Seven class 2017 sign with Rams including #CFC100

Thursday was the first day that Class of 2017 players could officially sign a CIS Letter of Intent, and University of Regina Rams head coach Steve Bryce announced that six Grade 12 players have committed to the program and will join the team next fall.
All six players are from southern Saskatchewan, with five hailing from the immediate Regina area. The group is headlined by a pair of players who earned all-star honours for Riffel last season, including running back #CFC100 Kyle Borsa and defensive lineman Tanner Schmekel. Parker Auchstaetter (Assiniboia), Ty Cappo (Greenall), and Parker Hodel (Winston Knoll) all add to the program’s depth on the offensive line, while Cappo’s Greenall teammate Noah Sampson and Central Collegiate receiver Jonah Branning also signed on Thursday.
Borsa, who’s ranked on’s (#CFC100) national list of the top 100 players in the Class of 2017, finished second in the Schwann Conference in rushing last season with 87 carries for 760 yards. He was also second in the conference with eight rushing touchdowns for Riffel and added five receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also gained provincial and national experience over the past few seasons, first helping Team Saskatchewan to a bronze medal at the 2015 Football Canada Cup and then playing with Team Canada’s U18 squad at the 2016 International Bowl in Texas. Borsa is the son of Cory Borsa, who won two CJFL championships with the Rams during a junior career that stretched from 1990 to 1994.
“Kyle is blessed with the best straightaway speed of any running back in Saskatchewan,” Bryce said. “That speed could make him another two-sport athlete at the U of R if he also competes in track. Kyle is a very physical player and his muscular build helps make him a durable back. I expect him to develop into an impact player at the CIS level.”
Schmekel recently won a silver medal with Team Saskatchewan at the 2016 Football Canada Cup, with current Rams defensive coordinator Sheldon Gray serving as the head coach of that team. Schmekel had 16 tackles for Riffel last season while earning all-star honours as a Grade 11 player and Bryce considers him the top graduating defensive lineman in the province this year despite only having two years of football under his belt.
“In terms of positional need, Tanner is a critical recruit for us as he’ll add immediate depth at defensive tackle,” Bryce said. “He’s still inexperienced as a football player, but I love his size, movement, tenacity, and his willingness to go sideline to sideline. Tanner just seems to get better and better every time I watch him, and at times has been dominant against quality competition.”
The offensive line trio of Auchstaetter, Cappo, and Hodel all attend different schools, but there’s some familiarity among the group as all three played together on the South Saskatchewan Selects 16U squad last winter – Auchstaetter and Hodel as tackles, and Cappo as a guard. Cappo and Hodel were both a part of that silver medal-winning Team Saskatchewan squad at the most recent Football Canada Cup, while Cappo was also named a Stewart Conference all-star at defensive line last year after collecting 13½ tackles and a half sack for Greenall. Auchstaetter plays six-man football at Assiniboia, last year helping the Rockets to a 6-2 overall record and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the 2A provincial bracket.
“I had a great opportunity to watch these three develop an excellent chemistry and camaraderie in Texas,” said Bryce, who was a position coach with the Selects 14U squad that would regularly practice against the 16U team. “They were physically dominating as a line and fed off each other in a positive way. The offensive line has to be the most cohesive unit on a football team, and I’m excited to recruit a group that’s already developed a trust between them.”
Sampson won a bronze medal with Team Saskatchewan at the 2015 Football Canada Cup and was a standout for Greenall last season, finishing among the Stewart Conference leaders in defensive points. Playing primarily at safety, Sampson finished the year with 21½ tackles, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and an interception.
“Noah is an extraordinarily cerebral football player who’s highly intelligent and a real student of the game,” Bryce said. “He’s a field general on the defence and is a vocal guy who will reposition players as necessary. Noah has decent size, moves well, and tackles well, and I think he’ll have the ability to play at safety or at halfback at the CIS level.”
Branning has been named Central Collegiate’s top receiver in each of the past two seasons and was also an electrifying punt and kickoff returner for the Cyclones. He put his speed on display for Central’s track & field team earlier this year, becoming the provincial senior boys’ champion in the 200-metre dash. Branning is the younger brother of current Rams defensive back Kahlen Branning.
“Jonah plays very well on both sides of the ball. We’re focusing on him as a receiver, but he’s been exceptional at defensive back as well,” Bryce said. “He has game-changing speed, he can score from anywhere on the field, and as importantly he’s an outstanding student and a young man with very high character. We’re thrilled to add Jonah to the program.”
University of Regina Rams 2017 Recruiting Class
OL Parker Auchstaetter • 6-5 / 295 • 1st • Assiniboia, Sask. (Assiniboia Composite HS)
RB Kyle Borsa • 5-11 / 180 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Michael A. Riffel HS)
WR Jonah Branning • 6-1 / 170 • 1st • Moose Jaw, Sask. (Central Collegiate)
OL Ty Cappo • 6-3 / 245 • 1st • Muscowpetung First Nation (Greenall HS)
OL Parker Hodel • 6-3 / 275 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Winston Knoll Collegiate)
DB Noah Sampson • 5-11 / 180 • 1st • Pilot Butte, Sask. (Greenall HS)
DL Tanner Schmekel • 6-1 / 230 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Michael A. Riffel HS)

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