The University of Saskatchewan Huskies cemented their position as the top professional football factory in the CIS on Saturday when twelve alumni made the rosters of CFL teams, two more than any other CIS program.
Last year’s first-place squad was well represented in the dozen dogs, with three members making the jump to the professional ranks. Included in that was first-team All-Canadian wide receiver and fourth overall 2011 draft pick Jade Etienne, who will ply his trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“Its awesome,” said Etienne of cracking the Blue Bomber roster. “I Spent all day Friday and Saturday morning praying my phone wouldn’t ring for a meeting with the coach.
“I’m excited, but the work is just getting started! I’m excited to get the season on the go, but I’m going to miss the Huskies and all they’ve done to get me into this position. I’ll be back cheering you guys on as much as I can!”
Rory Kohlert, who started opposite Etienne at wide receiver last season, signed a free agent contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in March. He survived the final round of cuts and is looking forward to taking his game to a new level, but is taking a patient approach to moving up the Ti-Cat depth chart.
“I’m taking everything I learned from the Huskies,” he said, “and from training camp here in Hamilton and applying it to the next day. I am trying to absorb as much as possible from the veteran receivers and doing all the things the coaches are asking me to do.”
Closer to home, the second time proved to be the charm for Patrick Neufeld, the 33rd overall selection in the 2010 CFL Draft of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. After attending last year’s training camp, Neufeld returned to the Huskies where he had a sensational season, earning first-team All-Canadian honours.
Neufeld, a Regina native, is thrilled to be playing in his hometown. “Making the team feels incredible,” he said. “A lot of hard work and sacrifices were made but was all worth it after getting a phone call telling me I had made it.
“Playing for the Riders is something special. It hasnt fully sunk in yet, playing for them, but come the home opener it will hit me. It’s been a dream to run out of the helmet on gameday.”
“They are all good players and we will miss them,” said Huskies Head Coach Brian Towriss. “But at the same time, this opens up opportunities for other guys.”
More on those opportunities and the front runners to take advantage of them in an article later this week.