December 12, 2013, OTTAWA (ISN) – Evan Gill, a defensive tackle from the University of Manitoba Bisons, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive tackle from McGill University, have been selected to represent CIS football in the 89th edition of the prestigious East-West Shrine Game on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. CST, live on NFL Network. The game will also be streamed online at www.shrinegame.com .
The longest running university all-star game in the United States, the Shrine Game has been played annually since 1925 to raise funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children and to raise awareness about the expert orthopedic, burn, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, as well as cleft lip and palate care, available to patients and families through the 23 Shriners Hospitals for Children in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Since 1985, CIS has been represented annually – usually by two players – at the event which features over 100 all-stars, primarily from NCAA institutions, with the exception of 1985 (one CIS player), 2008 (4) and 2012 (3).
The impressive list of past CIS standouts invited to the Shrine Game includes current NFL defensive linemen Israel Idonije of the Detroit Lions and Akiem Hicks of the New Orleans Saints, who starred for the Manitoba Bisons and Regina Rams, respectively; former NFLers Mike Schad (Queen’s), Randy Chevrier (McGill), Dan Federkeil (Calgary) and Samuel Giguère (Sherbrooke); as well as Hec Crighton Trophy winners Don Blair (Calgary), Kojo Aidoo (McMaster), Jesse Lumsden (McMaster) and Andy Fantuz (Western).
Highlighting the list of NFL greats who have participated in the event are Tom Brady, Brett Favre, John Elway, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Kellen Winslow and Larry Csonka. A total of 71 Shrine Game alumni have gone on to become NFL Hall of Famers.
Gill, who hails from Winnipeg, is the third Manitoba player to be selected for the Shrine Game, after Idonije (2003) and defensive lineman Jason Rauhaus (1992).
In his third season with the Bisons, his second at the tackle position after starting his university career as a defensive end in 2011, Gill was named a Canada West all-star for the first time after he racked up three quarterback sacks and 7.5 tackles – second best in the conference – to finish the campaign with 28.5 tackles in eight league games. The 21-year-old arts student also broke two passes, forced a fumble and blocked a kick on special teams as he helped Manitoba reach the Canada West Hardy Cup final for the first time since 2007.
The 6-3, 280-pound junior, who has not missed a conference or playoff contest since he joined the Bisons, represented the U of M last spring at the CIS East-West Bowl prospect game. He also competed at the 2012 International Bowl in Texas, helping the World Team to a 35-29 upset with over the USA.
“I am proud and excited for Evan to receive this recognition,” said Manitoba head coach Brian Dobie. “He has been an important part of our Bison success over the last few seasons and he will have a fantastic opportunity to showcase his tremendous skill and talent at the East-West Shrine Game.”
In St. Petersburg, Duvernay-Tardif and Gill will suit up for the East and West, respectively, and will get a chance to play for a pair of high-profile coaches.
In charge of the West troops, Romeo Crennel is also back for a second tour of duty, having guided the East squad back in 2010. Crennel spent 31 years as an NFL coach and won five Super Bowls as an assistant. The 66-year-old claimed his first two NFL championships in 1986 and 1990 as an assistant with Bill Parcells’ New York Giants and helped the New England Patriots to Super Bowl victories in 2001, 2003 and 2004 as defensive coordinator under Bill Belichik. The NFL’s assistant coach of the year in 2003, Crennel had a four-season stint as head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2005 to 2008 and was also at the helm of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011 (interim) and 2012.
The East team will be led for the second straight year by Jerry Glanville, whose coaching career in the NCAA and NFL spanned over five decades. The 72-year-old got his start at Western Kentucky in 1967 and landed his first job in the professional ranks with the Detroit Lions in 1974.
He would remain in the NFL until 1993, including head coaching stints with Houston (1986-1989) and Atlanta (1990-1993). After 12 years away from the sidelines, Glanville returned to the NCAA for two seasons as defensive coordinator at Hawaii (2005-2006) and three campaigns as head coach with Portland State (2007-2009).