University of Alberta Golden Bears Class of 2018 off to strong start

The Golden Bears currently have 21 commits.

Recruiting is not easy. Not only are there 26 other U Sports teams to compete against, there are thousands of fields to scourer and even more players to scout all over the Canada. Sometimes, you need a little bit of help.

Entering into the 2018 recruitment season, the Golden Bears took a different approach to their scouting. They added Eric Théroux as the team’s recruiting coordinator and Russel Schoeppe as the head scout.

“The addition of both Eric and Russell has helped tremendously with this class,” Head Coach Christopher Morris said. “They are both very genuine people who are good at developing relationships with perspective recruits and their families. This is one of the best classes we have had in my five years here as the head coach.”

He added that, “This recruiting class is so strong because it not only addresses areas of immediate need for our program, it also lays a solid foundation for us moving forward…what makes it special is that everyone in this class has the potential to be a big-time contributor to our program at some point down the road. It is loaded with talent from top to bottom.”

CFC100 Jonathan Rosery signs his letter of intent with the Golde Bears. By Eric Théroux.

The team currently has three CFC100 recruits, running back Jonathan Rosery from Harry Ainlay High School, lineman Rodeem Brown from the Centennial College and Daniel Shin from Strathcona High School.

“Jonathan Rosery is a blue-chip recruit in every way imaginable. He has the speed to score from anywhere on the field and is very physical in the way he runs the football,” Morris said. “He headlines the skill position players we have signed from the high school ranks, but is certainly not the only talented player.”

He added that the team believes Brown is one of the top guard recruits in Canada.

On the local front, the Bears have secured the likes of lineman Tyler Duguid (Harry Ainlay High School) and offensive lineman Carson Lethbridge (David Thompson High School).

Duguid is a two-time member of Team Alberta and was a captain on the Harry Ainlay Titans, who are provincial champions. He also made the Team Canada rugby squad and will compete for national gold in wrestling this year.

Quarterback Jonathan Ericson from Lacombe High School will also be donning the green and gold next season. “He is one of the top high school quarterback recruits in the nation and has the type of arm that will help him develop into an elite player at this level,” Morris said.

Over the next two years, the Golden Bears will need to replace members on the line of scrimmage as older players graduate. Morris believes the true strength of this draft class may lie on the line. Along with Brown, the team will be bringing in offensive linemen Ryan Gibson (Holy Cross High School), Seth Rogers (Victoria Spartans) and Noah Danyk Purcell (Beaumont High School).

Tyler Duguid sits with his family as he signs his letter of intent for football and wrestling. By Eric Théroux.

Morris described Gibson and Brown as “tremendous athletes with the mobility to play in our offensive scheme at a very high level,” while Rogers “is another long, athletic body who plays with a nice chip on his shoulder and also fits well into what we like to do on offence.”

Not forgotten by the Bears, Eric Théroux said, “Danyk-Purcell was overlooked by many. However, he has the drive and the size to turn into a very good offensive lineman in a few years. He is aggressive and very athletic from his multi-sport background.”

Other high school recruits include wide receiver Adner St Hilarie (Strathcona High School), who Morris said, “is a smooth and explosive playmaker,” quarterback Garrett Musgrave (Lloydminster Composite) and defensive backs Sean Bennett (St. Michael’s College) and Eli Klassen (Holy Rosary High School). Morris described Musgrave, Bennet and Klassen as “tall and explosive athletes that will develop into outstanding U Sports players.”

Defensive back Lion Cameron (Strathcona High School) and receivers Silas Yelenik (St. Joseph Catholic High School) and Connor Guy (Paul Kane High School) have also committed to the University of Alberta.

Morris is confident in talents of his new crop of young commits. “As a whole, this group of high school recruits will undoubtedly be one of the strongest in the nation and addresses the specific areas of need we have as a program,” he said.

While high school teams offer a vast recruiting pool, the Bears cast their nets into the Canadian Junior Football League as well. “Defensive end Donivan Burgmairer (Edmonton Huskies), who was a Prairie Football Conference unanimous all-star, will bring much needed pass rushing and has a huge motor,” Morris said of the two-time CJFL all-Canadian and 2016 CJFL player of the year. “We expect him to make an immediate impact.”

CJFLer Brad Launhardt makes it official. By Eric Théroux.

Quarterback Brad Launhardt (Edmonton Huskies), who is a two-time CJFL all-Canadian and the PFC’s offensive player of the year, MVP and most outstanding quarterback, is also bringing his talents to the team. “He brings a mature and very skilled presence,” said Morris.

With the departure of Ed Ilnicki, this year’s Hec Creighton trophy winner, the team will be filling the void of his absence with All-Canadian Trey Campbell (Westshore Rebels). “Trey has legitimate score-from-anywhere-on-the-field speed and is also a very physical back,” Morris said of his new tailback.

PFC all-star receiver Connor Bergersen (Edmonton Huskies), who Morris described as “a mature, elite player who we expect to contribute immediately,” will also be joining the team, along with linebacker Oshane Samuels (Edmonton Huskies) and defensive lineman Evin Kockisarli (Edmonton Wildcats).

In the 2017 playoffs, the Golden Bears competed against the Calgary Dinos in the quarter finals. Although they dropped the contest 39-22, the team took away a valuable experience, playing post-season football. With preparation for next season underway, the goal is simple: keep improving.

“Our goal in 2018 is to continue our growth as a program and begin to be known as a team that plays high level football and executes at a high level on a consistent basis,” Morris said. “We expect to compete in every game we play in this coming season in what is the most competitive conference from top to bottom in the nation.”

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