The return of CFL football is upon us, and as training camps break across the league, all eight teams are setting their sights on winning the Grey Cup. For the first time in a couple of seasons, the BC Lions are going to have a very competitive training camp. The off-season saw the team release several veterans, many of the big name variety in an effort to build a younger, faster team. Here’s our 2 cents about where the battles will take place at camp and who to keep your eye on. In part 1 of our training camp primer, we’ll examine the offense. [Read more…]
When former BC Lions star Bobby Singh was a young man starting on his way to a professional football career, he dreamed of creating a football camp for kids one day. That dream came true for Singh on May 30th when he hosted the first annual Down Set Hut Football Camp for kids in his home town of Richmond, BC. With perfect weather and a bunch of his CFL friends joining him, Singh provided a great day of football fun for over 100 kids ages 7-15.
In addition to Bobby, the camp featured current BC Lions Geroy Simon, Javier Glatt, Barron Miles, Dean Valli, Paul McCallum, Angus Reid, Sherko Haji-Rasouli and rookie Justin Sorensen. They were joined by Will Loftus of the Montreal Alouettes and Marc Beswick of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and a host of junior players and coaches.
The kids were split up into groups and spent 18 minutes at various stations designed to teach them the different aspects of the game, everything from receiving, defending, tackling, kicking and offensive line play. Each station had designated coaches giving the kids tips and encouragement. The kids also received t-shirts, prizes and talks from the CFL players and at the end of the day they got to a play a touch football game with them as well.
Singh not only plans to make the camp an annual event, his plan is to make it bigger and better, and spread it around the province as well, telling BCLionsDen.ca that next year his goal is to do a camp in the lower mainland, one on Vancouver Island, and one in the Okanagan. Singh also sponsored 20 or so kids out of his own pocket from the Boy and Girls Clubs of Vancouver.
One of the things the late Bob Ackles wanted to improve on upon his return to the Lions was building football at the grassroots level, and camps like this certainly contribute to building that foundation. CFL players are so outstanding interacting with the fans and it’s great to see a player of Bobby Singh’s stature give back to the community by introducing these kids to the game of football.
If you would like more information on Bobby Singh’s camp make sure you visit the website at http://www.downsethutfootball.com
Down Set Hut 2009 Photo Gallery:
|Offensive Line Coach Dan Dorazio needs to find the right man to replace Rob Murphy at left tackle.|
When Rob Murphy left the BC Lions to sign a free agent deal with the Toronto Argonauts, the Lions lost more than arguably the best offensive lineman in the league, they lost a big chunk of attitude from their offensive line. When Murphy arrived in BC in the 2006 season, he quickly staked claim to the left tackle position, and in doing so he instilled a whole new type of attitude within BC’s offensive line.
That attitude was infectious, and along with right tackle Jason Jimenez, guards Kelly Bates and Sherko Haji-Rasouli and centre Angus Reid, the Lions offensive line soon developed a reputation across the league for it’s brand of smack you in the mouth football. In a recent interview, Angus Reid stated it’s an attitude they intend to keep up, even if the man that brought it to BC has moved on.
So who are the candidates to replace the two time CFL outstanding lineman? Let’s take a look at four of the names that will be in training camp vying for the job.
#63 – Walter Stith
Walter Stith is a big man. At 6’9″ and just under 300 pounds, the second year Lion enters camp as the first man at the depth chart for Murphy’s job. Stith was the understudy to Murphy last season and filled in nicely while Murphy awaited the birth of his children at the start of last season. Stith played three college seasons at Western Michigan before transferring to NC A&T for his final season. Earned First Team All-MEAC honours at right tackle and was selected to play in the Hula Bowl in 2006.
After a brief stint with the Buffalo Bills, Stith was one of the last finds of the departing Bob O’Billovich. He made the Lions roster last year because he has the ability to play both tackle positions, and he has good pass blocking ability thanks to a large wingspan which help keep pass rushing defenders at bay.
At just 26 years old old Stith is just entering the prime of his career. Coach Buono stated in a recent interview that Stith’s off-season training has been good and the club is pleased that Stith has bulked up his lanky frame. With a strong showing at training camp Stith is the leading candidate to find himself as the starting left tackle come opening day.
#66 – Darren Marquez
Darren Marquez was an off-season free agent signing by the club. At 6-5 and 315, Marquez as experience at the left tackle position. Marquez had 39 starts at LT for Southern Illinois and was selected All-Gateway Conference First-Team as a senior.
Signed as a free agent by Indianapolis in 2008, Marquez was released after one pre-season game. His scouting report on SI.com had this to say about his strengths:
Nimble feet are always a good thing for a big man in the fast CFL game. The knock on Marquez has been that he’s not strong enough for the NFL game. He’ll have to prove he’s strong enough to play in Canada as well, and will be in tough with the talent and ratio issues facing him, and the Lions desire to develop Sorensen.
#68 – Justin Sorensen
The Lions were thrilled to get 2008 first round draft pick Justin Sorensen under contract this off-season. Sorensen comes to the Lions after going unpicked in this year’s NFL draft, but sporting an impressive college career at South Carolina, starting 31 straight games for his club.
This high level of football on Sorensen’s resume is what has the Lions salivating at this non-imports potential. Although he played in Jason Jimenez’s right tackle spot in college, it is more than likely the Lions will take a look at Sorensen on the left, or perhaps even as a guard in Kelly Bates spot to start if Stith impresses and they feel Sorensen needs some seasoning at the pro level. Dean Valli has been penciled in on the depth chart in Bates’ spot entering camp.
Make no mistake, the Lions are very high on Sorensen, and with his Canadian citizenship he’ll be given every chance to win a roster spot.
#65 – Martin Bibla
In a recent interview, Wally Buono stated that many have said Martin Bibla could be a Rob Murphy clone. The Lions shoud be so luck to have Bibla step right in and be effective as Murphy was right off the bat. The 6’3″ 306 pound Bibla played in 32 games in the NFL for Atlanta before being released after his third season in the league. He’s also seen time in the Arena League
The 29 year old Bibla came from a great football school at the University of Miami and never allowed a sack in his entire college career. To be compared to Murphy, he must have a nasty side to his game, which would fit right into the clubs desire to keep that in your face attitude their line has come to be known for. Bibla played in the guard position in the NFL, so moving to left tackle, perhaps the most critical position on the online could be an adjustment.
Holding three picks in the first round, Wally Buono and the BC Lions were in an enviable position on draft day. The Lions could afford to make a move and they did just that, when they traded their third pick of the first round (6th overall) as well their second round selection (13th overall) for Hamilton’s second selection of the first round (3rd overall). With the obtained pick, Wally Buono chose perhaps the best athlete in the draft, hometown talent Jamall Lee.
Let’s take a look at Lee and the rest of the players the Lions selected in the draft.
RB Jamall Lee – Bishop’s
The trade with Hamilton ensured Wally would get his man, and that was running back Jamall Lee from Port Coquitlam, BC. The Bishop’s running back impressed scouts and evaluators at the CFL E-Camp earlier this year, and the Lions feel he is a good enough athlete to play either as a tailback or perhaps be converted to a receiver. Lee put his speed on display when he broke the E-Camp record for the 40, recording a 4.39 time.
The son of former CFL rushing champion Orville Lee, Jamall had a great college season in 2008. Among his accomplishments:
- CIS’ leading rusher with 1202 yards on 182 carries
- Set a new QUFL single-season record for carries (breaking his own record, set in 2007)
- QUFL All-time leading rusher with 4,296 career yards (4th all-time in CIS)
- Set a QUFL record (2nd all-time in CIS) with 391 yards rushing Sept. 19 at McGill
- Led QUFL with 10 touchdowns
Drafting Lee may have been a bit of a gamble for the Lions. He’s currently attending mini camps for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers who he signed a free agent deal with last week after going unpicked in the NFL draft. If the gamble pays off the Lions got a very talented athlete, and a potential star for their offense in the future.
LB James Yurichuk – Bishop’s
The Lions went back to Bishop’s University for their next pick and chose linebacker James Yurichuk with the fourth overall pick. Yurichuk was ranked lower by most scouts, but the Lions saw something they liked in the 6’2″ 222 pound player who has started every game in the last two seasons for his team, and was named team captain in 2008.
Bishop’s coach Leroy Blugh had these points to make about his player:
- Great athlete, relentless to the football, strong knowledge of the game.
- Moves well in pass and run at LB. Solid special teams contributor.
- Young upcoming linebacker with the ability to start early in career
- Will be an immediate contributor on special teams
WR Matt Carter – Acadia
The Lions added to their Canadian depth at receiver when they selected wide receiver Matt Carter out of Acadia with the 5th overall pick in the draft. A four year starter at Acadia, the Kelowna BC native was a 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 AUS All-Star. At 6’2″ and 212 pounds, Carter has a knack for coming down with the ball and was a major weapon on the Axemen’s offense the last three seasons.
His head coach at Acadia, Jeff Cummins described his player as a clutch receiver. “ Matt is very coachable and works at his craft as a receiver and has gotten better every year. He has been our primary receiver for the last two seasons and when we need a big play we go to him”. “Matt has very good quickness, understands windows and works very hard to the best. He runs good routes and uses his stem quite well at the beginning of routes. Matt has consistently made big plays for Acadia throughout his career and will eventually do the same in the CFL.”
OT Matt Morencie – Windsor
When the Lions picked at the 21st position in the 3rd round, they must have been pleasantly surprised when the 3rd ranked offensive lineman in the draft was still available. Windsor’s Matt Morencie was projected to go on the first round in the final CIS rankings. A key contributor to a strong Windsor offensive line, Morencie was a 2007 and 2008 East West Bowl Participant and a 2nd and 1st team OUA all-star in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Morencie is determined to make his new team comfortable they made the right choice. “I have an extensive skill set and am able to play a number of positions on both sides of the ball. I am passionate about the game and excited about the possibility of playing at the CFL level. Someone will be getting a player who is intensely committed to the game and interested in making himself the most proficient player possible.”, he told CFL.ca.
The selection of Morencie adds another solid young Canadian talent to group that already includes Lorne Plante and Justin Sorenson, and perhaps signals the start of a changing of the guard along the offensive line.
DB Tang Bacheyie – Kansas
The Lions went back to the defensive side of the ball in the 4th round selecting Kansas defensive back Tang Bacheyie. Bacheyie is described as a physical player, who can also provide decent run support from the secondary. “He’s a very physical kid. He’s a good-sized guy. He will hit you and tackle you well. He can run, but he’s a strong run-support type guy.” said his defensive coordinator Clint Bowen.
DL Jonathan Pierre-Étienne – Montreal
With their final pick of the draft, in the 5th round, the Lions selected DL Jonathan Pierre-Étienne. Pierre-Étienne played for Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the NCAA from 2005-2007. has had to overcome a language barrier and a hip problem which had some questioning if he may have to give up the game.