BURNABY — Simon Fraser University may not have won a football game this past season, but Canadian Football League scouts saw plenty of talent atop Burnaby Mountain, its teams selecting a total of four Clan players Sunday in the CFL draft.
As well, several of the province’s top high school programs — the Terry Fox Ravens, Notre Dame Jugglers and St. Thomas More Knights — had reason to cheer with some of their top alumnus making the step to the professional ranks.
Topping it all Sunday was 6-foot-8, 324-pound offensive lineman Mason Woods of the Idaho Vandals, the Port Coquitlam native and graduate of the Terry Fox Ravens, who was selected 10th overall by the Toronto Argonauts.
“Getting Mason, at the size he is, he is still going to mature into a fine football player,” Toronto GM Jim Popp told argonauts.ca. He has played three years of major college football and has played against a lot of great talent which will make it an easier transition to come in as a pro athlete.”
Added Idaho head coach Paul Petrino, speaking to GoVandals.com: “Mason worked very hard and improved every year. He worked on his flexibility and his ability to bend. That made him a very good football player. I hope he can play many years at the next level.”
Woods was at his fraternity in Moscow when he got the news, adding to GoVandals.com: “It was watch and wait, then I finally got the call. It was pretty crazy. I’m real excited right now. I wanted to find a team that could utilize me right away.”
As well, two other B.C. high school products, as well as twin linebacking brothers from Winnipeg made up a four-player class of Simon Fraser Clan football players selected Sunday.
The Calgary Stampeders selected SFU players in both the fourth and fifth rounds, tabbing 6-foot-1, 230-pound running back Ante Milanovich-Litre with the second pick of the fourth round (28th overall) and 6-foot-1, 318-pound offensive lineman Felix Gacusana Jr. with the second-to-last pick of the fifth round (43rd overall). Both will join former SFU receiver and Centennial Secondary grad Lemar Durant.
“Ante had a good regional and national combine,” said Stamps’ running back coach Marc Mueller to Stampeders.com. “He showed great athleticism and moved well one-on-one, both blocking and receiving. He has the tools to be a solid CFL fullback.”
The bruising Litre was a standout for the Notre Dame Jugglers throughout his high school career.
Gacusana, a grad of Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Collegiate, logged heavy minutes along the Clan front, especially over his final two seasons with SFU.
“He showed a competitive attitude and a nasty streak,” Stamps’ offensive line coach Pat DelMonaco told Stampeders.com.
SFU’s twin linebacking brothers, Jordan and Justin Herdman, will be playing for different teams for the first time in their careers.
Justin Herdman, the 6-foot-1, 235-pound outside linebacker, was a seventh-round pick (54th overall) of the Argonauts, while 6-foot-2, 235-pound middle linebacker Jordan Herdman, the all-time leading tackler in GNAC conference history, was picked in the same round, 60th overall, by the B.C. Lions.
Jordan Herdman was recently invited to rookie mini-camp with the Kansas City Chiefs which runs May 6-8.
Since 1985, SFU has had 97 players drafted into the CFL, second only to the Calgary Dinos with 98.
The UBC Thunderbirds had one player picked Sunday.
Receiver Alex Morrison, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound Sault St. Marie, Ont., native, was picked in the fourth round (29th overall), one spot after Litre, by the Montreal Alouettes.
He will attend New York Giants rookie mini-camp on May 11. Read story here.
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