OTTAWA (CIS) – A record seven former Canadian Interuniversity Sport players are listed on National Football League rosters going into the 2015 season, which kicks off Thursday night in New England.
This is the highest number of CIS grads to find themselves on NFL lineups at the same time since the first Canadian university product appeared in an official NFL game back in 1944. The previous mark of six had been set a year ago.
Five of the seven former CIS standouts begin the campaign on their team’s 53-man active roster, including defensive tackle Stefan Charles (Regina) with Buffalo, offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (McGill) with Kansas City, defensive end Akiem Hicks (Regina) with New Orleans, punter Jon Ryan (Regina) with Seattle, as well as running back Tyler Varga (Western) with Indianapolis.
For their part, offensive tackle David Foucault (Montreal) starts the year on Carolina’s practice squad, while centre Brett Jones (Regina) was recently placed on the New York Giants’ injured reserve list. Last fall, Foucault appeared in six games with the Panthers as a rookie.
In 2014, all six CIS grads who started the season in the NFL did so on their club’s 53-man roster.
Ryan, who in February of 2014 became the first CIS alumnus to win the Super Bowl as a participant in the championship game, enters his 10th NFL campaign and his eighth with the Seahawks, after debuting with Green Bay in 2006 and 2007.
Hicks and Charles, former teammates with the U of R Rams, are going into their fourth and third seasons in the league, respectively.
Duvernay-Tardif, who in 2014 became the 11th player in CIS history to be drafted into the NFL when the Chiefs picked him in the sixth round (200th overall), dressed for every game in his rookie campaign but didn’t see any action other than in the preseason.
Varga, who was named the CIS rookie of the year in 2011 before transferring to Yale in the NCAA, is set to make his NFL debut after cracking the Colts’ lineup as a free-agent.
Going into the 2015 schedule, 29 former Canadian university stars have suited up for at least one official NFL contest (regular season or playoff) over the years, including Charles, Duvernay-Tardif, Foucault, Hicks and Ryan. A complete list is included below.
NOTE: Four other CIS grads were recently on NFL rosters but have since been released, including guard Ben Heenan (Saskatchewan) by Indianapolis, defensive tackleVaughn Martin (Western) by Kansas City, linebacker Henoc Muamba (StFX) by Indianapolis and offensive tackle Matt O’Donnell (Queen’s) by Cincinnati… Muamba played in 13 games in his only season with the Colts in 2014, while Martin is a veteran of five NFL campaigns with San Diego (2009-2012) and Miami (2013).
FORMER CIS PLAYERS ON 2015 NFL OPENING-DAY ROSTERS:
Stefan Charles, DT, Regina (Buffalo – 53-man roster)
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, McGill (Kansas City – 53-man roster)
Akiem Hicks, DE, Regina (New Orleans – 53-man roster)
Jon Ryan, P, Regina (Seattle – 53-man roster)
Tyler Varga, RB, Western (Indianapolis – 53-man roster)
David Foucault, OT, Montreal (Carolina – practice roster)
Brett Jones, C, Regina (NY Giants – injured reserve)
FORMER CIS PLAYERS RECENTLY RELEASED BY NFL TEAMS:
Ben Heenan, OG, Saskatchewan (released by Indianapolis on Aug. 7)
Vaughn Martin, DT, Western (released by Kansas City on Aug. 30)
Henoc Muamba, LB, StFX (released by Indianapolis on Sept. 5)
Matt O’Donnell, OT, Queen’s (released by Cincinnati on Sept. 5)
ALL-TIME CIS PLAYERS IN THE NFL (at least one regular season or playoff game):
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, McGill (Kansas City 2014-present) *
David Foucault, OT, Montreal (Carolina 2014-present)
Henoc Muamba, LB, StFX (Indianapolis 2014)
Stefan Charles, DT, Regina (Buffalo 2013-present)
Akiem Hicks, DE, Regina (New Orleans 2012-present)
Jon Ryan, P, Regina (Seattle 2008-present / Green Bay 2006-2007)
Cory Greenwood, LB, Concordia (Kansas City 2010-2012)
Vaughn Martin, DT, Western (Miami 2013 / San Diego 2009-2012)
Israel Idonije, DE, Manitoba (Detroit 2013 / Chicago 2004-2012)
Samuel Giguère, WR, Sherbrooke (Indianapolis 2009)
Dan Federkeil, OL, Calgary (Indianapolis 2006-2009)
Steve Morley, OG/OT, Saint Mary’s (New York Jets 2005)
Randy Chevrier, LS/DE, McGill (Dallas & Cincinnati 2001)
Jean-Philippe Darche, LS, McGill (Seattle 2000-2006 / Kansas City 2007-2008)
Jerome Pathon, REC, Acadia (Indianapolis 1998-2001 / New Orleans 2002-2004 / Atlanta 2005)
Tim Tindale, RB, Western (Buffalo 1995-1997)
Mark Montreuil, CB, Concordia (San Diego 1995-1997)
Tyrone Williams, WR, Western (Dallas 1993)
Dean Dorsey, K, Toronto (Green Bay & Philadelphia 1988)
Brant Bengen, WR, UBC (Seattle 1987)
Dave Sparenberg, OG, Western (Cleveland 1987)
Brian Belway, DE, Calgary (Los Angeles Raiders 1987)
Mike Schad, OG, Queen’s (Los Angeles Rams 1987-1988 / Philadelphia 1989-1993)
Ken Clark, P, Saint Mary’s (Los Angeles Rams 1979)
Brian Fryer, REC, Alberta (Washington 1976)
Jim Young, RB/REC, Queen’s (Minnesota 1965-1966)
Bill Crawford, OG, UBC (New York Giants 1960)
Joe Krol, K/RB, Western (Detroit 1945)
Les Lear, OG/OT, Manitoba (Cleveland 1944-1945 / Los Angeles Rams 1946 / Detroit 1947)
* Duvernay-Tardif dressed for every regular season game with Kansas City in 2014 but didn’t see any action.