Canada West produces growing list of pro football players


June 26, 2013, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – As the 2013 Canadian Football League season prepares for kickoff and the National Football League continues early training camp, Canada West football student-athletes continue to power ahead in pro football, and the number of success stories is growing.

To open the season, there are 54 graduates listed on the eight CFL rosters, up from 48 last year, while seven have landed on National Football League rosters, including veteran Izzy Idonije who signed with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, from just three in 2012-13.

Players such as Hugh O’Neill, along with Jordan Sisco and Jade Etienne look to finally make their mark in the CFL, while 2013 Draft picks Brett Jones, Levi Steinhauer and Mike Edem have the chance to step right in after making the final cut on Sunday.

It’s no surprise that the five-time defending champion University of Calgary Dinos have the most CFL products entering the season, with 15, while long-time Saskatchewan head coach Brian Towriss also has a demonstrated ability to prepare his student-athletes, as the Huskies have 13 graduates in the pro ranks.

CFL 2013 #1 overall pick, Calgary DL Linden Gaydosh, has caught on with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, while three other first overall picks remain in the CFL – WR Chris Bauman (2007, Regina), OL Simeon Rottier (2009, Alberta) and OL Ben Heenan (2012, Saskatchewan).

Former NFL lineman Dan Federkeil, who retired from the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 after suffering concussion symptoms, is back and with the Calgary Stampeders. Another surprise came in May, when former UBC receiver Victori Marshall, who last played CIS football in 2010 with the Thunderbirds, showed up and impressed so much at min-camp that the Seattle Seahawks signed the former Canada West All-Star.

A record seven Canada West football players have landed in the NFL, including an astonishing four from the University of Regina alone, possibly a record for any Canadian Interuniversity Sport team, but unconfirmed by CIS. Defensive lineman Stefan Charles and offensive lineman Jorgen Hus join Akiem Hicks and long-time NFL punter Jon Ryan to form a quartet of Rams playing south of the 49th parallel.

Israel Idonije, who played in the 2006 Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears, signed with Central Division rival, the Detroit Lions, on Tuesday after nine years in Chicago. – Canada West

The 2013 CFL season opens on Thursday at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, followed by two games on Friday night and another Saturday afternoon to complete the Week #1 schedule.

Full NFL training camps open the last week of July and the regular season starts on September 5th.