Saskatchewan’s Heenan selected first overall

OTTAWA (ISN) – Ben Heenan, an offensive lineman from the University of Saskatchewan, became the sixth CIS player in as many years – and the 10th in the past 13 years – to be selected first overall in the CFL Canadian Draft when the Saskatchewan Roughriders called his name at No. 1, on Thursday.

For all the information on the CFL Canadian Draft:

A total of 24 CIS players were selected out of 45 total picks (53.3%), including three in the first round, four apiece in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds, and five in the sixth.

Heenan, who hails from Grand Coulee, Sask., followed in the footsteps of St. Francis Xavier linebacker Henoc Muamba, who was picked first overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a year ago, as well as Queen’s linebacker Shomari Williams (Saskatchewan), Alberta offensive lineman Simeon Rottier (Hamilton), Saskatchewan defensive back Dylan Barker (Hamilton) and Regina wide receiver Chris Bauman (Hamilton), the No. 1 selections in 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.

Barker was the only previous U of S player to go at No. 1.

Laval defensive end Miguel Robédé (2005, Calgary), Saint Mary’s offensive lineman Steven Morley (2003, Calgary), Laval offensive lineman Alexandre Gauthier (2002, Ottawa) and UBC linebacker Tyson St. James (2000, Saskatchewan) were also top picks out of CIS since 2000.

Since 1965 (year of first Vanier Cup championship), 27 CIS players have been chosen with the first pick. All players selected first overall in the first nine CFL Canadian Drafts between 1956 and 1964 were also from schools currently competing in CIS.

Heenan had a remarkable university career with the Huskies. After being named Canada West rookie of the year in 2008, the 22-year-old twice earned all-Canadian status, making the first CIS all-star team as a guard in 2010 and the second squad as a tackle last fall. One of the few players to take part in two CIS East West Bowls (2010, 2011), he was one of three CIS standouts invited to the NCAA’s East West Shrine Game last January in Florida.

In four campaigns at Saskatchewan, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound agriculture and bioresources student helped the Huskies to three Canada West regular season titles and four playoff appearances, and played a major role as the team led the conference in points scored and total offence on two occasions. Last fall, the Huskies kept a 5-3 record in league play and once again featured one of the most productive offensive units in the country with an average of 29.8 points per game.

Heenan topped the first two prospect lists published this season by the CFL’s Scouting Bureau and occupied the second spot on the third and final ranking, on April 24.

“It was overwhelming and to be able to share this experience with 2000 Huskie supporters, teammates, coaches and my family really meant a lot,” said Heenan, after his selection was announced by Roughriders CEO Jim Hopson Thursday morning at the 12th Annual Dogs’ Breakfast, a scholarship fundraiser for the Huskie football team. “Although my name was the one being called out, everybody from Huskie Athletics helped me get to this point today and for that I am incredibly thankful and forever indebted to them.”

Other CIS players selected in the first round on Thursday were Wildrid Laurier wide receiver Shamawd Chambers, claimed by the Edmonton Eskimos at No. 6, as well as Calgary offensive lineman Kirby Fabien, who was taken by the B.C. Lions with the seventh pick.

Chambers, a native of Markham, Ont., had moved up to a season-high No. 3 on the final Scouting Bureau list. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound senior had 36 catches for 562 yards and five touchdowns in seven conference games last fall to up his career numbers to 123-1765-15 in four campaigns with the Golden Hawks. The three-time OUA all-star was spectacular in Laurier’s lone playoff contest of 2011, amassing 111 yards on 11 receptions in a loss to Queen’s.

Fabien, a Calgary native, was only 15th on the April 24 prospect list but had been ranked fifth on each of the season’s first two lists. In only three campaigns at the U of C, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle was twice named a Canada West all-star and merited all-Canadian status on two occasions, earning a spot on the second CIS team as a freshman in 2009 and on the first squad last fall. He helped the Dinos claim three straight conference banners and reach a pair of Vanier Cup finals.

Other notables among CIS draftees include Calgary linebacker Sam Hurl, the reigning two-time Canada West defensive player of the year, who went in the second round (12th overall); Laval defensive end Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, the back-to-back J.P. Metras Trophy winner as CIS outstanding lineman (17th); Western offensive lineman Matthew Norman, a three-time all-Canadian (22nd); and Sherbrooke wide receiver Simon Charbonneau-Campeau, named RSEQ MVP each of the past two seasons (25th).

Calgary led all CIS programs for the second year in a row, with four players selected. Laval and Sherbrooke followed with four apiece.

Canada West was the most prolific of the four CIS conferences with eight draftees, followed by the RSEQ (7), OUA (5) and the AUS (4).

Linebackers were the most popular CIS players as seven were called. Offensive linemen (6) were second, ahead of receivers (5), defensive backs (3), defensive linemen (2) and running backs (1).

The 2012 CFL season gets underway on June 29th.

NOTES: The 1983 and 1984 CFL Canadian Drafts opened with one Territorial Protection per team, so the first player drafted was the 10th overall choice… Each Draft from 1973 to 1982 opened with two Territorial Protections per team, so the first player drafted was the 19th overall choice…

CIS players selected in 2012 CFL Canadian Draft (24):

First Round (7 total selections)

1. Ben Heenan, Saskatchewan, OL (by Saskatchewan)

6. Shamawd Chambers, Wilfrid Laurier, WR (by Edmonton)

7. Kirby Fabien, Calgary, OL (by B.C.)

Second Round (7 total selections)

3. (10 total) Frédéric Plesius, Laval, LB (by Hamilton)

4. (11 total) Patrick Lavoie, Laval, RB (by Montreal)

5. (12 total) Sam Hurl, Calgary, LB (by Saskatchewan)

6. (13 total) Carson Rockhill, Calgary, OL (by Hamilton)

Third Round (8 total selections)

1. (15 total) Keenan MacDougall, Saskatchewan, DB (by Calgary)

2. (16 total) Johnny Aprile, Queen’s, WR (by Winnipeg)

3. (17 total) Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, Laval, DL (by Hamilton)

8. (22 total) Matthew Norman, Western, OL (by B.C.)

Fourth Round (8 total selections)

3. (25 total) Simon Charbonneau-Campeau, Sherbrooke, WR (by Hamilton)

4. (26 total) Lance Milton, UBC, DB (by Montreal)

6. (28 total) Quincy Hurst, Manitoba, WR (by Toronto)

7. (29 total) Jake Thomas, Acadia, DL (by Winnipeg)

Fifth Round (8 total selections)

1. (31 total) Mike Filer, Mount Allison, OL (by Calgary)

5. (35 total) Kevin Régimbald-Gagné, Sherbrooke, LB (by Saskatchewan)

7. (37 total) Jordan Verdone, Calgary, LB (by B.C.)

8. (38 total) Ryan King, Saint Mary’s, LB (by Edmonton)

Sixth Round (7 total selections)

1. (39 total) Ismaël Bamba, Sherbrooke, WR (by Saskatchewan)

2. (40 total) Aaron Crawford, Saint Mary’s, LB (by Toronto)

3. (41 total) Shea Pierre, Windsor, DB (by Toronto)

6. (44 total) Ryan White, Bishop’s, OL (by Montreal)

7. (45 total) Wilkerson DeSouza, Toronto, LB (by Calgary)

CIS players selected by round (24):

First round: 3

Second round: 4

Third round: 4

Fourth round: 4

Fifth round: 4

Sixth round: 5

CIS players selected by regional associations (24):


Canada West: 8


OUA: 5

AUS: 4


CIS players selected by universities (24):

Calgary: 4

Laval: 3

Sherbrooke: 3

Saskatchewan: 2

Saint Mary’s: 2

Wilfrid Laurier: 1

Queen’s: 1

Western: 1

UBC: 1

Manitoba: 1

Acadia: 1

Mount Allison: 1

Windsor: 1

Bishop’s: 1

Toronto: 1

CIS players selected by positions (24):

Linebacker: 7

Offensive linemen: 6

Receivers: 5

Defensive backs: 3

Defensive linemen: 2

Running back: 1