Striving for success (VIDEO)

Hassan Barry

Ontario and British Columbia standouts newest recruits to join OUA team’s 2014 class.

Three standouts will remain in their home province for their next gridiron chapters while another returns back to his native province.

Recently, Hassan Barry, Mike Downey, Robert Welch and Cameron Fryer signed with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues for the 2014 OUA season.


The 6’1, 292 pound defensive tackle was born in Iraq, but migrated to Canada at the age of eight.  For the past 10 years, Barry has called Kitchener, Ontario home.

Barry began his gridiron career for the junior varsity Twin Cities Predators of the Ontario Football Conference (OFC).  He moved on to suit up for the varsity Cambridge Lions of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL) and his high school, Eastwood Collegiate Rebels of the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association (WCSSAA).

During his time with the Rebels, Barry was honoured with the Tiger Award (Defensive MVP) as well as multiple Lineman Awards.

Not only has Barry played at the defensive tackle position, he has also been successful as a nose tackle, guard, offensive tackle, and fullback.

Barry issued the following statement regarding his commitment to the Varsity Blues:

“I have committed to University of Toronto for several reasons.”

“When I met the team and watched their game film, I cannot ignore the drive and determination they have to succeed as a program.”

“A large part of why I chose Toronto over other schools was the hiring of Coach (Greg) Knox as he was the Defensive Coordinator at McMaster when they won the Vanier Cup.  He and Coach (Greg) Gary were a great presence throughout the recruiting process and made me understand why I would be a vital part to their defense.  The coaching is what made me believe that they can help me become the player that I want to be and guide me in the right direction to the pros.”

“Another important factor to my decision is the strength and conditioning which is led by Coach Adrian Lightowler who provides players with the best training programs in state of the art gyms and equipment that University of Toronto provides.”

“As a football player I believe that the program defines me:   the determination, the hunger, and the drive to becoming the best in the league.  I displayed this when I made the move from the OFC TC Predators to the Cambridge Lions in the OVFL in my grade 11 year.  I wanted to be well known throughout both leagues and to explore the type of competition I would witness throughout my future in the CIS.  I was awarded with the OVFL All-Star team this past season with Cambridge Lions at the summer of grade 11.”

“Education wise, University of Toronto is known for its world class education and I am very excited to be part of that and to learn from the top professors in the country.”

Mike Downey


For the 6’5, 300 pound defensive lineman (nose/left tackle) from Unionville, Ontario, signing with the Varsity Blues is a childhood dream that has come true.

“It has long been a dream of mine to earn a scholarship and attend the University of Toronto to play football on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues,” commented Downey of his commitment.  “I committed to the University of Toronto because I was amazed by the professionalism of all the coaches and their vision that they have for the Varsity Blues future; I look forward to learning from their experience and direction.”

“Another deciding factor was the camaraderie of the teammates and the support that they offered when I met them; they are all smart athletes who can balance getting a great education with their passion for football, something that I strive to learn from them.”

Additionally, proximity and family played a role in his decision. Downey is looking forward to joining the Varsity Blues so he can begin the process of reaching his potential on the field and in the classroom.

“I also chose Toronto because it is close to home; I have a very supporting family who like to come out to watch my games, in this way they can continue to come out and support me during my CIS career,” expressed Downey.  “Lastly, my father is alumni of the University of Toronto and he has supported me throughout my entire career thus far, to me it is a perfect fit to start my CIS career.”

“My plans for the future are to do what I can to help the Varsity Blues achieve their goals and help support their program while obtaining a great education and a Bachelor degree in Economics.”

The defensive standout comes to the Varsity Blues after completing his high school career with Bill Crothers Colts of the York Region Athletic Association (YRAA).  Downy also suited up for the Markham Raiders of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL).

Robert Welch


The 6’2, 210 pound linebacker was born in Kitchener, Ontario but moved to Vancouver, British Columbia at the age of two.

Ultimately, there were several reasons why Welch will be embarking on his CIS career in Toronto.

“I plan on studying Engineering and University of Toronto’s worldwide reputation as a top engineering school definitely made it an easy academic decision,” said Welch.  “The university has a very good program in place to support its student athletes and this was another important factor in my decision.”

“As well, the coaching staff and the players I met were very welcoming during my visit and this also made my decision easier. The University of Toronto football program is finding more success every year so I feel now is a great time to enter the program. Most of my extended family lives in Toronto, so that was another benefit Toronto had to offer. Finally, I knew that I wanted to go out of province for school, but I also wanted to remain in Canada.  University of Toronto seemed to be the perfect fit for me, and I’m excited to be a Varsity Blue.”

Welch joins the Varsity Blues after completing his high school career with Vancouver College Fighting Irish of the British Columbia High School Football Association (BCHSFA).  This past season with the team, Welch had 80 carries, scored 14 touchdowns and caught two interceptions in eight games. This was despite missing part of the season due to illness. In addition to linebacker, he has also played at the running back and cornerback positions.

In this past year’s Archbishops Trophy game against archrivals Notre Dame Jugglers, Welch received the Best Back Award for his exceptional play.  Moreover, he was named the Fighting Irish’s Team MVP and also was the recipient of Academic Award, given to the player that achieves the highest academic average on the Fighting Irish.

Cameron Fryer commitment


The 6’1, 270 pound offensive lineman from Ajax, Ontario chose the Varsity Blues for a few main reasons.

“The main reason I committed to the University of Toronto is because I am aiming to get into the Rotman Commerce program,” explained Fryer of his commitment.   “Another reason is because as soon as I got there, I started talking to the coaches and players and I already felt like the part of the team.”

“I knew some of them already, but even the people I didn’t know were really friendly.  Finally, the facilities and football program had a big influence in my decision as well. The facilities are top notch, especially with the new weight-room coming in September.”

Furthermore, Fryer wanted to be part of the positive direction the Varsity Blues is heading and is looking forward to being instructed by one coach in particular.

“The football program went 4-4 last year but they are constantly improving,” added Fryer.  “I believe they have the potential to win the Vanier Cup and I can see myself helping them to achieve that.”

“I’m really looking forward to being coached by Coach (Jim) Moore; he is very knowledgeable and will help make me the best football player that I can be.”

The Ontario standout played at the guard, center and defensive tackle positions for St. Michael Kerry Blues of the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) and Ajax-Pickering Dolphins of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL).



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