June 17, 2017

Closer look at Stamps 2017 roster

Pre-season game on June 6, 2017 (Photo by Mark Shannon)

After 23 days, a couple dozen practices and two pre-season contests, the Stampeders’ 2017 training camp is in the books.

In advance of Saturday’s 8 p.m. MDT deadline, the Stamps have set their roster to open the new season, which gets underway on Friday with a visit to the Nation’s Capital and a Grey Cup rematch with the Ottawa RedBlacks.

“I felt this was one of the most competitive camps we’ve ever had,” said head coach Dave Dickenson. “We had some very tough decisions and we let some good players go, but we like our team. We’re excited for the challenge of Week 1.”

Here’s a closer look at the 2017 edition of the Stamps:

They’re back

The roster includes 32 players who made at least one start for the club that finished atop the West Division with a 15-2-1 record a year ago including all-stars Bo Levi Mitchell, Jerome Messam, Spencer Wilson, Charleston Hughes, Micah Johnson, Ciante Evans, Tommie Campbell and Jamar Wall.

Throw in the special-teams quartet of kicker Rene Paredes, punter Rob Maver, returner Roy Finch and long-snapper Pierre-Luc Caron, nine other players who saw game action and four more who spent time on the Calgary practice roster and you have a total of 49 returning players.

With the entire coaching staff returning intact, there won’t be a lot of time needed for introductions before the curtain rises for the regular season.

Old faces in new places

In addition to the long list of players returning players, six other players with CFL experience on their resumes are on the squad.

The group includes a pair of former Dinos and Calgary natives – running back Anthony Woodson, who most recently lined up for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and defensive lineman Michael Klassen, who spent the past four seasons with the Montreal Alouettes.

Also changing CFL address are linebacker/special-teamer Beau Landry (Hamilton), defensive lineman Bryan Hall (Toronto) and two former Winnipeg Blue Bombers – receiver Rory Kohlert and defensive lineman Kashawn Fraser.

Feeling a draft

Four members of the Stamps’ 2017 draft class are sticking around including defensive lineman Randy Colling, receiver Julan Lynch, defensive back/kick returner Tunde Adeleke and running back Ante Milanovic-Litre.

That means a total of 23 Stampeders draft picks are currently in the fold including 17 selections from the past four seasons.

Success stories

There’s no shortage of success stories among the new batch of Stampeders.

Among those who beat the odds by making the cut are undrafted Canadian free agent Riley Jones, who had a strong showing both on defence and special teams.

On the international side, linebacker Jameer Thurman and defensive back Patrick Levels both start the season with the Stamps despite joining the team after the conclusion of rookie camp.

Biding their time

For those who are unable to secure a roster spot and instead settle for a practice-roster berth, it can sometimes be a case of taking a step back in order to get a running start.

Case in point – a newbie receiver out of Notre Dame started the 2016 season on the practice roster and by the end of the season DaVaris Daniels was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie.

In fact, of the 10 players who were on the opening Calgary practice roster a year ago, eight eventually made the active squad and they combined to play 39 games.

This year’s initial practice roster includes 2017 draftees Lynch and Milanovic-Litre and 2016 selection Michael Kashak, who returned to McMaster after attending last year’s Stamps training camp.

One for the ages

Not all CFL newcomers are created equal.

On one hand there’s Adeleke, the speedster out of Carleton who won’t turn 22 until after the 2017 season is over.

Then there’s Jarrett Bush, who started his professional football career when Adeleke was in elementary school.

With 137 games of NFL experience over nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Bush obviously doesn’t qualify for rookie status but the full extent of his CFL time consists of a two-week stint on the Calgary practice roster during the 2016 post-season.

At the age of 33 and after a solid run south of the border, Bush isn’t ready to give up the game quite yet and so he’s embarking on a new adventure.