner, as he was stellar in the second half of the 2015 season and continued that momentum in 2016.
Tyler Chow — RB: Chow, one of the top high school recruits entering the 2014 season, hasn’t disappointed during his three years with Saskatchewan. He stepped into a starting role towards the end of his rookie campaign, and averaged 5.2 yards per carry on 53 rushes. In 2015, he was the feature back for the Huskies, and averaged 96.8 yards per game in six contests. Last season Chow made a statement, finishing the year as the conference-leader in rushing yards with 828 and yet again showed his gritty running style after averaging a whopping 6.5 yards per carry. He was honoured at the end of the year as both an All-Canadian as well as a Canada West All-Star.
Ryan Breadner — OT: Originally from Texas, the six-foot-eight, 312-pounder has been a lock at left tackle over the past three seasons for Saskatchewan. He’s quite nimble for his size, and helped pave the way for Chow’s conference-leading rushing performance last season.
Matt Kozun — DT: Kozun, a former two-time CJFL All-Canadian with the Saskatoon Hilltops, enjoyed tremendous success in his first season with the Huskies last year. He recorded 20 total tackles, along with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Look for the local product to pick up where he left off entering his second year with Saskatchewan.
UBC THUNDERBIRDS: TOTAL ATHLETES ATTENDING — 4
Will Watson — SB: Watson has been a huge presence offensively over the past two seasons for the Thunderbirds. He led the squad in receptions in both 2015 and 2016, quickly turning into one of quarterback Michael O’Connor’s favourite targets. Where Watson has really shone however, has been in the postseason. In the Thunderbirds Vanier Cup run two seasons ago for example, Watson led the nation with 26 catches for 391 yards, which included a 12 reception, 171 yard performance in the national final against a stingy Montreal defence. In six total playoff games over the past two seasons, the Surrey, B.C. native has recorded more than 500 yards receiving, demonstrating his ability to come through in critical situations.
William Maxwell — WR (played DB this past year for UBC): Maxwell, a transfer from the University of Calgary, is a former receiver for the Dinos who was converted to defensive back in 2016 by the T-Birds. He’s also an excellent track and field runner, and his athleticism would likely translate well to the CFL.
Dakoda Shepley — OG: A native of Windsor, Ontario, Shepley was originally recruited by former Thunderbirds head coach Shawn Olson to play tackle, but shifted to guard when Blake Nill took over in 2015 — a position he started in when the T-Birds hoisted the Vanier Cup that same season. At six-foot-five and nearly 300 pounds, Shepley has pro-ready size, while his versatility is also an invaluable asset.
*AJ Blackwell — HB: Blackwell is another player who has demonstrated his versatility over the past few seasons for UBC. Originally recruited as a running back out of North Vancouver’s Carson Graham Secondary, he was later converted to the defensive side of the ball and shone this past season at halfback. He finished second in the conference with 56.5 total tackles and also added three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt, en route to being named a Canada West All-Star.
MANITOBA BISONS: TOTAL ATHLETES ATTENDING — 2
Jayden McKoy — HB: 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. 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.
Houston Rennie — SAM: Rennie, another local product and high school teammate of McKoy, enjoyed his best season as a Bison in 2016 after making the move from halfback to starting strong-side linebacker. His 37 total tackles were good for fourth on the team, and he also displayed his coverage abilities — an invaluable skill at the SAM position — registering seven pass break-ups, good for second in the conference.
ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS: TOTAL ATHLETES ATTENDING — 2
Mark Korte — OT: Korte, a graduate of Spruce Grove High School in Alberta, helped anchor a Golden Bears offensive line that gave up just nine sacks during the regular season and was also second in rushing yards per game, with 179.5.
*Justin Lawrence — OG: Lawrence, a fellow Spruce Grove alum, and best friend of Korte, was another key piece on the offensive line for the Golden Bears in 2016. He also earned his second straight conference all-star selection in the process.