UBC's Trivel Pinto (1) is set to catch the offerings of Bo Levi Mitchell after being selected in the second round of the CFL Draft on Thursday by the Calgary Stampeders. (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics 2020. All Rights Reserved)
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UBC’s Trivel Pinto: After a year away from the gridiron, ‘Birds dynamic receiver catches on as 12th overall pick, joins Calgary Stampeders

VANCOUVER — Trivel Pinto is back.

UBC’s dynamic, game-breaking receiver, who spent a year away from the game after the results of a failed drug test, revealed in February of 2019, made him ineligible for last year’s CFL Draft, was selected with the third pick of the second round (12th overall) of Thursday’s selection meeting by the Calgary Stampeders.

Pinto, part of UBC head coach Blake Nill’s first recruiting class, made an immediate impact on the field as a freshman, building special chemistry with quarterback Michael O’Connor and helped lead the Thunderbirds to the 2015 Vanier Cup national title.

Dynamic, precise in the route-running department, and versatile enough to star on kick returns and in the defensive backfield when leaned upon by Nill, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Toronto native finished his UBC career as a first team U Sports All-Canadian with 5,500-plus all-purpose career yards, including over 3,300 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air.

Said TSN’s panel of draft experts upon Pinto’s selection Thursday:

Duane Forde: “Dynamic is a great word to describe him. A receiver by trade, a guy who has pretty good speed and ran a sub 4.5 40 on his virtual pro day. This year, after a year away from football, serving a suspension after a positive drug test last year, you cannot question his productivity at UBC. A terrific battery with quarterback Michael O’connor during their time there. Some teams may question what Trivel Pinto is all about, but he’s on a mission to prove that he made one mistake, and he’s learned from it and he’s ready to get on with his Canadian football league career.”

Davis Sanchez: “Forget about receivers… he is one of the best players in this draft. He runs great routes, he gets in and out of his breaks exceptionally well, he separates and what I love about him… he’s flat-out tough. He’s got that dog in him to go across the middle. He competes. The Calgary Stampeders are getting a guy who can come in and play right away and I would have zero worries about putting him in the lineup right away. That’s how good Trivel Pinto is in my opinion when I watch him. He does it all.”

Dave Naylor: “You can imagine what Dave Dickenson can come up with in a Bo Levi led offence to put him to use all over the field.”

Here’s feature I wrote on Pinto back in 2016.

On Sept. 16, 2017, following UBC’s 31-10 Homecoming Game win before almost 10,000 at Thunderbird Stadium, Pinto was electrifying with 165 receiving yards and 242 of the all-purpose variety.

Said Nill after that game: “I am a big fan of this guy and as long as he continues to mature and make good decisions, then you know what?… I think he could be the No. 1 pick of the (2019) CFL draft.”

With the 21st pick of the draft, Calgary followed up by taking Simon Fraser wide receiver Rysen John, the 6-foot-7 Vancouver College grad who last Saturday signed an undrafted free agent contract with the NFL’s New York Giants and will attend the NFC East team’s main training camp.

Here is my Varsity Letters’ story published this past Saturday on Rysen John.

With the 36th overall pick, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats selected former UBC defensive back Stavros Katsantonis. The 5-foot-9, 188 pounder out of Bakersfield, Cal., was also part of Nill’s first recruiting class and was selected the defensive MVP of the 2015 Vanier Cup.

Like Pinto, Katsantonis was ineligible to be picked last season. Katsantonis tested positive for a performance enhancing substance in advanced of the 2019 CFL Draft.

Here’s a story I wrote on Katsantonis part way through his rookie season with the Birds.

With the 42nd pick, the Toronto Argonauts selected Waterloo running back Dion Pellerin.

The 2016 graduate of W.J. Mouat Secondary in Abbotsford was not only a standout running back and linebacker for the Hawks, in his Grade 11 year, when the team hit depth problems along its offensive line, Pellerin took one for the team and spent the season at right guard (read my story on Pellerin from The Province, back in 2015 here).

Said then-Mouat head coach Travis Bell: “He’s got a whole lot of toughness and he is the total package.”

At pick No. 49, Regina Rams’ offensive lineman Andrew Becker was selected by the Montreal Alouettes. Becker, at 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, starred for Kelowna’s Rutland Voodoos throughout his high school career.

With the 54th pick of the draft, Hamilton selected UBC defensive back Jean Ventose, a 6-foot, 200-pounder who originally transferred to the Point Grey campus from the University of Calgary.

Calgary Dinos’ receiver Michael Klukas (front) battles UBC’s Jean Ventose at Thunderbird Stadium. (Bob Frid/UBC athletics)

With the second-to-last pick, 72nd overall, Hamilton picked UBC defensive lineman Tom Schnitzler, a 6-foot-5, 245 pounder who came to Vancouver from the Saskatoon Hilltops.

In total, four UBC players were picked Thursday.

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