66 of the 115 players return from the roster of last year’s team, which went 6-2 in Canada West play and finished in first place in the conference standings for the first time in program history. The list of returning players includes Hec Crighton Trophy-winning quarterback Noah Picton, who will be back for his fourth season of U SPORTS eligibility after a record-setting season in 2016 with the Rams.
38 players are new to the program as the Rams bring in 26 players straight from high school, 11 from Canadian Junior Football League teams, and one university transfer. Six of the new recruits hail from the powerhouse Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School program in Regina, while five of the junior players make the crosstown move to the Rams from the Regina Thunder – that number includes Polis Koko and Ryan Warner, who both started their post-secondary playing careers with the Rams before joining the Thunder.
The coaching staff will also bring in nine players to camp on a tryout basis.
“There’s going to be incredible competition at several positions this weekend and all of the coaches are excited to get out there and see what develops,” Rams head coach Steve Bryce said. “Specifically, I expect there to be fierce battles at linebacker and offensive line with the quality of incoming players we have at those positions. It’s going to be a wake-up call for a lot of guys, and I can’t wait to see how some of the top high school and junior recruits match up against our returning players.”
With installation of a new turf surface ongoing at the on-campus practice field, the Rams will utilize Leibel Field for this year’s spring camp. They will practice there on Friday night (7:00 to 9:00), Saturday morning (9:00 to 11:45), and Sunday afternoon (12:00 to 3:00) before concluding camp with a scrimmage on Monday scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
The Regina Thunder Football Club will continue their 2017 roster selection by hosting their annual Spring Camp April 28th to April 30th presented by O&T Farms.
Spring Camp is an invite only camp and one of the final stages of the selection process for our 2017 roster. The Regina Thunder has hosted four off season indoor workouts in Moose Jaw since January to identify participants for this year’s camp. Spring Camp will host approximately 125 players from throughout the province.
Following this weekend’s Spring Camp, the Regina Thunder will host the NCAA Div III Concordia College Cobbers from Moorhead Minnesota as part of the 2017 CanAm Football Exchange presented by AGT Foods & Leak Technology, Monday, May 8th, starting at 5pm at Leibel Field.
The Regina Thunder go into the 2017 season looking to get back on top of the PFC (Prairie Football Conference) and Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) where they were the Canadian Champions in 2013. The 2017 Regular Season starts at home Saturday August 12th vs the Saskatoon Hilltops.
Please see the following “Players to Watch” spotlight on a select few of this year’s new recruits and guest coaches.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
#69 Zakk Fisher – DL (Tackle), (6’4, 250), Riffel Collegiate, Regina, SK
Zakk is a solid DL recruit possessing great size, quick feet and hands. We look forward to Zakk increasing his already solid skill set in the weeks ahead. We anticipate Zakk making an immediate impact on the roster.
#92 Brian Wirachowsky – DL (Tackle), (6’1”, 210), Leboldus High School, Regina, SK
Brian has been a pleasant surprise during the indoor workouts this winter. His impressive football skills and coachable attitude have stood out. We are certain that Brian's football career will benefit both him and the Thunder.
#36 Cole Milford – LB, (6’1”, 220), Holy Rosary High School, Lloydminster, AB
Cole is a very strong, quick athlete that the Thunder feels will excel quickly into their system… Cole was part of a Holy Rosary football team that went undefeated last season and was a team captain. Besides having excellent size Cole also is a very smart, intuitive football player that proved to have a real nose for the ball at indoor camps.
#38 Cody Erdelyan – LB (6’0”, 215), Thom Collegiate, Regina, SK
Cody was a two way player for Thom Collegiate and played on several special teams. Cody has great build to be an inside Linebacker and has really impressed the coaches with his coach ability during the indoor camps… The Thunder Cody to bring some much needed depth to the LB spot and be a contributor on Special Teams his first year with the Thunder.
#30 David Put – DB (6’0”, 175), Sheldon Williams Collegiate, Regina, SK
David had great size, explosiveness, and ball skills that lead him to be selected to the Canada U19 National Team this year. He has the versatility to play anywhere in the secondary which gives him an excellent opportunity to contribute early. We are very excited to see David develop as he is a very hard worker and a competitor.
#8 Mugisha Asharuf – DB (5’11, 150), Dr. Martin LeBoldus Collegiate, Regina, SK
Mugisha has a tall lean frame which gives him an excellent combination of size and speed. He has great range to turn and run with vertical routes and plenty of makeup speed to recover if he gets beat. Mugisha has looked particularly strong in man to man situations during indoor workouts. We are very excited to see him continue to improve as he has the potential to be a shutdown corner.
#52 Jed Bell – OL (6’2”, 295), AE Peacock Collegiate, Moose Jaw, SK
Comes to us from the very successful Moose Jaw Peacock program. Jed is a very bright football player with a great work ethic. We are very excited to watch Jed grow as a player.
#75 Dustin Todd – OL (6’2”, 270), Vanier Collegiate, Moose Jaw, SK
Dustin is a very strong player with great size. Dustin is a very hard worker and has a very versatile skill set and has a bright future with our program.
#59 Matt Hajewich – OL (6’4”, 275), FW Johnson Collegiate, Regina, SK
Matthew has a tremendous frame and athletic ability. He has tremendous potential at the tackle position and we are looking forward to helping him achieve this.
#35 Bryson Simpson – RB, (5’10”, 190) PA Carlton, Prince Albert, SK
Bryson is a player that possesses great size, strength and deceptive speed. His season was cut far too short in 2016, but his dedication to staying fit and rehab will undoubtedly lead him to a strong showing in 2017. He maintains a positive attitude that will serve him well in becoming a future leader with the Regina Thunder. Once healthy, Bryson will make an immediate difference both in the backfield and on special teams.
#40 Brayden Long – RB, (5’11, 185) Miller Collegiate, Regina, SK
Brayden comes to us as an underrated player, but has a great skill set that will help him develop into a quality player. He has quick feet, good hands and vision and has the speed to break away once in space. Long is a very intelligent player with a team first mentality, this will serve him well both in the film room and on the field. I am confident that Brayden will put the time and effort into himself and the program that will allow him to excel.
Offensive Line: Barry Rees, Gene Makowsky
Quarterback: Tate Quest, Deke Junior
Running Back: Jaeden Marwick, Blaine Dufffield
Receiver: Addison Richards, Camille Lagimodiere
Defensive Line: Aaron Wingfield, Jamie Lofthang
Linebacker: Will Putland, Yianni Cabylis
Defensive Back: Tanner Hope, Jimmy Cabylis
Kickers: Dean Kuz
(Reports by U of R Athletics/Braden Konschuh and Regina Thunder Football Club)