April 16, 2018

Hufnagel Update Pt.2

CALGARY, AB - JULY 28, 2017: The Calgary Stampeders host a Legacy Luncheon in the Red and White Club for the 1992 Grey Cup Team at McMahon Stadium on Friday afternoon. (Angela Burger/Calgary Stampeders).

As the off-season rolls on, we chatted with Stampeders President and General Manager John Hufnagel to get his take on Free Agency, Mini-Camps, the CFL Combine, and the CFL Draft! The following is the second half of a two-part feature with the Stamps head honcho. Part 1 can be found here.

Even with CFL free agency wrapped up, there’s still plenty of work to be done for Hufnagel and his football operations staff.
Since Feb. 10, Calgary has been hosting open tryouts across the United States, looking for more talent to follow in the footsteps of players such as Reggie Begelton, Terry Williams, Jameer Thurman, James Vaughters, and Patrick Levels.

The team wrapped up four tryouts on April 7-8 in New Orleans, Richmond, Atlanta, Charlotte, and will have one final camp on April 28 in Tampa, Fla.

“We’re working hard all along with our free-agent camps,” Hufnagel said. “That all leads to getting 60 guys to go to our rookie camp at the end of the month.

“We invite 60 players there and these players consist of guys that have been on the radar on our negotiation lists that were possibly cut last year in the NFL camp and didn’t get signed onto a practice roster so they’re on the streets. Now we’ve already seen them because we have scouts going to all the NFL camps and watching their college film and things like that. We get 60 of those rookie players to come down and out of that we invite about 25 to training camp.”

Not only are the Stampeders looking for players south of the border, they have invested a large amount of time into finding the top Canadian players to select in the upcoming CFL Draft on May 3.

A major event – the CFL Combine – occurred on March 24-25 in Winnipeg, where Stamps coaches, management, and other front-office staff gathered to evaluate the next generation of national talent.

Hufnagel and his team have been working hard since before the new year started, compiling the draft reports into their system. Now, with just under three weeks until the draft, he’ll meet with his head coach Dave Dickenson, the scouts, position coaches, and other coordinators to make final adjustments to each draftable player’s grade.

“We’re just fine-tuning our grades and then putting a stack to it,” said Hufnagel. “Stacking being you have guys with similar grades, what’s our priority, how do they rank and fall. So our draft board will be highest grade all the way down within the priorities we set for our needs. That’s hard work but a lot of work had been done previously to make sure the decisions are hopefully the right decisions.”

With the free agents in tow and more to come from the open tryouts, the draft is the last major hurdle during the off-season.

Altogether – with the returning veterans – they’ll form the roster of players that will travel to Calgary for training camp in May.

“With the 25 we select at the end of the month, and then going to the draft and our nine selections, that’s kind of how we stock our cupboards,” said Hufnagel.