UofT raids Calgary, adds 5

Toronto adds five commits from the City of Calgary to their 2018 class.

Going to a new city can be intimidating, but when linebacker Gabe Podivinsky and fullback Taher Hasoon from Ernest Manning High School join the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, they will have several familiar faces in the locker room.

Athlete Ryan Kneeland and linemen Lukash Cunningham and Theo Alefantis from Ernest Manning High School will also be joining the Varsity Blues.

Gabe Podivinsky

Gabe Podivinsky has spent his entire life in Calgary, Alberta, but he has a connect to the Greater Toronto Area. “My father’s brother lives in Oakville, which is just outside of Toronto, so I would be closer to that side of the family,” he said.

Ready for a change, he added that, “The city is a big pull. I’ve always wanted to live away from Calgary for university and Toronto is a great city to live in with lots to do and many things to experience.”

By Daniel Ostryznik.

Moving away from home can be tough, however Podivinsky will not be alone when he treks out to the capital of Ontario. “Four of my teammates also committed there, so that’s another reason for choosing it, being with people that I already know is a plus,” he said. “I know I will meet the rest of my team as I become more involved at the start of the season but having people that I’ve known for years is a nice comfort.”

In terms of football, Podivinsky said he feels that he will be a great fit on the team as he has “a lot to offer as well as a lot learn. It’s a school that’s up-and-coming and I want to be apart of the experience.”

Podivinsky has only had the chance to meet his new coaches when they visited Calgary, however he described them as fantastic and very nice. He said that he has had respectful conversations with the team’s defensive coordinator and that the DC showed confidence in him as a player and person.

“I’m excited to get there and begin to work with him as my DC,” Podivinsky added. “The coaches seem to have lots of confidence in what they know and the way the team is moving forward.”

Podivinsky, who is 6’0, 180lbs, is interested in taking a bachelor of arts. “The school is internationally recognized, and it would be rewarding and career-boosting to receive a degree from there,” he said.

Podivinsky has spent three years with the Ernest Manning Griffins (Calgary High School Athletic Association) and six with the Calgary Wildcats (Calgary Spring League). He is a three-time defensive player of the year, twice with the Griffins in 2015 and 2017 and once with the Wildcats in 2017. He was the Wildcats’ 2017 MVP and a CAMFA all-star in 2016.

“Gabe is a very talented athlete who should turn into a great Sam linebacker, which is hard to find in U Sports. His vision and leadership on the field are a very good combination in a young athlete. He should contribute early on special teams and compete for a spot on the defense,” said Richard Klimushko, the defensive coordinator and co-head coach of the Griffins.

Taher Hasoon

There is no doubt that Toronto is a bustling city, and Taher Hasoon is excited be surrounded by such a cityscape. “The campus and field are in Toronto, the most vibrant and lively city in Canada. I’ve always seen myself there. I mean, it’s the ‘6’, I gotta be there,” he said.

“When talking to Coach Mark and Coach Mullen, I instantly felt comfortable,” he added. “The coaching staff is really committed to their players and brining out the best both on the field and in the classroom.”

Hasoon is interested in taking international relations with the aspirations of studying law.

Hasoon, who is 5’6, 215lbs, has played for seven years with both the Wildcats and Griffins. In 2017, he was a CAMFA all-star. He has won such awards as the most inspirational award, the hardest worker and the lifetime leadership award.

“Taher is a hard working, hard hitting and cerebral player who has shown the ability to be a punishing hitter,” Klimushko said. “A very high football I.Q., his presence as a leader should be felt in the football team room almost immediately, a very good work ethic and (he) has a desire to play at the next level.”

Before packing his bags, Hasoon has some thanks he would like share. “First, I want to thank God for all the blessings,” he said. “I also want to thank all the coaches that I’ve had over the years with both the Wildcats and Ernest Manning. They have always been there for me on the field but most importantly, how they’ve helped me grow off the field, that I’ll never forget.”

He added that, “Finally, I want to thank my family for their love and support.”

Ryan Kneeland

Standing at 6’0, 200lbs, Ryan Kneeland has played for the Calgary Falcons (CSL) and the Griffins as a slotback, running back, free safety and receiver.

“Ryan brings versatility to the team, he should play SB and/or some halfback on defense,” Klimushko said. “He should help early on specials because he has a high football I.Q. and has been playing football for a long time. He is a vocal leader and should develop into a good U Sports football player.”

Lukash Cunningham

Lukash Cunningham has been anchoring the lines on both the Griffins and Calgary Wildcats (CSL) in high school.

“Lukash has a range of abilities and has played a variety of positions including o-line, defensive tackle, tight end and defensive end,” Klimushko said of the 6’5, 230lbs commit. “He has a high athletic ceiling and is a multiple sport athlete with a great deal of potential.”

Theo Alefantis

Theo Alefantis has played alongside Cunningham on the Griffins’ and Wildcats defensive line. Standing at 6’3, 215lbs, he has played as a tackle, defensive end and defensive tackle.

“Theo was an outstanding lineman on both the offensive and defensive lines. He has a high motor and is strong and aggressive player with a frame that has lots of room to de lop and fill in,” Klimushko said. “He is a very emotional leader and a multi-sport athlete who is new to football and just beginning to refine his football skills and acumen.”

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