Calgary Dinos stock up on CJFL talent

Calgary adds three CJFLers to their team, including former SMU commit Robbie Rodriquez.

Football teams are often about converging paths, and wide receiver Nate Anderson, linebacker Conor Richard and defensive back Tye Kitzman from the Okanagan Sun (CJFL) have all taken different paths to reach the same location, the University of Calgary Dinos.

Nate Anderson

Courtesy of Nate Anderson.

Nate Anderson didn’t become accustom to the Canadian game until after his high school career, but now he will experience it for another few years. Anderson is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, where he spent four years playing with the Cooper Hills High School Grizzlies. He then moved to Kelowna to play in the CJFL for two years.

Looking to extend his stay in country, Anderson said, “The University of Calgary is the top university in Canada in my opinion and they give you all the tools necessary to be the best football player.”

He added that, “The coaching staff is awesome. Coach Jabari is energetic and has been around the game at every level. All the other coaches are committed to the program and winning. They’re passionate about what they do.”

Anderson, who is 6’0, 170lbs, is interested in business. He was a 2017 BCFC all-star. In high school, he won the all-region two times.

Content to stay north of the border, Anderson said that Calgary “really felt like home.”

Conor Richard

Tye Kitzman (left) and Conor Richard (right) at their signing with the Dinos. Courtesy of Conor Richard.

Like his Sun teammate, Conor Richard also spent his high school career in the United States. The dual citizen was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, but went to school in Clarksville, Tennessee. He soon found himself playing in BC.

“I grew up just outside of Nashville my whole life, so I think I felt a little bit at home when I was in Calgary,” Richard, who is interested in engineering, said. “I want to pursue a career in the oil fields, so Alberta is the place to be for that.”

Richard was drawn in by much more than the homey feeling. He said he felt the university was the best fit. “They are losing a lot of their key players on defense, which gives me a chance to come in and contribute to the team in my first year,” he said.

“The coaching staff is hands down the most elite in Canada,” Richard added. “Aside from all the individual coaches’ resumes and accomplishments, they are a genuine group of people. Coach Harris and his staff aren’t building just a team, but a family and no doubt do I want to be apart of that!”

During his recruitment, Richard never felt coerced into the program. He said, “The coaches don’t try to force the school or the program on you either, so that alone shows that they only want kids that want to be there.”

Standing at 6’0, 215lbs, Richard was the Sun’s rookie of the year last year. He was also a CJFL all-star. This year, he was named the team’s defensive MVP, repeated as a CJFL all-star and was an all-Canadian. He was also awarded the outstanding linebacker award.

Tye Kitzman

Courtesy of Tye Kitzman.

The new U Sports season couldn’t start fast enough for Tye Kitzman. He is coming to the Dinos after three seasons in the CJFL with the Sun. With his years of eligibility shortened, he is looking to get as much playing time in as possible.

“Calgary is a place that I can go and compete to play right away, which I plan to do. I don’t have time to come in as a red shirt. I’m going to make a difference right away,” Kitzman said.

“Calgary has established itself as a dynasty organization in the CanWest and it’s something I want to be apart of,” he added. “They treat their players like royalty and all matters are always taken care of right away.”

Standing at 6’2, 190lbs, the corner knows he is in good hands with the Dinos. “Their coaching staff is a very tight group and a large number of them have professional experience both as players and coaches,” he said. “These coaches aren’t just looking to win. They’re looking to push guys to the next level as well.”

A product of Vernon, BC, Kitzman is interested in kinesiology. He has been playing football since the tender age of seven, starting his career in the Vernon Minor Football league. In high school, he was a member of the Clarence Fulton Maroons (BC High School Football AA). He is a three-time Maroon MVP and a two-time recipient of the coach’s choice award. In 2016, he was the Sun’s most improved. This season, he was named defensive back of the year, was a BCFC all-star and was an all-Canadian.

Robbie Rodriquez

Courtesy of Robbie Rodrigues.

Despite being from Burnaby, BC, Robbie Rodriquez already feels at home in Calgary. “I chose Calgary because I want to contribute to an explosive offence that helps the team compete for a Vanier every year,” the 5’9, 195lbs athlete said. “I was also drawn by the homey feel I felt when I went on my visit.”

He added that, “Every coach is enthusiastic and I feel like they value my development as a person as much as my development as a football player. I truly feel like Calgary has the best coaching in the league and their resumes don’t lie. I can’t wait to integrate into Coach Sheahen’s offence and absorb as much knowledge I can from him!”

Rodrigues started playing football in 2012 with the Coquitlam Falcons (Vancouver Mainland Football League). In 2014, he was a VMFL all-star. In 2015, he was a member of the Mount Allison Mounties. In 2016 and this season, he played with the Okanagan Sun. His hometown is Burnaby, BC.

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