Rams training camp to begin Friday (VIDEO)

REGINA, Sask. – The University of Regina Rams begin the upcoming season this week with testing and a team retreat before on-field activities officially kick off the training camp presented by Laurentian Bank Securities on Friday morning.
The players report on Wednesday for measurements and fitness testing before heading to Lumsden on Thursday for an all-day outing to St. Michael’s Retreat. That sets the stage for two-a-day practices, which begin on Friday morning at the U of R Field.
The twice-daily practices continue through to Sunday, with daily practices scheduled from Monday through Thursday leading into the Rams’ non-conference game with the University of Manitoba on Friday (7 p.m.) at Mosaic Stadium.
Coming off a 2012 campaign which saw the Rams finish with a 6-2 conference record before winning a home playoff game  to earn a berth in the Hardy Cup, the team will have some reloading to do after graduating a total of 20 fifth-year players and losing a pair of players with CIS eligibility remaining to the professional ranks.
Here’s how the Rams shape up on a position-by-position basis as the team enters final preparations for training camp –
For the first time since 2008, the Rams will head into a season with someone other than Marc Mueller expected to control the team’s offence. With Mueller graduated and now serving the team in a role as quarterbacks coach, University of Hawaii transfer Cayman Shutter has the inside track to take over as the starting pivot. John Kiesman (Winnipeg Rifles) and Noah Picton (Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS) come to the Rams as first-year players, though Picton is expected to redshirt the season. The availability of returning quarterbacks Zach Oleynik and Frankie Gray, who have both seen significant amounts of playing time over the last couple of seasons, is a question mark as both players underwent offseason surgery.
Returning: Frankie Gray, Zach Oleynik
Newcomers: John Kiesman, Noah Picton, Cayman Shutter
Key loss: Marc Mueller
Running Back
Michael Kiapway became the Rams’ starting back in his second season of CIS eligibility, ending up with 571 rushing yards, five touchdown runs, and an average of 5.4 yards per carry. He’s one of only three players in University of Regina history to collect at least five touchdown runs in a single season. Also back is Dillon Dawson, who started a pair of games for the Rams last season and ended up with 34 carries for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Returning: Brandin Cannon, Dillon Dawson, Michael Kiapway
Newcomers: Ben Graunke, Jens Johnson, Ben Lane, Dylan Minshull
The U of R has a history of producing receivers and with the talented crop returning this year, the nickname #ReceiverU will still apply. Three returning players have earned Canada West all-star nods including top receivers Jared Janotta and Kolten Solomon from last season and Mark McConkey, who was a conference all-star in 2011 but had an injury derail his 2012 campaign. Landon Buch broke out in the postseason and the coaching staff hopes to see an injury-free season from Addison Richards, who has shown flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons with the Rams. The staff is also excited about the five incoming first-year receivers, all of which were taken from the Regina high school ranks.
Returning: Landon Buch, Rory Copithorn, Jared Janotta, Mark McConkey, Addison Richards, Catlin Schneider, Kolten Solomon, Riley Wilson
Newcomers: Davin Johnston, Andrew Kuski, Mitchell Picton, Cohen Richards, Richard Sindani
Key loss: Jay Smith
Offensive Line
The Rams will turn over almost the entire offensive line, as the team loses three starters to graduation and Brett Jones to the Calgary Stampeders. Also gone is key backup Joel Hrycyk, so third-year right tackle Aaron Picton is the lone returning starter for the Rams this year. The team expects Nathan Cugnet and Kyle Paterson to step into a starting role with the remaining two starting positions to be determined at training camp.
Returning: Nathan Cugnet, Kyle Paterson, Aaron Picton
Newcomers: Matt Degelman, Kavan Metcalfe, Ty Nordick, Kyle Pooyak, Lyndon Smith, Brandon Williams, Jeremy Zver
Key losses: Brenden Bennett, Steve Hanson, Brett Jones, Chris Mercer
Defensive Line
With Benton Gieni graduated and Stefan Charles finishing off his CIS eligibility and now with the Tennessee Titans as one of the four Rams currently in the NFL, Logan Brooks and Ryan Wellman are the two remaining starters from last season. Brooks enters his final season with the Rams ranked third in U of R history with 10½ sacks, while Wellman was a Canada West all-star last season after a breakout 2012 campaign. Tyler Perkins started at tackle last season for four games while Charles was hurt and is expected to take on a similar role for the Rams on a full-time basis in 2013.
Returning: Logan Brooks, Micheal Dadzie, Tyler Perkins, Zach Rensby, Ryan Warner, Ryan Wellman
Newcomers: Joey Carriere, Wilfred Jerome, Thomas Lill, Bryce McKinnon, Chris Strongeagle
Key losses: Stefan Charles, Benton Gieni
With starters Alex Meldrum and Chris Sciog graduated, the Rams will look to two of Zach Gorski, Connor Ketchen, Tyler Mantyak, Mitch Morrison, and Michael Stefanovic to step into starting roles. Gorski and Mantyak are both third-year players, while Ketchen and Morrison both enter their second seasons of CIS eligibility and Stefanovic is still in his first after redshirting last season. Ketchen had the most impact of the four last season, ending up with 6½ tackles and three pass deflections during the Canada West schedule while starting one game at linebacker in place of an injured Meldrum.
Returning: Zach Gorski, Connor Ketchen, Julius Landry, Tyler Mantyak, Mitch Morrison, Michael Stefanovic
Newcomer: Logan Lazurko
Key losses: Alex Meldrum, Chris Sciog
Defensive Backs
With five starters gone from last season, the U of R’s defensive backfield will have an extremely different look in 2013. Justin Edralin is the only returning full-time starter, but Brady Aulie has also earned plenty of playing time over his first four seasons with the Rams and will likely move into the dimeback position vacated by the graduated Steve Famulak. Returning players Kahlen Branning, Tevaughn Campbell, Joey Dwyer, Ryan Filyk, and Mason Rossler shuld all challenge for starting roles, while Jordy Kibamba, Patrick MacDonald, Jeff Propp, and Ryan Serbu are among the newcomers that could be significant players for the Rams this season.
Returning: Brady Aulie, Robbie Avram, Kahlen Branning, Tevaughn Campbell, Joey Dwyer, Justin Edralin, Ryan Filyk, Cody Kezama, Patrick MacDonald, Mason Rossler
Newcomers: Brendan Brierley, Michael Bright, Dalton Fichtner, Jordy Kibamba, Jeff Propp, Ryan Serbu
Key losses: Steve Famulak, Cody Johnstone, Kirby Kezama, Daniel Knaus, Jamir Walker
Punters & Kickers
Two-time All-Canadian punter Chris Bodnar graduated, but the Rams still have experienced placekicker Taylor Wandler on the roster as a fifth-year player in 2013. Wandler could also assume punting duties for the team as well, but he’ll be challenged in training camp by Saskatoon Hilltops product Zach Schmidt.
Returner: Taylor Wandler
Newcomer: Zach Schmidt

With files from Braden Konschuh, Regins Rams Sports Information

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